I decided to write a short review of A Pale View of Hills while the novel is still fresh in my mind. I have finished reading it this afternoon. I should probably mention that this is not my first novel by Ishiguro. I have already read several of his novels. I happened to like them all immensely. In that sense, it can be said that I started reading this one expecting to like it. Did I like it? Yes, I did like it. Moreover, I think it is an exceptional novel. Masterfully written and full of haunting sadness, it is not the kind of novel that can be found every day. So, just like with all the novels of this author, I fully enjoyed the reading experience.
That all being said, I was surprised at just how 'easy' it was to read and how the story just seemed to flow. I just couldn't put it down. I had that feeling of having to finish it in one go, having to read it in one afternoon, so I did. However, I must say I was surprised to find out that it was Ishiguro’s first novel. I may have heard about that, but I forgot about it. So, while I was reading I didn't know it was the first. Having read it, I researched this novel a bit and I stumbled on some interviews with the author himself on youtube. I also found one lecture of his that I found absolutely fascinating. In fact, I'm listening to one of Ishiguro's lectures as we I’m writing this review.
What is really interesting is that in his lecture (the one that I'm currently listening to) he said he envies his younger self. Ishiguro said he would admire his 20-something self if they met. Furthermore, he elaborated stating how younger writers have a specific kind of energy. Perhaps that is that. That energy is what makes the novel flow. It feels so mature, so very much his style, but why it shouldn't? Just because it is his first novel, it doesn't mean that it is any less mature than the other ones. Now, if you have read Ishiguro before, you are familiar with his use of ambiguity and unreliable narrators. I certainly am. As someone who loved The Turn of the Screw, I can’t help making the comparison between the two.
So, I'm not the sort of person who will complain about unreliable narrators. I happen to think we are all unreliable narrators. We can’t really trust ourselves. I actually believe that a good use of an unreliable narrator can make a novel brilliant. Nevertheless, when I read that last page, I was almost in a state of shock. Is this really the end? Who is who? What is true? I felt very much confused. After few moments, I managed to come to my senses. This is a wonderful novel, said that voice from within. I think I must trust it on this one.
What is really fascinating is that my brain came with about a dozen of different interpretations of what the story in this novel really is or how it went. It is ambiguity at its very best. I spend all evening thinking about it. I will probably spend the next week thinking about it. It is indeed possible that I will think about it for the rest of my life. That is, for me, a sign a true masterpiece.