Hello everyone, welcome to today’s book-is video. The topic for today is memories and life transitions. I have three book recommendations by Kazuo Ishiguro; The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun. I listened to these three books on Audible, and they made me think about the human heart, and about how life is unpredictable yet the only thing you can rely on is that change will happen. Nothing ever stays the same, and that’s why our memories are so important; we hold on to the things that are no longer here in our minds.
The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun have interesting settings; the first is set in rural England 1956, the second a dystopian version of the 1990s and the last a science fiction dystopian future. All three book are similar in the way they are about looking back on life and retelling the story of how the characters ended up to where they are at present. While the characters share their story, they highlight and acknowledge events that seemed insignificant at the time, but actually made a huge impact on the course of their life. Feelings that were never realised or locked away surface and this vulnerability makes the story relatable.
First let me share my thoughts on The Remains of the Day.
“After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”
Stevens is a butler who goes on his very first holiday, all his life this man has worked and never properly taken a day off. This is a big moment for him and during his journey he explores what it means to be a good butler while bringing back memories of his time at Darlington Hall. The thing that stood out to me about the character Stevens is that he was very efficient and likes to perform at a high standard with his work, yet when it came to human interaction he was oblivious to the details in the way people behaved and the emotions behind the actions. During his time at Darlington Hall he prioritised being a good butler. His strength was producing results, and his weakness was acknowledging his human heart. So that when he looks back on his past during his road trip, he said things on the lines of ‘I see now that I should have done that or not said that’.
Stevens was not able to maintain social relationships, laughing and relaxing were foreign to him. He shrugged with understating banter, and he was the type to plan out jokes thinking it was something he had to learn which was kind of sad. Stevens only made this attempt due to the fact his new American employer was trying to be friendly with him, and his response to this was to learn about banter because he believed it will make him a better butler. Banter to him was not to create an authentic rapport, it was work. Stevens was also the type to miss out on love, Miss Kenton really did her best to get that man to notice her but the signals went straight through him. Stevens could have just been an awkward turtle, but I think he was like that because of the influence around him and because he never relaxed. This trip he takes exploring a small part of England seeing beautiful country views is the first time he realises that there is life outside of Darlington Hall.
Now the next book Never Let Me Go is my favourites out of the three.
“The problem, as I see it, is that you’ve been told and not told. You’ve been told, but none of you really understand, and I dare say, some people are quite happy to leave it that way.”
The best way to enjoy this book is to go into it knowing as little as possible. The blurb gives absolutely nothing away, so don’t read any reviews that will spoil the experience.
All I am going to say is that Kathy H is in her Thirties and is about to go through a life transitional moment. She has been a carer for twelves looking after donors and she is about to end that period of her life. This is what triggers the reminiscing, the facts that she is moving onto the next stage. Throughout the novel she talks about her time at Hailsham the boarding school she attended in England and how that shaped her life. Kathy H shares her school experience, so it very much feels like a coming of age story; exploring friendships, romance, secrets and ambitions.
I really enjoy the narration style; the matter of fact way in which Kathy H speaks. Though it is clear she misses her time at Hailsham and is feeling nostalgic, her tone does not become emotional. Also when she speaks she highlights that’s ‘she cannot be sure if this is how it really happened’. It is a very mature approach to know that time has pasted so things can be forgotten and also altered. Another thing about her narrative is that she is not critical on herself and those she speaks about. When we look back on the past we are able to see things from the filter of the present. It is so easy to judge and be harsh on ourselves because we see things from the perspective of knowing the outcome. Yet when she is retelling the story it is very neutral without bias or regret. Even though “Time is gone and it is too late” and she wonders “What was it all for”. It is not a story about wanting to change her memories. It is simply nostalgia for a moment she cherishes that is gone, so she is keeping it alive through remembering.
Finally, for the robot enthusiasts there is the third book Klara and the Sun.
“Until recently, I didn’t think that humans could choose loneliness. That there were sometimes forces more powerful than the wish to avoid loneliness.”
Klara is an Artificial Friend who was created to accompany children. When she meets Josie at the shop window there is an instant connection; Josie choses her and Klara accepted. Even though Klara was warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans, she believed Josie when they made a promise to go see the view of the Sun together. This was not normally and set the tone for how their story would go. The book explores the human heart, whether it something that makes each individual special or if it is something that can be learned. Through the observant eyes of Klara we are made to think what does it mean to love and when should we give up on hope? We watch the complex relationship between Josie and her mother because of the illness. The decision to have her genetics enhanced caused her to become ill, so the risk to give Josie an advantage actually has damaged her health. And so this made me think, what do you do when you make a right choice but it leads to heartbreak?
Overtime Klara kept surprising me with her actions and personal will. It was interesting that a robot who is meant to be incapable of feelings and emotions, acts in the way that Klara does. There is her naive belief in the Sun, thinking it capable of doing things that a human would laugh at; yet she is so determined and ambitions willing to do drastic things for the sake of improving Josie’s health.
The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun were truly amazing books, because they show the fragility of life. There is this quote “The Days Are Long, but the Years Are Short”. And it is about how life can seem slow, especially during mundane routines or a challenging times. Yet one day you will look back and realise you’ve grown older and that stage of your life has passed. You will also notice that you have forgotten some of the things you kept dreading and wishing away because it really wasn’t that important. Or you will remember moments that you loved so much and hoped would last forever but it’s gone.
The beautiful thing about life is that it only happens once, and so these books have really made me become intentional about being present in my life and embracing opportunities. I am not going to seek out a perfect formula for life and try to make sure I never feel hurt again; because even when you try to do everything right sometimes it just won’t go as planned like with Klara and the Sun. And I don’t want to have an identity crisis and have a life full of regret like Stevens from The Remains of the Day. I have started journaling again to help me remember my time here, how I was feeling in the moment good and bad I want to document it. My life will change because nothing ever stays the same and growth is a good thing; so I don’t need to be scared to let go of things that are not meant for my new seasons. My memories are precious, the moments that I cherish can live on forever in my mind.
We have come to the end of this book-ish video. I highly recommend you get a Kazuo Ishiguro book, they are life changing. I am so happy to have experienced these books on Audible. If you are interested, sign up for a 30days trial and get one book for free. I have linked my books down below; let me know in the comments if you have read them or have anything else to add about some of the points I mentioned. Thank you so much for watching this video. If you enjoyed this video remember to like, comment, subscribe and ring the notification bell so you know when I post. Byeeeee