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.