Ishiguro's A Pale View of the Hills
, despite being his debut, is no less an emotional tale than his other better known works. It is a delicately woven tapestry of several themes, stitched together by the gift of Ishiguro's masterful but tender story-telling.
Through the eyes of Etsuko, the protagonist, we witness a war-ravaged Japan trying to rise from its ashes - torn between the difficult choice of shunning past ideologies which lured it down the path of ruin or holding on to the frail sentimentality of traditions. The narrative switches back and forth between Etsuko's present where she is merely drifting through life in England with a daughter she barely knows and her memories of one particular summer in Japan when she came across a dysfunctional mother-daughter duo. We see women in a changing society who slowly begin to assert themselves, while a passive and pregnant Etsuko merely observes. It's almost as if Etsuko's life itself is an allegory of her homeland during turbulent times, about to undergo a major paradigm shift.
A beautifully narrated account of loss, loneliness, self assertion and the aftermath of war.
P.S.:- In all earnestness, this book deserves 3 stars but I choose to be a bit more generous. My 4-star-rating has lots to do with my bias for Japan and stories with a feminist slant. My love for Ishiguro can also be blamed.