Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = (Adult Content, Violence, Gothic Elements, Brilliant Plat Masking)
Against the backdrop of her eldest daughter’s suicide, A Pale View of Hills tells the story of a Japanese woman named Etsuko. The main character sets out on a journey of blurred self reflection of her earlier life in Japan. Specifically, she recalls a defining period of her life when she grew especially close to a woman named Sachiko. The rest is history (seriously) as the memories shared reveal the many horrors of Etsuko’s past.
Do yourself a favor and learn as little about A Pale View of Hills as possible before you actually embark on the read. Now, there’s a chance that our own slowness-of-thought could have played a part, but we didn’t figure out the huge plot twist until the second to last page. The entire novel, Ishiguro refuses to give anything away and pulls you along, just telling you enough to help you through the next chapter. Honestly, he makes you feel stupid, like you’re missing something even though it’s all right before your eyes. He did the same thing in Never Let me Go and we love him for it!
The tone of this novel is somber and slightly disturbing, which added to the mystery surrounding the main characters. The setting was vivid and even though only a small glimpse in terms of years was provided, we came away with a better appreciation for the culture, family dynamics, and history of pre WWII Japan. The narrative does jump quite often which can be frustrating at times, but for us it added to the atmosphere that Ishiguro was trying to create (assuming we pretend to know what Ishiguro was trying to do with the novel).
Finally, given our aforementioned slowness-of-thought, we want to make sure we figured out the twist, because there is some debate. If you’ve already read this one, please let us know your thoughts. If you haven’t, hurry up so we can discuss...