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A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Wikipedia

A Pale View of Hills is the story of Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman living alone in England, and opens with discussion between Etsuko and her younger daughter, Niki, about the recent suicide of Etsuko’s older daughter, Keiko. Etsuko’s thoughts, however, dwell not on either of her daughters so much as on the more distant past and the mysterious relationship she formed with a woman named Sachiko and with the woman’s young daughter, Mariko, some years before in post-war Nagasaki.

The View:

“A Pale View of Hills” is a classic novel, a welcome change from the usual books that we generally get to read. There is a lot to be said about the plot depending upon how you think the author perceived it. No matter how you ‘read’ and ‘interpret’ the book; you will know when you close it that you have read a book that is a class apart.

Personally I found a lot of similarities between the women in the plot. Etsuko and Sachiko were both very strong women but they continued to stay within the norms of the social requirements in the Japanese community. The interactions that Sachiko has with her daughter was something I could never relate too and was often confusing. She loved her daughter greatly and always put her above everything else…yet when her daughter throws a fit and leaves, she does not go behind her even if it is late. Niki is interesting, born to a Japanese mom but brought up in London she struggles with her identity. The subtle display of her character’s uncertainties is simply mind-blowing. Jiro’s dad’s presence adds a different aspect to the direction of the plot. Things that fascinate him like a couple voting for different political parties or the current education system’s focus in Japan were intriguing. The relationship that Etsuko has with her father-in-law is pleasant and one filled with respect.

Towards the end; with the continued similarities between the two women, I did think that Sachiko was a figment of Etsuko’s imagination or maybe just a representation of her own past. But that is just how I saw it.

Rated a 5 on 5 and when you read this book you will know why it gets (and deserves!) a spot in wiki 🙂



One Response

  1. This book is on my TBR list, so I found your review very interesting, especially your take on the ending. I wonder if I’ll have the same impression. I’ve been a fan of Ishiguro since reading An Artist of the Floating World, which I found to be very subtle and beautiful.

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