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A Pale View of Hills
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(Good 'Ole) Summertime in Japan > A Pale View of Hills: a novel by Ishiguro

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message 1: by Betty (last edited Jun 01, 2012 07:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Just a sentence or two to start the topic:
A Pale View Of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel, relates the very human story of a Japanese woman, Etsuko, now in Britain, whose elder daughter just died. That family tragedy brings back her memory of life after the bomb had fallen on Nagasaki, Japan.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Quickly read through Part One, i.e., the first half. The story doesn't do much in that part except to introduce the characters and their backgrounds (remarriages, friends, family life) and to pose some difficult past circumstances (atomic bomb, deaths in the family, strange behaviors). The end of this Part leaves hanging what happened to the characters mentioned in it.

This seems the type of story that is low-keyed at the beginning and more intense by the ending. That is an optimistic guess.


Mikki | 89 comments My book hasn't arrived yet, but will join in discussion as soon as it does.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Mikki wrote: "My book hasn't arrived yet, but will join in discussion as soon as it does."

Great hearing from you Mikki.


message 5: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments Well I guess I'm committing myself by joining the group, even though I said "maybe" in response to the invitation.

I'm not sure what all I can read this summer, but this is the book I really want to read. I have to do a search to be sure I don't own it first then I'll get it. So I may be a little slow starting. Nice group here!


Mikki | 89 comments Sue, you joined! I'm happy to see you here.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue,
I agree with Mikki that it's wonderful you're part of this discussion :)


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments Thanks!! I couldn't resist the invitation. I requested the book and will probably pick it up on Monday. Then I'll fit it in to my current reading and off we go. This does look like an interesting group.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue wrote: "Thanks!! I couldn't resist the invitation. I requested the book and will probably pick it up on Monday. Then I'll fit it in to my current reading and off we go. This does look like an interesting g..."

"This does look like an interesting group."--This is just the beginning!


message 10: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments :)

Oh my! What have I gotten myself into! (hee hee)


message 11: by Deej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deej | 4 comments I finished it about 15 minutes ago. I found it to be very haunting, I think it's the kind of story I won't soon forget, though I feel it ended a bit too early.

Don't expect any clear cut answers by the end of the book - it's one that makes you think (and has made me think about a LOT of things!)

Found it hard to put it down so it's a good thing it's a short one!


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Vshadow wrote: "...I found it to be very haunting, I think it's the kind of story I won't soon forget, though I feel it ended a bit too early.

Don't expect any clear cut answers ..."


That's good to know, Vshadow. Those books are quite rare, imo!


message 13: by Deej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deej | 4 comments Asmah wrote: "Vshadow wrote: "...I found it to be very haunting, I think it's the kind of story I won't soon forget, though I feel it ended a bit too early.

Don't expect any clear cut answers ..."

That's goo..."


In fact, it's made me think so much that after my current book I might read it again!


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Vshadow wrote: "...In fact, it's made me think so much that after my current book I might read it again! ...."

That's the way I felt about Echoes of an Autobiography by نجيب محفوظ (Naguib Mahfouz).


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Having reread the first half and having taken some notes, the story is a satisfying read. The setting reflects the Nagasaki tragedy, but the time period is later. A dream causes a middle-aged, emigré Japanese woman Etsuko, to reflect on her life's events since Nagasaki's reconstruction during her London daughter Niki's week's visit to Etsuko's quieter, English suburbia. The last half undoubtedly answers many eerie questions raised by Etsuko's memories in the first half. Some reflections are about her daughter Keiko's suicide and about her Tokyo friend Sachiko and Sachiko's daughter Mariko. The author shows through the characterizations the change between the traditional duties, obligations, and mores and the modern culture and individual freedoms.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Vshadow wrote: "I finished it about 15 minutes ago. I found it to be very haunting, I think it's the kind of story I won't soon forget, though I feel it ended a bit too early.

Don't expect any clear cut answers by the end of the book - it's one that makes you think..."


Being mid-story, my recent (somewhere) post says that the end "undoubtedly" would clarify "eerie" hints. Oops! The best stories don't allow for accurate predictions :)


Pellerin Just finished today ... I think there are many complex themes in what appeared to me at first as a more simple tale; a tribute I think to Ishiguro's writing style.

Here are some thought/questions I came up with this afternoon:
- The main theme is change, more specifically loss. Obviously, the losses Etsuko has suffered (Keiko and Jiro) mirrored more graphically through Mariko's association with death (father, drowning baby/kittens). But also the loss of status - Ogata, Sachiko and Mrs Fujiwara are all referred to as being from well established families until the war changed their lives utterly.

- However, there is also hope. Children feature highly in this story (see next comment) alluding to a new generation who have the potential to leave behind their parents traumas/prejudices. This is reinforced by Matsuda's paper urging to leave behind t old establishment. In the end though, the hope can never be fully realised; Keiko and Mariko are both traumatised souls, Niki withdraws from her mother, Sachiko fainlly acknowledges her dreams of a new life in America may never happen and even when Etsuko 'escapes' Japan her life in England does not seem to be blessed with happiness.

- Motherhood: Etsuko, the mother to be, then the mother, Sachiko, the current (bad) mother, Akira and his doting mother, Mrs Fujiwara, mother of grown up children one of which is called Kazuo ... Ishuguro was also born and raised in Nagasaki until 5 so what does this say about his relationship with his mother? Jiro and Ogata provide a counterbalance but the focus is definitely on the maternal side of family.

- What is the link between Keiko and Mariko? Both are cared for by Etsuko, both suffer some kind of trauma early in their lives and finally, in the final few pages, Etsuko recalls the day-trip to Nagasaki harbour with Sachiko and says Keiko was happy that day. Does this refer to Etsuko being happy and thus transferred to her as yet unborn child (is Keiko even that child?) or is she confusing Mariko for Keiko?

So I rambled on a bit! But I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks of the book too!


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments I read through to the end, wondering whether the change in pronouns at the end of Chapter 10 was a figure of speech or a hint of misdeeds.

Am presently rereading Part 2, which made me realize the two, changing settings are the summer (when Etsuko is expecting her first child) in Nagasaki at the end of the U.S. occupation of Japan and the English country house where Etsuko's grown, second-daughter Nikki returns to visit.

In part, the novel showed the ways in which characters responded to rebuilding the area and their lives. The book's ending raises new questions rather than answering the early ones. Also there is danger always lurking but always just missed except some children and cats.

The places in Nagasaki visited by the women and children, Inasi and Peace Park, might be of further interest.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Pellerin wrote: "Just finished today ... I think there are many complex themes in what appeared to me at first as a more simple tale; a tribute I think to Ishiguro's writing style.

Here are some thought/questions ..."


The effects of change caused characters to invent new lives. For instance, Mrs. Fujiwara, the noodle-shop owner, who is noted in your post, reinvented her career to something once out-of-the-question in her earlier life. The interactions of Ogata-san and Shigei Matsuda show the traditional v. modern thinking, which your post also noted.

Thanks for bringing up Etsuko's quote, Keiko was happy that day, which I didn't catch. Etsuko's friend Sachiko and her friend's daughter Mariko seemed disoriented, unstable, and flighty, whereas Etsuko and her restructured home-life seemed steady and proper. Ishiguro doesn't fill in Jiro and Etsuko's life after Keiko's birth nor about the reason for Etsuko's departure to England.


Mikki | 89 comments Finally received my copy and am now starting chapter three. Etsuko and Sachiko have just discovered Mariko's body lying in the grass on the other side of the river. Ishiguro slowly weaves this tale though all the while there is a foreboding that things aren't right.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments I also felt those foreboding vibes, which Mikki mentioned and which characters' pauses and responses underlined as suspicious. Of course, the dreadful original premise was the stagnant wasteland from the Nagasaki atomic bomb and the rumors of child murders. In response to those communal setbacks, Mrs Fujiwara, the book's noodle-shop owner, represents the book's optimism in looking ahead; Ogata-san also speaks that future-oriented message in his chess game of knowing the next three moves and of having a strategy to avoid buckling under in defeat. Etsuko looks down from Mt. Inasa's heights above the former destruction, amazed at its peacefulness, regrowth, and rebuilding because of the citizen's staunch attitudes, displayed by Mrs Fugiwara and Ogata-san. Sachiko too directs her life upon a longtime penchant for American life and language. And, Etsuko's move to England might reflect a similar optimism to better present conditions.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Building on Pellerin's post about the novel's theme of 'change', Chapter 8 pp 146-148, set during the encounter of the former teacher Ogata and his former student Matsuda, states their generational difference.
Many things have changed now. And things are changing still. We live in a different age from those days when...when you were an influential figure.

...children in Japan were taught terrible things...they were taught not to see, not to question. And that's why the country was plunged into the most evil disaster in her entire history...
Matsuda continues, reminding Ogata about the latter's involvement in the suppression of free speech of five teachers. Ogata rebuts Matsuda's accusations, noting the technological inequality between the loser and victor and the selfless dedication to education by Dr. Endo and himself before the disaster.

Some other examples of then-now differences were: traditional filial duty versus ambitious work concerns, male-guided women versus independent women, and life without automobiles and washing machines versus with modern conveniences.

Etsuko comes across the page as content with the older ways in her relationships with Jiro and Jiro's father Ogata and in her conversation with Niki,
It's not a bad thing at all, the old Japanese way.
Etsuko's meeting with Mariko's aunt Yasuko Kawada shows that the seventy-year-old's actions and opinions illustrate the former Japan.

On the other hand, Etsuko's younger daughter Niki has adopted modern views and actions about living in society.

Sachiko is a problematic figure, demonstrating permissive child-rearing, enjoying
modern conveniences, and rejecting the limited options in her uncle's household. She recognizes that Frank might help in her reaching America but that she might be on her own or might not be there with him. The changed Japanese social environment is fostering in Sachiko the necessity to adapt to changing circumstances.


message 23: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Jun 16, 2012 12:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) At one point near the end, it says, "Memory ... Can be an unreliable thing." All of your comments about looking forward make me wonder if that is what has happened. (view spoiler)

I definitely finished this completely spun around, and enjoyed having that kind of reaction, honestly.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Jenny wrote: "...Maybe Sachiko and Etsuko *are* the same person, but the re-identification, the retelling, are an attempt to leave it behind...."

Jenny, your thought-provoking comment carries implications for reading this story. That the two women are one-in-the-same like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with a split personality explains Etsuko's comments about her going to Kobe with Mariko in Chapter 10 and, Pellerin's mentioning in Message 17, about Etsuko's saying Keiko was happy that day on the day trip to Mt Inasa even though Mariko was the present girl and Etsuko's baby unborn.

There's also Etsuko/Sachiko's two husbands Jiro and Frank. Frank and Mariko/Keiko never got along in Mariko's youth and in Keiko's adulthood. Etsuko's Jiro and Sachiko's absent first husband might also be the same character.

If the two female stories refer to one character with a split personality, then A Pale View Of Hills reflects more profoundly Ishiguro's ingenuity.


message 25: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments I've finished the book but need to write my review and read through these posts before commenting much. I don't want to be repetitious. One issue I did have with the book was the lack of transitions between story segments, when I really didn't know who was talking or what was happening from one page to the next. This seemed to ease as the book progressed.

I did get a look at note #24 above which is extremely interesting and not something I had thought of at all, though I have admitted to my confusion. Well now I'll rest my head and write my review in the morning and return to this thread and this discussion.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue wrote: "...One issue I did have with the book was the lack of transitions between story segments, when I really didn't know who was talking or what was happening from one page to the next. This seemed to ease as the book progressed...."

Sue, congratulations on finishing this novel!

The back-and-forth settings in time and place, the totally different lives and personalities of Etsuko and Sachiko, and the mystery evoked by darkness, reticence, and surprises left an unsettled, underlying feeling in which characters are not what they originally seemed.

The characters, except the American visitor and Shigeo Matsuda(?), were introduced in Part I. By Part II, the reader knew the characters and something about their circumstances.

**************

Chess and its strategies to continue the game really interested Ogata-San and generalized itself in life's struggle.


message 27: by Motheaten (last edited Jun 17, 2012 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Motheaten | 79 comments Jenny wrote: "At one point near the end, it says, "Memory ... Can be an unreliable thing." All of your comments about looking forward make me wonder if that is what has happened. [spoilers removed]

I definitely..."


That's a very insightful comment Jenny, and there may be evidence of Sachiko and Etsuko, and Mariko and Keiko, being the same persons at the end of Chapter 10, a new paragraph after the passage "As I was leaving, I glanced back towards Sachiko. I could see only her silhouette, seated before..."
After this passage, the new paragraph seemed to indicate a lapse in Etsuko's memory when she stopped seeing herself embodied in another woman (Sachiko). The conversation with Mariko on the bridge about moving to Kobe and on to America was revealing-- Jenny's comment-- "If you don't like it over there, we'll come straight back." and her insistence on Frank being "just like a new father."


Mikki | 89 comments Finished the novel and enjoyed the nonlinear form of writing immensely--kept the book suspenseful from start to finish. I am going to look over all the comments before chiming in with my thoughts.


message 29: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments I've finished my review after thinking about this book much more than I'd anticipated I would. It was on my mind when I awoke.

What I arrived at as a personal approach to the novel was the concept of displacement. The city of Nagasaki has been at least partially destroyed by war and the worst of bombs, the Japanese people have lost not only so many of their people, but they are now in the process of losing many aspects of their culture. People literally cannot find there way around in the street because of destruction and rebuilding.

The reader is also feeling displaced, left unsure because of uncertainty with the slides between past and present. I did not pick up on some of the specific instances mentioned above, the interchanging 0f names, etc. I'm not sure if that would have clarified or confused me more.

And the characters appear to feel at home nowhere. Japan is no longer home. England is a substitute. But is it a home?


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments One good outcome of the changed society was that Mrs Fujiwara was now able to fulfill herself in a new way with the noodle shop; another was that characters might now speak with more candor. Those improvements prominently stood out in the novel; whereas the lurking dangers were less pronounced.


message 31: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments Yes that's true. I found that cultural conflict very interesting, those who crave the old ways. vs those who delight in the new openness and independence, particularly for women.

I was wondering if the child killers could be seen as a metaphor for all that has happened in Nagasaki to rob the children of a normal life.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue wrote: "I was wondering if the child killers could be seen as a metaphor for all that has happened in Nagasaki to rob the children of a normal life..."

Someone spoke about Mariko's daily life being even more different than other children's lives, as she didn't regularly attend school. Those other children must also have experienced hard times and extraordinary circumstances. There was a less safe environment for children because of the social disorganization and the psychological responses caused by the atomic bomb explosion. In characters' mind, there might have been a conjoining of that disaster and those crimes, a pervasive apprehensiveness about the demise of expected civil behavior.

Mariko displayed a fear of ropes, running away from Etsuko. A rope, or rope-like device, is how Keiko died. Mariko's fleeing might have been from her own fears, picked up from the current atmosphere, rather than from Etsuko's real intentions.


message 33: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments Excellent point Asmah. I did wonder about the rope and Mariko's fear. It did seem as if Mariko had been surrounded by harsh and potentially damaging images during her childhood, the woman and the baby at the river in Tokyo, the kittens in the river in Nagasaki, being left alone amidst a tumultuous landscape in flux with strangers always around. Not a stable environment.

I do like your analysis.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue wrote: "...I do like your analysis..."

Thank you, Sue :)


message 35: by Mikki (last edited Jun 21, 2012 06:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mikki | 89 comments The format of the book (back and forth from present to past) allowed the reader to compare the stories being told and realize how they overlapped in outcome. Subtle and yet highly effective.

For me, the realization of the two woman being one occurred where there was a change of tense (from "you" to"we") when Etsuko is with Mariko on the bridge. Then it all fell into place -- the detached behavior of both women, the half-sister being bi-racial.

Ishiguro has a new fan.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Mikki wrote: "...Ishiguro has a new fan...."

Yes, "A View of Pale Hills" also whetted my reading appetite for more of Isiguro's fiction. The shocking collapsing of Etsuko's and Sachiko's identity on the bridge and, perhaps at another time, of Etsuko's referring to Keiko instead of Mariko in Etsuko's remembering the park outing to Niki at the end with the ponies were small but sufficient turns of speech to recast the entire story!

Did you see the half-sister as English/American and Japanese?


message 37: by Mikki (last edited Jun 22, 2012 04:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mikki | 89 comments Asmah wrote: "of Etsuko's referring to Keiko instead of Mariko in Etsuko's remembering the park outing to Niki at the end with the ponies were small but sufficient turns of speech to recast the entire story! ..."

Yes! There were those quick moments (like slips of the tongue) that I'd stop reading, thinking "Whaaaat??" and then quickly flip back a few pages.

In the very beginning of the story it is mentioned that "Keiko, unlike Niki, was pure Japanese" as well as another description later in the book. It came together for me when I remembered that the man Sachiko was to run away with, Frank, was English or American.

One topic that I think about is young Keiko. It seems that Frank never did actually accept her and, in fact, often compared the two girls and thought that Keiko was difficult by nature and hopeless. I imagine that her adjustment to London did not go well and that she lived her life as an outsider even within her own family. Her distance increasing as she became older.

And yet, all of the mother's choices were said to be made in the best interest of the child. We heard this time and time again.


message 38: by Betty (last edited Jun 23, 2012 07:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Mikki wrote: "...all of the mother's choices were said to be made in the best interest of the child. We heard this time and time again. ..."

Sachiko often referred to her acting in her daughter Mariko's best interest and greater opportunities in America. If Mariko's and Keiko's identities merged, Keiko's life in England brought bitter fruit rather than greater happiness. No one, otherwise, has any idea about Mariko's future.

Ishiguro did well in subtly drawing vignettes of characters and events, like the title hints at. "A Pale View of Hills" has information gaps, inconclusive happenings, and tense moments. Later events lengthened those story threads, for example with the appearances of Shigeo and Yasuko.

The confrontational, meditative, outspoken character of the traditionally minded Ogata-San lightened up the story with his calmness and resolve. He wanted to bring the unresolved issues of the chess game and the newspaper article to a finish; whereas Jiro was uncomfortable with Ogata-San's forthrightness and leisure. Shigeo was more openly honest. Both those modern younger men pursued a regimented working life. Neither gave Ogata-San the closure he asked for.

All the characters were exceedingly different from each other. That inventiveness along with the subtleness made the book enjoyable.


message 39: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments Ogata-San initially seemed a more sympathetic character to me than he did by the end. Of course as patriarch under the traditional way, it doesn't matter how irritating he is or how much he interferes. Once he began to continue harping on the return to the game, he seemed like a child who would not be appeased.

When he and Etsuko met Shigeo, Ogato-San was shocked to find someone who had acted against him knowingly and for good reason. Upset as he was. He did not have a good argument except that this wasn't done in his day, the good days of the past. Ogata-San appeared firmly cemented in the past with Jiro only a little ways ahead of him. Certaiinly. Etsuko was his servant as well as his wife and this seemed to be wearing on her.


Betty (olderthan18) | 3638 comments Sue wrote: "Ogata-San initially seemed a more sympathetic character to me than he did by the end. Of course as patriarch under the traditional way, it doesn't matter how irritating he is or how much he interfe..."

Lazy day or two, but browsed through some secondary materials about "A Pale View of Hills". The Nagasaki setting takes place during the 1950s Korean War, the English setting during about 1980.

Etsuko necessarily repressed the unpleasant past in "The Pale View of Hills":
...a narrator [Etsuko] desperately holding on to normality by refusing to face certain events back there...allowing them access would mean instantaneous mental breakdown.(Lars Ole Sauerberg's Intercultural Voices in Contemporary British Literature: The Implosion of Empire);

shocking identity of the narrator is almost entirely concealed.(John Haiman's Talk Is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation, and the Evolution of Language); and

...the comedy and the pathos and the sorrow of the stories we tell ourselves to keep other stories away.(Michael Wood's Children of Silence: On Contemporary Fiction).
Wood also questions whether Etsuko's and Sachiko's apparent identity means a literal, physical identification between the two women or a psychological, stereotypical identification in which a bad mother includes the negligent and the murderess.
Is Etsuko actually Sachiko? Is there one person here or two?...[T]his is perhaps not quite the question. The question...is how could Etsuko, in her memory and her distress not be Sachiko, and the infanticide and the child murderer? Thinking of her hanged daughter, how could she not enter the blasted landscape where not being a good mother and killing your are are the same unspeakable thing..."
After all, the English Etsuko is coping with the family disaster of Keiko's suicide in Manchester by returning in her memory to the summer in Nagasaki during her pregnancy.


Marieke | 155 comments although it's an intriguing idea, i'm not totally convinced that Sachiko and Etsuko are the same person and nor would Mariko and Keiko be the same person. my main reason for that is because throughout Etsuko's remembrance of those days with Sachiko, Etsuko was pregnant with her first child and at one point she even referred to the unborn child as Keiko.

We never really learned anything about Keiko's childhood. The only thing we learned about her is that she was deeply unhappy. I wonder if Etsuko was sifting through her memories of Sachiko and Mariko to see if she did anything wrong in her relationship with Keiko?

the Sachiko-Mariko dynamic was really troubling and disconcerting. I think, perhaps, deep inside Etsuko was criticizing Sachiko for her decisions and method of dealing with Mariko and by doing that, criticizing herself?


message 42: by Niledaughter (last edited Jul 16, 2012 04:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Niledaughter | 35 comments I finished this novel few days ago , I enjoyed reading it but I needed to digest it , that is why I failed to rate it right away .
I enjoyed reading your discussion a lot , it dropped light for me on a lot of issues .

I also felt so much that Etsuko and Sachiko are the same person and so Mariko/Keiko , I felt that strongly in the last bridge seen , when Etsuko used the "We" , and with the robe hanging from her dress and Mariko running away , yet there are a lot of issues seem like a puzzle for me so I am not sure.

what about Sachiko's uncle ? her cousin who turned to be 70 years old ?

Marieke wrote: "the Sachiko-Mariko dynamic was really troubling and disconcerting. I think, perhaps, deep inside Etsuko was criticizing Sachiko for her decisions and method of dealing with Mariko and by doing that, criticizing herself?..."

I thought about that , this could be right ? specially with Asmah's note in post (40) : " Is Etsuko actually Sachiko? Is there one person here or two?...[T]his is perhaps not quite the question. The question...is how could Etsuko, in her memory and her distress not be Sachiko"


what if Etsuko is a sick person? her younger doesn't seem happy either .she wasn't a normal mother for neither of the girls . and she refuse to realy discuss any thing related to the past .


Mikki | 89 comments Marieke wrote: "the Sachiko-Mariko dynamic was really troubling and disconcerting. I think, perhaps, deep inside Etsuko was criticizing Sachiko for her decisions and method of dealing with Mariko and by doing that, criticizing herself? "

Very true and as a reader you wonder why Etsuko wouldn't have taken a more aggressive stand against the neglect that Mariko was faced with. Was it the culture? The times/era?

For me, the moment on the bridge pretty much sealed my thoughts on things, HOWEVER, I've never been 100% and plan to read it again before finally writing a review. Great for a discussion though!


message 44: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments I will have to read it again someday to look for those clues and see what they say to me.


Marieke | 155 comments it IS great for discussion!

i need to reread parts or all as well.

Here is what i experienced while i was reading: early on, i wondered are these two women the same person? but then as i read, i convinced myself they are two separate people. but THEN, like yourselves, the "we" on the bridge, the rope, "Keiko was happy," also threw me off.

SOOOOO if i'm going to join in with this theory, the way it would make sense to me would be if Sachiko and Mariko were an older version of Estuko and Keiko and by sifting through the memory of the time she prepared to leave Japan, Etsuko tried to go back to prevent mistakes...maybe? am i making any sense?

Nile Daughter, i felt *constantly* frustrated with Sachiko and how she interacted with her daughter. But i also don't know if any of that attitude and behavior was related to the time and/or culture.


message 46: by Sue (last edited Jul 16, 2012 05:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments I also thought that Sachiko was a terrible mother and then wondered if there was something also wrong with Mariko that caused her mother not to care for her. I also wondered why Etsuko said nothing but did attribute that to cultural factors and the time. In the end, I really didn't think the Sachiko cared about Mariko at all.

If Sachiko and Etsuko are the same person, it's sad to see Etsuko become this hard person who seems to place her hopes in the wrong places. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised that Etsuko would leave her husband.


Mikki | 89 comments Marieke wrote: "SOOOOO if i'm going to join in with this theory, the way it would make sense to me would be if Sachiko and Mariko were an older version of Estuko and Keiko and by sifting through the memory of the time she prepared to leave Japan, Etsuko tried to go back to prevent mistakes...maybe? am i making any sense?.."

Yes, you're making sense, but remember that at times we are reading Etsuko's thoughts on the past so Is she then looking back on her own actions? Also, she leaves Japan and has a bi-racial child who her husband never accepts and Sachiko was having an affair with a Brit or American. Keiko/Mariko same child?


Marieke | 155 comments Maybe her reflections on the time with Sachiko is her attempt to recognize "warnings," like a kind of foreshadowing (which she did mention at least once, but i can't remember when). did someone already say something like that? sorry if i'm repeating ideas!


message 49: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 306 comments I must have missed where her husband didn't accept the child. I really need to re-read this book. Though not immediately.


Mikki | 89 comments Sue wrote: "I must have missed where her husband didn't accept the child. I really need to re-read this book. Though not immediately."

Sue, it's like three lines toward the end and easy to miss. He compared the two girls endlessly and Keiko unfavorably -- difficult, moody, etc.


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