Tag: loss

A Thousand Paper Birds

This was a Netgalley read – thanks to Netgalley, publisher and especially to the author. I put off reviewing this one for a little bit as I think it’s one that I needed to ruminate on. A truly beautiful and creative read, dealing with themes of love and loss in a tender and poignant way.

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Descent

I actually found the descent into this book the hardest part. It had lovely language and detail but there was a little bit of jarring with voice…the “I” used only twice, pedantic I know, took me out of the narrative. The rest is in the third person. Admittedly, once was when one of the characters was reading from his notebook so, fine, but the other wasn’t. It is, no doubt, for impact, but it felt jarring. However,  aside from that, the description was stunning throughout – opening with Jonah’s grief as he is mourning the passing of his wife. We fall into his loss and are displaced as surely as he is.

Depth

The depth comes from the all-consuming sense that the characters have of being lost. Early on there is a sense that there is always a distance between individuals, that we can never know what they are truly thinking or feeling, even when you love them. Four characters converge throughout the narrative – Jonah (musician and teacher), Harry (gardener at Kew), Chloe (an artist) and Milly (a young girl) – all connected by the fifth character, Audrey and her death. The themes are summed up beautifully in the artwork created throughout the novel. I adored the creativity running through the novel – linking music, art, writing and all against the backdrop and art of nature in the setting of Kew Gardens.

Ascent

This one does stay with you – I know I will be revisiting it to muse over some the beautiful passages.

Book Review: Remains of the Day

We were a little overdue this month on holding our book club, but met to discuss book number two yesterday. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a poignant and thought provoking read, awarding lots of discussion.

It details the life of Stevens, a butler and his service to a Lord Darlington of Darlington Hall. Stevens embarks on a trip through the English countryside and reflects on his life and the events that have led him to where he is. In the choice of language, in the description of setting the reader soon understands he is struggling internally with the decisions he has made throughout his life.

At the very heart of the novel is his relationship with Ms Kenton, the housekeeper of Darlington Hall and we see throughout how he has missed opportunities to make connections with other people all his life. Instead he has quashed all emotion down and inhabits his role as a butler entirely, his core values and beliefs being to uphold and maintain a sense of dignity.

It is both fascinating and tragic how he clings to this belief in the beginning of the novel. Both the interactions with others and events over the course of the novel mean he is unable  to maintain this belief. At the end he is left with a fragile sense of self and filled with regret and loss.

Yes, heavy stuff, but soooooo worth reading – you’ll regret it if you don’t!

(We also watched the film afterwards, starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, which was very well done for the most part)

(Image from the 1993 film, Remains of the Day)

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