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A Pale View of Hills Hardcover – 1 Mar 1982

4.1 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Pub Group (T) (Mar. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399127186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399127182
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,331,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

A Pale View of Hills is the haunting debut novel from Booker Prize-winning Kazuo Ishiguro. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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The story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a story where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan's devastation in the wake of World War II. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read all of Kazuo Ishiguro's other novels/short stories but for some reason this, his debut, I left until last. If you haven't read the book yet please don't read my review as it contains details about the end of the story.

"A Pale View of Hills" is told through protagonist, Etsuko, an aging Japanese woman living in England. Etsuko's troubled daughter, Keiko, has recently committed suicide by hanging. Keiko has a younger half-sister, Niki, who is visiting Etsuko and the story is told through Etsuko's recollections of one Summer in Japan after the second World War.

Etsuko recalls a woman called Sachiko who lived nearby in Japan with a young daughter, Mariko. The dialogue between Etsuko and Sachiko is awkward and stilted and Sachiko, formally a wealthy woman, is patronising to Etsuko. Despite this they form a fragile friendship although it seems that Sachiko is using Etsuko on more than one occasion. Etsuso is pregnant with her first child and is concerned about how she will adapt to motherhood.

The only warmth in the story is the relationship between Etsuko and her Father-in-Law. Her husband is cold and treats her like a servant.

Etsuki mentions several times that three children have been murdered locally, one little girl hung from a tree. Little Mariko is neglected by her mother who has an American lover and is hoping to move to the US. Mariko is left alone for hours and often wanders alone in the dark forest and by the side of a lake. She seems very afraid of Etsuko and confuses her with a mysterious, possibly imaginary, woman who comes at night and tries to take her away.

Hanging is a theme throughout the book and on two occasions Etsuko claims that she had rope caught around her ankle.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To any writer, Kazuo Ishiguro's "A Pale View Of Hills" is a crushing phenomenon - a first novel that instantly enters the lists of the best books ever written. But there it is. Ishiguro's debut was incomparably assured, profound, and wise. More than that, it's a delight to read, enthralling to the last page.

It's one of Ishiguro's "Japanese" books - not only set partly in Japan, like "An Artist of the Floating World," but essentially Japanese in its combination of delicacy and steely strength, its oblique view of life, its devastatingly understated intelligence.

The story is narrated by two women, who are really the same woman: Etsuko Ogata, a young wife and expectant mother in post-war Japan, and Etsuko Sheringham, now middle-aged, remarried and living in Britain. However these Etsukos are very different, so divided by innocence and experience that they are almost separate people.

Both Etsukos are survivors of a recent tragedy. The young Etsuko has lost her fiancée, and much else, in the Nagasaki bombing. The older Etsuko has lost a daughter, Keiko, who has recently committed suicide. The two experiences of grief, loss and guilt are somehow linked in Etsuko's mind by a brief relationship which Etsuko remembers having in Nagasaki with a drifting demimondaine, Suchiko, and her eerie little daughter, Mariko. It is when the two Etsukos, young and old, finally come together that your hair will stand on end.

To reveal the plot would be to spoil things for the reader, because this (like all of Ishiguro's novels) is a mystery - a gripping mystery which the author unravels masterfully and at a perfect pace.
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