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What are you reading? May 2011

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LoobyG
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Posts: 568
Joined: April 2010
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Post by LoobyG » Wed May 11th, 2011, 3:40 pm

'Never let me go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. I found the film incredibly sad, so let's see how I get on with the book.

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4233
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Wed May 11th, 2011, 5:23 pm

I thought Never Let Me Go was an excellent book and the subject matter not beyond the realms of possibility.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Location: Franklin, TN
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Thu May 12th, 2011, 3:47 am

I'm currently reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. So far I absolutely love it. Ancient books, illuminated manuscripts, lush landscapes, magic...I love this book. I hope it doesn't go downhill and disappoint me.

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4233
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Thu May 12th, 2011, 8:22 am

I loved A Discovery of Witches - the first in a trilogy, I think.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Madeleine
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Posts: 5716
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Infirmary" by L J Ross
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Thu May 12th, 2011, 8:57 am

I'm really looking forward to reading this.
Currently reading: "The Infirmary" by L J Ross

writerinthenorth
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Posts: 107
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Never Let Me Go

Post by writerinthenorth » Thu May 12th, 2011, 9:37 am

Here is my review of 'Never Let Me Go':

The key ingredient to Kazuo Ishiguro's success with the reader in this understated but deeply disturbing novel (and, incidentally, why I am doubtful whether the film adaptation, which I haven't seen yet, will work with the viewer) is the way he lets us see everything through narrator Kathy's perspective - and then some - without ever changing that perspective. The effect is that we gradually come to an agonized understanding of the helplessness behind her nostalgic naivete and walk with her towards an abyss which she cannot or will not fully acknowledge.

Although Kathy is at one level aware that she and her friends are clones, nurtured to become spare human part providers in this alternatively real 70s-90s Britain (a bleak, soviet environment), she fails to grasp the horrifying nature of their fate. Everything is wrapped in euphemism - carers, donors, recovery centre, completion - and what is effectively imprisonment is remembered as a sort of pleasant boarding school with quirky rules and a few eccentric 'guardians'. Although she is puzzled by certain events and actions, and follows her friends Ruth and Tommy in pursuing various clues and rumours, she does so in a fellow passenger sort of way. She is not without motivation, but this is directed into trying to understand her friends and help them maintain equilibrium (the only times she seems anxious are when equilibrium is disturbed), rather than in exploring the wider questions of purpose and destiny.

Ruth is a larger personality than the acquiescent Kathy, intensely egocentric and manipulative, especially of her friends. She does achieve a kind of maturity before her own 'completion' when she turns her manipulative skills away from spite and offers what she genuinely believes to be good advice that will bring Kathy and Tommy together and offer them a chance at least to defer their inevitable demise.

The only character who seems to have glimpses of the horror that awaits is Tommy; ironically his clearer perception leads to unpopularity among his peers at the establishment, and to his being labelled as inferior intellectually, creatively and emotionally. Tommy's tragedy is that the opposite is the case.

Ishiguro is at his brilliant best in developing the relationship between Kathy and Tommy. I hope it is not bathetic to say that, while I was reading and thinking about these two, a couple of lines from Paul Simon's song 'America' would repeat in my head:

'Kathy I'm lost,' I said, though I knew she was sleeping.
'I'm empty and aching, and I don't know why.'

I won't reveal the end of the story, not because it is particularly dramatic or surprising, but it needs to be arrived at in the walk of the narrative. I will only say that the last long paragraph of the book is masterful, summative, absolutely character-precise, and left this reader emotionally drained. When I consider that Ishiguro has done all of that through the medium of a narrator whom he has persuaded me across nearly three hundred pages is emotionally neutral, I can only put my hand up and salute great writing.


Reviewer David Williams writes a regular blog as Writer in the North.

writerinthenorth
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The Remains of the Day, REVIEW

Post by writerinthenorth » Thu May 12th, 2011, 9:41 am

[quote=""writerinthenorth""]I have come rather late to 'The Remains of the Day' by Kazuo Ishiguro. Wonderful; five stars.

Writer in the North[/quote]

Here is my review of 'The Remains of the Day':



Usually I like to read a book before seeing a film adaptation, but in this case I came to the book late, several years after seeing 'The Remains of the Day' on screen. It meant that the narrator and central character, the butler Stevens, arrived for me entirely in the voice and form of Anthony Hopkins. Far from this being a distraction it worked wonderfully, like having one of the world's greatest actors come to read to you personally. It also worked the other way, allowing me to appreciate even more how well Hopkins had interpreted the part.

I am aware that authors can get irritated by readers who start to talk about the film version in tandem with the book - and I have heard Ishiguro admit that it took him a while to reconcile himself to the oft-heard line 'James Ivory's Remains of the Day' - but I also know that the author admires the film a great deal and sees it not just as complementary but as a separate piece of art in its own right; exactly my sentiment.

What Ishiguro does so well is to convey nuance through voice, and that is precisely Hopkins' strength, one of the reasons he was the ideal choice for Stevens. The book, of course, allows much more scope with its use of interior monologue, often to comment on the action that he describes, and which in the film we see played out as it happens. The book structure has Stevens in the mid-1950s taking a leisurely drive across south-west England to meet up after many years with former housekeeper Miss Kenton (now married), and during the trip reflecting upon his years at Darlington Hall, his relationship with Miss Kenton and with his employer, Lord Darlington. It is a useful, fluid device that gives the author the flexibility to roam where he wants across the intervening years, to give us hints and glimpses of things that Stevens has not yet fully revealed.

One thing we learn gradually is that Stevens' employer is a Nazi sympathiser and anti-semite who has been used as a pawn by Hitler's men to try and keep Britain out of the coming World War. Darlington is not an essentially bad man but (like the butler who acts as his apologist) has a very limited world view, distorted by long-held assumptions of class, privilege and tradition. It makes both men myopic in other ways too. The callous dismissal of two faithful female servants who happen to be Jewish is one result of that affliction. For Stevens, his inability to properly recognize the love he is being offered by Miss Kenton, or to interpret for himself (never mind articulate for her) his own inner feelings, is ultimately disastrous.

'The Remains of the Day' can be seen as a political parable (the unthinking obedience of the British servant to the ruling classes has its parallel in the response of the 'ordinary' Germans to their political masters), or as an elegy on the British class system; but it is most powerful at the level of individual lives, as a love story whose tragedy is that it never got going, whose principals are left, in the remains of the day, alone in their unspoken desperation.





Reviewer David Williams maintains a regular blog as Writer in the North.
Last edited by writerinthenorth on Wed September 28th, 2011, 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: character name error

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Thu May 12th, 2011, 8:41 pm

[quote=""Alisha Marie Klapheke""]I'm currently reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. So far I absolutely love it. Ancient books, illuminated manuscripts, lush landscapes, magic...I love this book. I hope it doesn't go downhill and disappoint me.[/quote]

I finished DoW recently. I enjoyed it a lot, and loved the ending (as in, the direction it's headed :)

Elizabeth I is picking up steam. At first, I felt a bit 'dropped-into-the-middle-of-it' because the book starts with the Armada and I struggled to get a sense of Elizabeth as a character, meeting her at this stage in her life without any build-up, but now that I've got my bearings, I'm starting to really enjoy it. Lettice is a piece of work.
Last edited by cw gortner on Thu May 12th, 2011, 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN


www.cwgortner.com

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4233
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Thu May 12th, 2011, 9:14 pm

I'm just about to start Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Berengaria
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Posts: 307
Joined: July 2010
Location: northern Vancouver Island, BC Canada

Post by Berengaria » Fri May 13th, 2011, 1:09 am

I'm throughly enjoying Smith's Queen by Rightabout Cecily Neville. I like to read it in bed, when everything is nice and quiet. However, I've been losing sleep time, because I'm saying to myself "Just onemore chapter! :D
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