Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Pale View of Hills

A Pale View of HillsA Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = (Adult Content, Violence, Gothic Elements, Brilliant Plat Masking)

Why: We declared Kazuo Ishiguro a master after reading Never Let me Go and although we may have second guessed his brilliance after Remains of the Day, A Pale View of the Hills has cemented his legacy as one of our favorite authors of all time.  However, it should probably be noted that this list is pretty extensive for us, but still....   

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... 


  1. Great review for a great book.
    Ishiguro is the man, isn't he? I felt the same way, although I thought Remains of the Day was brilliant as well.

    I can't remember specifics, but I remember getting to a point at the end and stopping. Rereading. What? I just checked wiki for the summary, because it will tell you what happened, and there is some debate about the ending. But I think what you thought.

    I must read another Ishiguro soon, to reignite my adoration of his writing.

  2. just added this to my want-to-read list, alongside of your highly recommended "Never let Me Go."

  3. This sounds amazing! Yet another one you guys helped add to my TBR Mountain!

    Swing over to my blog to see a lil BBAW shout out for yous guys!

  4. I loved both Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day. I hadn't heard of this one, but I will definitely add it to my list. I love Ishiguro's writing. So subtle. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I will heed your advice about not learning too much about it. I prefer to go into books knowing practically nothing. It makes it more exciting for me that way.

  5. After reading "We declared Kazuo Ishiguro a master after reading Never Let me Go and although we may have second guessed his brilliance after Remains of the Day..." I clutched my heart, sank into my seat, and screamed, "I'm comin', Elizabeth!!"

    Remains of the Day may or may not be one of my favorite books. But, I'm glad we can both appreciate the talents of Ishiguro. :D