It was only by chance that I picked up this book from a person de-cluttering his stock of books on Facebook. I had a faint recollection of the author (Kazuo Ishiguro) from somewhere and decided to read it. What started as a story of love and despair for 3 teenagers studying at Hailsham, an English countryside residential school, changed course and converged into an elegiac novel of the soulless soul. While it may sound every bit nonplussing, delving any further into the intricacies of the plot might mar the experience of the reader.
Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are students at Hailsham, a residential school for ‘special’ children. Kathy, now 31 years old, narrates the story in flashback with events from the present often intertwined. And while life unfolds at Hailsham and beyond, there is an eerie backdrop of an ever lurking mystery. As a reader, one would be ever looking to find clues in knowing the untold, but astonishingly the nonchalance with which the author clears the mystery and goes on with the narrative makes one realise that the true character of the story was never its mysterious backdrop.
Some of the best things about the writing is the conversational tone that has been used throughout and the depth of the emotions that brings out without being overtly vocal. Then there are these small little anecdotes which when you read and think back will often take you back to your childhood (or rather teenhood). A great example would be the concept of Norfolk being the Lost corner of England in the sense that anything that was lost could be found there. And it all started with the mention of the word Lost Corner during one of the lessons on the districts of England. This is the kind of innocent simplicity that we were all part of during our growing up days and this is what resonates the most when one reads the book.
‘You see, because it’s stuck out here on the east, on this hump jutting into the sea, it’s not on the way to anywhere. People going north and south’ – she moved the pointer up and down – ‘they bypass it altogether. For that reason, it’s a peaceful corner of England, rather nice. But it’s also something of a lost corner.’
A lost corner. That’s what she called it, and that was what started it. Because at Hailsham, we had our own ‘Lost Corner’ up on the third floor, where the lost property was kept; if you lost or found anything, that’s where you went.
To be honest, this is one of the few books where I donot understand if I really do like the book or not. I think its kind of a prose that may leave you, it definitely has left me, in a paralysed state of mind; where you do feel the emotions – the love , the pain, the despair but on the surface you remain as calm as if nothing has gone past it. To round it off, I would say this is the kind of writing where the emotions are not conveyed through the words that the author has chosen, neither the characters that play it out, but the setting of the work and the ability or the intent of the reader to bring it to the fore.
For me, I will not stop at this, I will be exploring the other works of Ishiguro to know more about this man who writes in two planes at once.
My rating : 3.5/5
Buy it here : Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Categories: book review