As I mentioned in my past blogs that author Kazuo Ishiguro has been my discovery of 2017 and it has been an extremely joyful experience reading his books .
He is the Nobel prize winner of English Literature of 2017 and is based in England .Author is of Japanese descent and “A pale View of the Hills” had been one of his earlier books where a part of the story is based in post war Nagasaki .
The protagonist is a Japanese woman , Etsuko ,who resides in an apartment complex with her husband .It is a very traditional house hold where she is a perfect wife and a daughter-in -law and is pregnant with her first child . The times are post war ,when the country is coming to terms with the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People have lost lots of near and dear ones and are making difficult decisions in life.
We witness , as the times are changing ,so are societal mores and people are not satisfied with the past ways and they are looking for ways to better their lives .
On the surface Etsuko approves of her own life and disapproves of the ways of her friend Sachiko who is a single mom and is trying to raise her daughter in these difficult times .But Sachiko is not very hopeful about her and her daughter’s future Nagasaki and wants to leave for greener pastures with her American boy friend who does not seem to be very responsible .
We meet the same Etsuko in her later part of life in England when her daughter from her first husband has committed suicide and she is a single woman who is adjusting to the ways of her, second daughter ,from her second husband in a foreign land .
As like other Ishiguro novels , a lot is being conveyed than what it appears to be and hence it leaves us with many interpretations.
In the book ,our protagonist in her early part of life, represents a woman of a traditional society, who is expected to fulfill her roles without getting her own expectations fulfilled .We see her first husband who is a hard working man and a good son but emotionally leaves a big void in her life as her husband .
Her father in law who loves them as a family but expects a certain kind of subservience from the younger generation and cannot come to terms with the ways of the present generation .It is totally new to him that there could be a different point of view than his, as he is older, however wrong or right that could be .
Etsuko befriends Sachiko who is a single mom. She would do anything to be freed of her present life. where she would have to spend it at her Uncle’s place and she is ready to embark on a journey even with a slippery foot hold .
Sachiko’s daughter , Mariko , who is about eight years old and is very emotionally disturbed She does not have a stable home and does not go to school because of financial hardships .She hates her mother’s American friend and does not want to leave her pets and the country.
When we come to the second part of the novel which is told in the first part of the book ,we do not know how Etsuko met her second husband , how she came to England and how happy she was in her later life but possibly by telling the story of Sachiko, she tells it all .
Though the story is based in post world war -II times but as we read it we know it is still so contemporary .Even after so many years , it is still our story .
Etsuko still represents us as a modern day woman where you are expected to relinquish your wishes on the altar of life, if they do not concur. We take the blame and are ready to be blamed for every thing if some outcomes are not as expected .
Etsuko’s daughter from her first husband commits suicide as she is not able to adjust to her new surroundings and I am sure it would always be the mother who would be cited as the cause , who decided to take a drastic step and did not prove to be a good mother .
Etsuko’s second daughter who was possibly born in the UK and does not want to be at her mother’s side even in her trying times as she has a life of her own and has her own ways .As a mother , she has to accept it to keep the mother daughter relationship going .
Its ironical that women after embarking on a long journey from the past times and even after achieving so many mile stones, is agreeable to her vulnerable status .The society is always ready to send her on a guilt trip if she decides to carve out a path for herself .The cistern starts leaking from all the places if she does not prove to be a good glue .
As always , Ishiguro is a master story teller and had perfected his art even in his earlier books .”Pale View Of the Hills “is an extremely interactive novel and lets us have many school of thoughts and he maintains his usual style of camouflaged simplicity .His description of the war in subtlety without going into the gruesomeness of it makes it more readable .We get a glimpse of Japan as a very traditional society with its own pros and cons .
‘On a lighter note, we have to be extremely alert while reading his books and cannot skip pages or dose off or you would have to go back to it again .
It was wonderful sharing with you an amazingly beautiful novel .
Have a great weekend and would talk to you soon .