As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.
And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now. (x)
Just a few days ago, I finished “Never Let Me Go” by Ishiguro Kazuo. (Or Kazuo Ishiguro; I’m not sure, because I have a couple different sources telling me different things? I’m not familiar with the Japanese naming convention, sorry!) A friend recommended it to me with the highest praises, telling me (and I quote) it would “rip my heart out of my chest and beat it into the ground with a baseball bat.”
Never Let Me Go was, simply, a beautiful book. It’s easy to read; honestly, this review is going to be only a few sentences long as I’m still unable to find the words to describe what it was like reading this book. The entire time I was reading, I felt like I was at Hailsham, looking out into the fields and walking with the characters as they gossiped amongst themselves. If I could describe Never Let Me Go in a feeling or thought, it would be tucked up in your blankets, by yourself, watching it rain outside your window.
All I can say thus far is that the ending, while painful, was honestly the only way the book could end, and epitomized the tone of the entire story – nostalgic and a little sad and a little beautiful.
It’s been ages since I’ve posted – sorry about that! I’d like to say that I have some illustrious story about why I haven’t written a word for about a month, but honestly, all I’ve been doing is tweeting to CW stars and crying over books. Most recently (as in, over the past few days), I’ve read three books (or most of them, anyway) and they are as follows – “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch, “Defiance” by CJ Redwine, and “Dreams of Gods and Monsters” by Laini Taylor. And here’s a brief run-down slash mini review of each.
A few days ago, I finished All Quiet.
I have a lot of thoughts about the ending, obviously; ranging from “oh my god my poor baby Paul and oh god Kat” to “you know, that was a pretty solid ending” to “WHAT KIND OF AN ENDING IS THAT?? I NEED A RE-WRITE WHERE EVERYONE IS HAPPY AND NO ONE DIES.” If I have time I’ll go through the parts I liked, the parts I didn’t like, etc. But in particular, today I wanted to write about this idea that stuck with me.
Paul and his companions are, evidently, not considered actual people, really. From Kantorek, they are simply young, impressionable minds to be influenced and sent to the front lines as essentially fodder. From Himmelstoss, they are nothing. From civilian society, they are war heroes, deeds, the epitome of romanticized war instead of the living repercussions of such brutality. From no sides are they thought of as actual, individual people with individual fears and dreams and desires – rather, they’re lumped in with those near to them in age or rank, and treated all the same.
It reminds me of this letter I read yesterday.
In English class we recently started “All Quiet On The Western Front” by Erich Marie Remarque, proclaimed by the cover as ‘the greatest war novel of all time.’ The book follows the story of the Second Company through the experiences of a young student named Paul Baumer and his companions as they struggle to come to terms with how deeply the war has affected them and shaken everything they had thought to be true before enlisting in the army. And – I’ll admit – it’s a pretty great book, even if you’re not a fan of war novels.
Confession: I am not actually done with Lolita, but I’ve progressed relatively far into the book during my English class’s brain fuel sessions – and from previous friends and acquaintances’ input and my own Internet sleuthing (my greatest weakness is my habitual Wikipedia-trolling in the moments where I should be doing anything but), I am already aware of how the book ends. However, I haven’t included any specifics, so for anyone who is planning to read the book and doesn’t want spoilers, it should be fairly safe.
For weeks, A Tale Of Two Cities has been a constant in my backpack, my English class, and my subconscious. The novel had become a huge part of my academic life – most notoriously, the night before my English test where I stayed up until midnight to go over and do notes until my hands were cramping. Dickens’ complicated 1800’s language and obscure Greek metaphors plagued my mind. Now, our journey is over.
And, predictably, I have a few thoughts.
In the first book of ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ there is this highly speculated, reoccurring theme/phrase of being ‘recalled to life.’ As we learn later on in the book, being ‘recalled to life’ is something of an extended metaphor that applies to Mr. Lorry and Lucie Manette’s freeing of Dr. Manette (Lucie’s estranged father) from a life of solitude after years of separation and some traumatizing jail time on Dr. Manette’s part.
Anyhow, it got me thinking – especially as throughout the first book, Lorry is contemplating the possible results and outcomes of his ‘recalling’ Manette to life. He thinks up potential conversations with Manette, asking him how long he had been ‘buried alive’ (hence the extended metaphor, what with being ‘recalled to life’), if he wanted to see ‘her’ (Lucie), et cetera. There’s this part that really got to me; the fact that Lorry isn’t sure – both before and even after he actually goes through with recalling Manette to life – that freeing Manette is even a good idea; if Manette even wants to be recalled.
Sometimes there are books that are 400 pages long but feel like 800 (ahem, “Katherines”), and sometimes there are books that are 400 that you wish were 800 pages long. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern falls solidly into the latter category. Onto the cut-link to read more of my incoherent rambling over my latest, favorite brain-fuel book.
And now, for my daily meltdown over Antigone.
So I may have exaggerated slightly in my last post. Oedipus didn’t turn out as mind-numbingly boring as I’d originally thought – although I suppose Oedipus really was that boring. It was really Antigone that I enjoyed out of the three books/plays/whatever by Sophocles, and, against all odds I found myself actually enjoying Antigone.