Customer Reviews


51 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (26)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choosing to Tell
This is an amazing first novel and it is a good introduction to Ishiguro for readers who haven't read his books before. It is so delicately told from the point of view of a woman who has survived WWII. You are given only brief personal glimpses of her life, yet those glimpses spark an enormous amount of questions revealing her to be a woman of deep complexity. You would...
Published on 14 Nov 2002 by Eric Anderson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars beautiful writing yet somehow unfulfilling
I find this author's writing delightful but as with the Unconsoled (but less so) the book left me wanting more
Published 6 days ago by Mal


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choosing to Tell, 14 Nov 2002
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
This is an amazing first novel and it is a good introduction to Ishiguro for readers who haven't read his books before. It is so delicately told from the point of view of a woman who has survived WWII. You are given only brief personal glimpses of her life, yet those glimpses spark an enormous amount of questions revealing her to be a woman of deep complexity. You would expect her to be pondering the life of her daughter Keiko, but she spends most of her time remembering the mysterious woman Sachiko who she knew briefly in Nagasaki. Over the course of reading the novel you begin to understand that this is a way for her to process her emotions over her daughter's death. Pondering the mysteries of a woman she can never understand is preferable to admitting the responsibility for her daughter's suicide. Perhaps she contributed in some way to her death? From her obsession with Sachiko and Sachiko's daughter Mariko we understand that she is possibly drawing parallels between the girls. While this mystery looms in the background you are brought deeply into her observations of Sachiko and her story of a single woman trying to survive independently. Through the entire time Ishiguro is very careful about what is and is not given away. He is a master at telling and not telling. The selection that goes into telling has an impact on the way we interpret what is told. In this way he explores human complexities that few other writers are able to dig into. Our view of Etsuko, like our view of Nagasaki, is blurred and from this not quite clear view we understand that this Japanese woman still has a lot more to tell.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, subtle, haunting, 17 Aug 2009
By 
A. R. Caswell "Skye" (swansea, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
This is such a wonderful book. Ishiguro is a master of atmosphere and subtlety... he doesn't shout and wave his arms when making his points, but only murmurs... you do have to pay attention. This is wonderfully, eerily effective in A Pale View of Hills. I bought this book yesterday and have read it twice already... the first time, as another reviewer mentioned, my hair nearly stood on end when I reached the last dozen pages; the second time I combed through looking for all the clues I hadn't realized were clues the first time (her husband's missing tie, the rope tangled around her sandle, Mariko's frequent fearful retreats, so many things!). Memory is unreliable indeed, and time folds over on itself.

After loving Never Let Me Go so much I was afraid that a debut novel could only be a disappointment, but this is not at all the case here. If you've read any of Ishiguro's other wonderful works, give this one a try as well. Pay attention, it's very much worth it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, slow burning, highly readable and ultimately satisfying, 2 Jan 2012
Having just finished `A Pale View of Hills' and this being the only Ishiguro novel I've tried, my first impressions of this author are good. The story is told from the point of view of Etsuko, a Japanese widow living in rural England while coming to terms with her daughter Keiko's suicide. The perspective shifts in time, often abruptly, from post-war Japan to her time in England.

His style here is understated, subtle and at times deceptively mundane - I occasionally found myself longing for some devastating event or revelation, however this I think is wholly intentional of the approach, the impact comes from what is not said and what is left to your imagination. There are a number of passages in the book that furnish a sense of unease through the subtly haunting imagery and suggest darker things than are made explicit.

The story deals with themes of gender roles, treatment of children and reliability of memory. The ending is ultimately ambiguous with the reader being left to piece together many elements of the plot that don't add up. This, to my mind is a good thing however readers that appreciate novels where `all the loose ends' are tied up and concrete explanations are given will probably think differently.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pale View of Hills, 29 April 2011
By 
N. A. Spencer - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
A Pale View of Hills is Kazuo Ishiguro's debut novel. However, this fact should not sway your decision if you are thinking of reading the book; it is an accomplished piece of work. The story is narrated by the central character Etsuko, who has left post-war Nagasaki and lives alone in England. She was the mother of two daughters but we learn from the novel that her older daughter Keiko has recently taken her own life. Etsuko receives a visit from her other daughter Niki, and it is during this visit that the novel is based. As mother and daughter talk about the loss of Keiko, Etsuko cannot help but lose herself in thought, drifting back to her life in post-war Nagasaki before her daughters were born. The narrative moves effortlessly between the present and the past as Etsuko recalls one particular summer in Nagasaki and the bizarrely brief friendship she experienced with another mother, Sachiko. Through Etsuko's thoughts Ishiguro is able to explore the changing reaction that is happening between the younger and older generations in post-war Nagasaki. There is also mention of the challenges that face the old traditions and the position on the roles of women within Japanese society. When the narrative moves to the present it is interesting to see the contrast of opinion between Etsuko and Niki as Niki finds her lifestyle in London being examined by her mother. The twin themes of identity and memory are prevalent within the novel as each generation questions their predecessors. As to which holds the truth cannot be answered.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pay Attention, 26 Mar 2007
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
Having read "Never Let Me Go" and "The Remains of the Day", I was expecting a novel that left me asking questions and would make me feel a little bit empty. I was not wrong.

That is not to say that Kazuo Ishigur's novels are bad. Far from it. But if you expect to put this novel down with a neat happy ending and no questions you'll be disappointed and confused.

You really need to pay attention to the novel to understand it, there are sublte hints which at first might not make much sense, but do not dismiss them out of hand.

If you're still missing the plot there's plenty of online sources out there which will explain the plot to you in a little more detail, but don't look at these until you've finished the book.

When it all falls into place I'll guarantee you'll see why this book is actually far more intelligent than it originally seems.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master of Memory, 2 April 2010
By 
A. Brown "oneexwidow" (Bristol) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favourite novelists and I find reading one of his books is a bit like putting on a pair of old shoes that haven't been worn in a while - slightly strange at first while your feet adjust to the contours and feel of them. Once adjusted to his writing style though, he carries you along with tales which hint at hidden secrets kept tantalising just out of reach.

As with some of his other novels, much of the story told in flashback and explores the reliability of memory and the perspective that comes with age. If the past truly is a different country, though, it is doubly so here, set as it is in post-war Nagasaki.

The main protagonist is Etsuko who following the death of her daughter is reminded of a friendship she formed as a young woman in Japan before she moved to England. The book is largely set in a Japan in the throes of post war reconstruction and the Atom bomb is still a recent memory.

While some of the dialogue may seem overly-formal, stilted and lacking naturalism, I take this to be a reflection of the societal norms in Japan at that time. In places, it's almost as if it had been written in the Japanese and re-translated to English.

Throughout the book seems to be nothing more than a middle-aged woman remembering the events of a summer years below from which she is drawing parallels with the obvious future path of her own life. It is only in the last few pages that the extent of the unreliability of memory - and the ability of the mind to consciously or subconsciously construct it's own perspective of events - become, for want of a better word, clear.

This is book which leaves so many loose ends it's hard to know where to begin to sort them out. Paradoxically, it is this lack of clarity which makes the book all the more satisfying. It's as if by leaving the reader with lots of questions, Ishiguro neatly illustrates his point.

Andrew
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fine debut novel, maybe better than his later ones, 25 Sep 2011
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
The novel's narrator, Etsuko, is a Japanese woman now living alone in England. As a younger woman she lived in Nagasaki with her first husband Jiro, with whom she had a daughter, Keiko. During the novel we learn that she eventually left Jiro, and married an Englishman with whom she moved to England and had another daughter, Niki. At the start of the novel she is visited by Niki, now an adult, and we learn that Keiko has recently committed suicide. The core of the novel is Etsuko's recollections of her time in Nagasaki whilst she was pregnant with Keiko, and in particular her friendship with a Japanese woman, Sachiko, and her daughter Mariko. Through these recollections we learn a great deal about Sachiko and Mariko, especially about Sachiko's desire to move to America and her concerns about whether such a move will be good or bad for Mariko. There is also considerable focus on Etsuko's recollections of Jiro's father, Ogata, who was a teacher in pre-war Japan, and his regrets that in post-war Japan schools no longer focus on the ideals of Japanese national identity which he emphasised during his own teaching career.

I have read most of Ishiguro's novels but had never previously read this, his first book. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it shares common features with many of his later works: it is relatively short; it is written in a terse but elegant way, focusing on the characters and their interactions and avoiding long descriptive sections; its focus is recollections by the central character about her past life, and what we learn from these both about her and about wider human concerns; it develops an atmosphere of mystery and suspense even though there is little tangible action throughout the book; and there is (deliberate?) ambiguity about the conclusions that should be drawn.

In this book the principal ambiguity concerns the interpretation to be placed on the characters of Sachiko and Mariko. Are these real people, or are they a metaphor for Etsuko and Keiko? The latter interpretation potentially makes sense on the basis that Etsuko feels guilty that Keiko's unhappy life and eventual suicide resulted from her enforced move to England: Sachiko's agonising about whether to move to America might be seen as Etsuko's attempt to rationalise her own decision to leave Japan. Ishiguro seems to offer some possible clues that this is the right interpretation: e.g. towards the end of the book Etsuko's narrative about Sachiko and Mariko briefly changes from the third to the first person, as if she has temporarily forgotten that her recollections are supposedly about other people rather than about her own actions.

Sachiko's (Etsuko's?) agonising about whether or not to leave Japan in search of a Westernised life style contrasts with Ogata's nostalgia for a lost Japanese lifestyle based more on traditional values of family and national identity rather than on the American consumerism that attracts Sachiko. By contrast one of the minor characters, Mrs Fujiwara, who lost most of her family when the atomic bomb destroyed Nagasaki, has adapted herself to a new life there and appears to be happier than either Ogata or Sachiko. These life choices - is it better to stand out for traditional values or adapt to new ones? And is one sort of life style intrinsically better than others? - might or might not be Ishiguro's central concern in writing the novel: once again there is ambiguity about how to interpret what he has written.

I enjoy Ishiguro's writing, as regards both subject matter and style. At the same time, though, I have found aspects of each of his books unsatisfactory. Somewhat to my surprise, considering that this was his debut novel, I found fewer problems with it than with his later books. My main objection to this book is the somewhat quirky nature of each of the main characters. They all periodically behave strangely, and make strange responses to other characters' comments. For example, Sachiko frequently misunderstands what Etsuko says to her. Whether this is accidental or deliberate isn't usually clear; neither is it clear what it is about her that causes her to misunderstand so often. Sachiko also behaves oddly towards Mariko, sometimes adopting a very casual attitude towards her safety which sits uneasily with her, at other times, seemingly excessive degree of concern. Again, there seems to be no good reason for such inconsistencies. Of course people do behave inconsistently in real life, but there is usually a reason for this, often related to aspects of their life experiences, and in a novel it is usually desirable if this is explained, rather than simply described without comment. Of course, it might be argued that the supposed quirkiness is simply a product of Etsuko's imperfect memory of behaviour that is now far in the past (or, if one adopts the metaphor-based interpretation of the novel, it might result from her difficulty in consistently applying the metaphor). It could also be argued that the quirkiness of the characters contributes to the elements of tension and mystery in the narrative. On balance, though, I found the characters' quirkiness a negative rather than a positive feature of the book, and I felt that Ishiguro could have achieved the same overall results more satisfactorily without this feature of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, perhaps more than any of his later ones. It should be clear from what I have written that this was a book that made me think, and I interpret this as a good indicator of quality. That said, whilst recognising the many merits of Ishiguro's writing, I'm not convinced that he is quite as good as his very high reputation would suggest. I would put him a bit below the very best writers who have produced work during the thirty or so years over which he has been publishing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and beautiful, 27 Nov 2009
By 
Poike (Tokyo, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
After reading The Remains of The Day, Never Let Me Go and Nocturnes, I decided to buy A Pale View of Hills for I would like to know what Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel was like.

As the previous books I read, his first novel did not betray my expectations. As his later published novels his writing is as subtle as ever and describes Etsuko's character so beatifully. Etsuko, a pre war born traditional Japnese woman currently residing in England recalls her one summer season in Nagasaki after the city was completely destroyed by atomic bomb and people were struggling so hard to rebuild their own life. Her first marriage there ended in failure. Then,she married an English again and went to England with her first born daughter, Keiko. However, Keiko killed herself for she could not adjust herself to the new living environment of England. Etsuko's husband died sometime ago too.

There are so many predicaments in her life and her soul must be so wounded. Ishiguro does not use exaggerating or dramatic expressions to describe inner most part of her mind, but his fine writing just fits to depict a typical Japanese woman of old generation who is outwardly docile but inwardly so firm and strong. Also, I feel there are many unspoken words between sentences leaving the readers feel whatever they want to feel. There is not a definite ending or direction in this story which I belive is a charm of Ishiguro's novel.

Although English is not my own native language, I enjoyed this book a great deal. Maybe because I am a Japanese woman.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought!, 5 Mar 2013
This review is from: A Pale View of Hills (Paperback)
During a visit from her younger daughter Niki, and following the recent suicide of her elder daughter Keiko, a Japanese woman, Etsuko, now living in England relives a particularly hot summer in Nagasaki following the war. She concentrates on her brief friendship with a strange woman, Sachiko and her disturbed daughter Mariko. Beyond saying that there is a moment of realization near the end that strikes like a hammer blow, I will not describe the plot any further as the reader needs to draw his/her own conclusions from a clean canvas since the novel is open to many interpretations.

Some may feel Ishiguro fails to satisfy the reader by leaving so many questions unanswered but I enjoyed the ambiguities and derived great pleasure from trying to work out what exactly the author meant to convey and wondering if I were hopelessly wide of the mark as each chapter unfolded.

It is not possible to discuss in any detail the various interpretations that may be inferred from such an unusual story without spoiling the journey for those who have yet to read this intriguing novel

I enjoyed Remains of the Day and Never let Me Go and found this debut novel did not disappoint. In fact, I considered this story to be even more enthralling than most of Ishiguro's other books. It is a powerful, if rather short novel on the great themes of loss and guilt. The writing is very subtle and the book must be read attentively or the reader will miss important plot points.

This is an ideal choice for book club discussion groups as the plot is open to so many possible interpretations and the characters themselves are enigmatic in the extreme.

Read, enjoy and discuss!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pale View of Hills, 20 Feb 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this a very well-written book. Kazuo Ishiguro has a very distinctive style of writing which appeals to me. A Pale View of Hills is a very moving story which, as previous reviewers have pointed out, does not have a neat and tidy ending. The storyline is open to interpretation but this didn't take away anything from my enjoyment of the book; on the contrary it added to it. A story which stayed with me long after I had finished reading it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Pale View of Hills
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (Paperback - 25 Feb 2010)
£5.59
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews