It was the summer of 1923, the summer I came down from Cambridge, when despite my aunt's wishes that I return to Shropshire, I decided my future lay in the capital and took up a small flat at Number 14b Bedford Gardens in Kensington.
–Kazuo Ishiguro - When we were orphans - c.2000 - pg.3
The narrator of this book, Christopher Banks, is a renowned detective in the 1930’s. One of England’s most famous detectives. Yet one case has always troubled him; the disappearance of his parents from their home in Shanghai when he was a boy. So he returns to his old home in order to investigate this case.
To be totally honest I found this book a little disappointing. Like many of his other books it is a more a look at the narrator than driven by any sort of plot. However instead of being intrigued I instead felt that I had already seen all this. I’m not saying that it is exactly the same as Ishiguro’s other novels, there are huge differences, however the general sense and atmosphere is still quite similar.
We can’t trust our narrator. We’re not sure whether anything he tells us is true or whether it is part of his own self-delusions. And great swathes of the story are never revealed. In other books this has worked well, Never Let Me Go for example it worked because the reader spent the early chapters trying to figure out exactly what was going on.
It is still a wonderfully written book. I just found it more frustrating than entertaining. Maybe if I’d read this before I read the likes of The Unconsoled I would have enjoyed it more. They struck me as being quite similar. Too similar in tone for me to appreciate both I think.
This post is tagged as UK author & Japanese author because the author was born in Japan but is a British citizen