So I want to start out by saying that I am going to be deliberately vague about the finer points of this novel. Like others on this list, I have avoided any kind of advance knowledge about the plot of this book because I wanted to go in and come out again having experienced the book as a whole, not tainted by any pre-conceived ideas about it. And I am so thankful that did this. All I knew was that it has been classified as a British Science Fiction novel about three people who grew up in a private boarding school establishment who grow to be more aware of their significance and contribution to the world they live in. From this point onwards as said earlier, I will be vague but still will give more specific details so if you want to go into this book like I did, which by the way I recommend, then STOP READING NOW!
Kathy is a thirty-one year old carer, of which she has been for the past eleven years. When a patient learns that Kathy is from the esteemed and now defunct school Hailsham, he asks Kathy to let him know all of her memories and experiences. With this, it sets Kathy to reminiscing, about her time at Hailsham, in particular her relationship with two of her school mates Tommy and Ruth and how the path for their life was laid out .
Despite shielding myself from any spoilers, I did go into this novel with high expectations, and these were easily exceeded. Having seen it described as “a tale of deceptive simplicity” it is hard to find anything more apt to describe it myself. Kathy’s tale slowly unfolds, one memory leading to another in an almost conversational recollection. This never becomes confusing, rather the reader is taken along, snippets revealed here and there. There is no complex weaving of multiple narratives, the timeline despite being a recollection moves in a linear manner, the language is clear and straight forward. But this simplicity is deceptive, because this story is full and layered. There is a analogy here, about what we as humans do for the supposed greater good. Does the end always justify the means? Also the question of destiny, if the destination is known does it matter what we do on the path towards it? Does that journey matter at all?
I currently have the movie waiting beside my player, all ready for me to watch. Much is made of the love story on the DVD cover that has already made me so wary to watch it and so if you have seen the movie but not yet read the book I implore you to rush give it a read as it will be well worth your time. As is generally the case of any movie (or TV show ) adapted from a novel.
Ishiguro is truly a masterful storyteller, entwining these questions, these comments on destiny and purpose, into a story that is enthralling as much as it gives the reader much to mull over. The simplicity is the way it is told, the deception is in what is being told. I can see this story not letting me go for quite a while yet.
One more thing – yay for number one being done and dusted!