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Reviews Written by
Mr. Sj Dilley "Stephen Dilley" (Cambridge)

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Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 21 April 2006
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
On the outset, this may appear very different to "Remains of the Day"- for one thing, the narrator seems determined to tell the truth, and the world it is set in is very different. But when one looks deeper, many similarities become evident- for one thing, however hard Kathy, the narrator of this book is trying to tell us what is going on, we still feel alienated from her, because the world she is describing, whilst similar in some resepcts, is so different from our own, and she struggles to explain everything to us- Ishiguro's subtletly here is masterly, as he tantalisingly leaves us clues and then doesn't explain them for another 50 pages. What might seem the most important thing that Kathy needs to tell us is seemingly so obvious to Kathy that she doesn't even mention it till nearly two thirds of the way through, while even the opening terms of "Carer" and "Donor" are not formally expanded on till quite some way into it. However much Kathy may be trying to tell us the truth, the truth is as hard to grasp at as in "Remains of the Day". Another simialrity is the idea of a life wasted in service to others- of a different kind of course, but nonetheless very powerfully present.

On the face of it, the narrative voice appears very simplistic, almost gratingly so. But if you look beyond this, there is great joy to be had in watching Ishiguro, a great artist at work. Few other authors have the ability to make you notice their little tricks withouit guessing their secrets, and he is fascinating in that he manages to be so transparent in his technique, yet also keep so much hidden- much of the time we know that he is hiding SOMETHING and can see how he is hiding it, but we do not know what.

In addition, this book is a stunningly good adult book about childhood (but a differnet kind of childhood)- while there are definitely adult elements to the depiction on childhood in JK ROwling and PHilip Pullman, the depiction of childhood friendships here is immensely powerful because it is placed in the context of the tragedy which follows it. There are other elements of childhood adventures here but they read very differently because of this.

A beautiful book, and very hard to pigeonhole- it may be science fiction, but like any of Ishiguro's book, the subject and setting is subordinate to the insight into human nature (or is it human nature here?) it throws up, and the use of the narrative voice. Read it.

The Little World of Don Camillo
The Little World of Don Camillo
by Giovanni Guareschi
Edition: Paperback

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 24 Mar. 2004
I picked up a second hand copy after it was recommended by a friend, and I absolutely loved this for its simplicity. It is beautiful, light reading, told in short chapters. Guareschi really evokes the setting of the PO valley, and the characters are wonderful. Not a terribly deep book, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. It will lift your spirits.

Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels
Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels
by Deirdre Le Faye
Edition: Paperback

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting background detail, 23 Mar. 2004
If you want a book which provides in-depth analysis into the wealth of characterisation, psychology etc. in Jane Austen's work, this isn't the book for you. If however, you want something which tells you all about the background behind her writing the novels, both in terms of the circumstances of their compostion, and int erms of life and social trends in that period, I would whole-heartedly recommend this book. Also, this is a book which does exactly what it says on the cover, it tells you abot the world of her novels. le Faye has meticulously extracted every last detail from her novels, to create a comprehensive guide to the settings of her books. For example, when talking about Emma, we are led through the town of Highbury, with Le Faye confidently describing every last building and its relation to the events of the story. Another example would be in Persuasion, where Le Faye gave the correct order of precedence for the charaacters when entering and leaving the room.
This is not just a book about the early 19th century, nor is it just a book about Jane Austen. For anyone who longs to be a character in a Jane Austen novel, this is for you. SOmething drew me to this book, as just being a fundamentally nice book to have. Perhaps not an outstandingly scholarly read, but enjoyable and fascinating nonetheless.

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