5 April 2018

The Buried Giant / Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro's name may sound familiar to you, as it did to me, owing to the success of two of his novels and their equally popular movie adaptations: The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. If you've read and/or seen both, you'll know how dissimilar these works are, and here again Ishiguro invites us to follow him down a completely different path.

The Romans have left Britain. King Arthur is dead. Ogres and pixies are familiar annoyances, and a strange mist shrouds the memories of the island's inhabitants. Beatrice and Axl, an elderly Briton couple whose presence is becoming increasingly unwelcome in their collective hillside-dug warren, feel compelled to visit their son some distance away. Thus begins a journey through harsh landscape to a place they can't quite remember, in the hope of seeing someone whose face they've forgotten.

This tale is told in the tradition of adventure stories, with companions picked up along the way — an ancient knight in a rusty armour, a skilled warrior, a fierce-souled young boy —, perils, coincidences, separations and reunions, deception and betrayal... and, of course, a dragon (and a princess!).

While this novel, where hostilities between Britons and Saxons lie buried just below the surface and peace may prove just as fleeting as memory, could easily be viewed as an allegory, but I chose to read it as a fairytale for grown-ups. Kazuo Ishiguro's lively descriptions and dialogues contribute to making his world believable and the reader feel connected to his characters. The relationship between Beatrice and Axl managed to be simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. Although slow moving at times, the plot remained gripping until the very last sentence. Seriously, that final chapter!

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go and read everything else Ishiguro has ever published.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Rating: ****

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