I finished reading this book over a month ago, and honestly, I’m still not sure what to make of it. Is it a work of genius that layer upon layer of undiscovered insight? Or is it a bit of a failure? Well, after a month of letting it sink in, I think I can say it falls somewhere in the middle. Now, Ishiguro is one of my top 5 favourite authors – if I could ever write a novel even an 1/8 as good as The Remains of The Day, or Never Let Me Go, then my life would be complete – and so this review is hard for me to write as I really wanted to love this book.
I suppose I better tell you a bit about the plot. Set in the early years of the Saxons, we follow an elderly couple as they go on a journey to visit their son in a neighbouring village. There is however, a strange mist enveloping the land and this causes everyone to lose their long term memory, that the people believe is being caused by a dragon rumored to be living in a mountain. Throughout this journey, the couple are pitted against many obstacles, including a cantankerous old knight from the days of King Arthur, the above mentioned dragon, and various other people that wish to do them harm.
Hmm… this sounds like a fairy tale you may say? Well, it is certainly told in a similar fashion, except this one delves into much deeper issues. I don’t want to explain each metaphor or what I think the author is trying to say – that’s for you to decipher. However, what I will say is that I think Ishiguro had all of these themes and contemporary issues that he wanted to incorporate into his book, but yet he tended to over crowd it without offering context. Or maybe it was my mind making up these issues and themes?
Even though there were some weak points, two things that Ishiguro does really well are characters and depicting loss and acceptance. This is what ultimately drove up my rating of this novel. Ishiguro is a master at portraying long-term numbness, sorrow and pathetic hope, and this novel is full of that. If you’ve read any previous novels by Ishiguro, then I do recommend reading this one. Certainly not his best one, but a solid 4 stars nonetheless.