This is the first Izhiguro novel that I have read, so I approached it with an open mind and well, where do I start.
The basis of the story, which is set in an England after the death of King Arthur, is that of an elderly rural couple who decide to go on a quest to visit their son after years of not seeing him, but it becomes evident that there is something that is affecting memories, because they can’t really remember him, or indeed, why he left. They blame the ‘mist’ for removing their memories, but it becomes evident that the ‘mist’ has removed memories to bring peace to the land.
The style of the novel is reminiscent of the fairy tales of my childhood and just like them, there are dragons and quests, knights and ogres. And as for the buried giant…
For me, and I am sure that everyone who reads this book will have their own ideas – this is about the fear of forgetting, about reaching the end of a life and being unable to remember the good times – and the bad – that have filled the years; of reaching the end of the path and being unable to remember the journey. However, the idea of the ‘mist’ – this strange spell that has removed all memories of war and wrongs so that peace reigns – isn’t that where we are now? The last soldiers that fought in WW1 are now no more – soon memories of WW2 will fade – in fact, some children today have no real knowledge of the sacrifices that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers made. Is Izhiguro making a comment here about how we have forgotten war and the buried giant is now re-awakening.
There is also the story of Axl and Beatrice, the old couple – this is their story, the story of a marriage and secrets which have been buried and forgotten. But ultimately the story of an enduring love. Beautiful and heart-breaking.
This is a fable with so many layers – on the surface a modern fairy-tale but look underneath and you will find quests that challenge your thoughts.