But this time his wife seemed reluctant to let him go. She grasped his arm, as though momentarily to steady herself, then let her head rest on his chest. As though by it’s own instinct, his hand rose to caress her hair, grown tangled in the wind, and when he glanced down at her he was surprised to see her eyes still wide open.
‘You’re in a strange mood, right enough,’ he said. ‘What did that stranger say to you?’
She kept her head on his chest for a moment longer. Then she straightened and let go of him. ‘Now I think of it Axl, there may be something in what you’re always saying. It’s queer the way the world’s forgetting people and things from only yesterday and the day before that. Like a sickness come over us all.’
whoah calm down now, there are spoilers in this, just so you know..
I loved this book, a beautiful tale that you drift through like a boat on a slow moving river, and, what I loved most was the ending, Did the boatman take Axl?
I don’t think he did. Then I wonder if that’s a reflection on me rather than the book. I felt that Axl had remembered more than his wife, or had knew more than he had told her and for that reason would not be joining her, and as much as that made me sad, from the story itself it didn’t feel completely wrong.
But that is the end, and the end is no place to start. Set in England after the Romans have left, a mist settles across the country and people are forgetful of the past. A small cast of characters are bound up tightly in not only their own destiny, but that of the entire country. Pulling in old tales, myths, legends and pastoral living, this is a tale ultimately about love, and memory. Axl and Beatrice leave their communal home to go searching for their long lost son. They meet and fall in with a Saxon warrior and Sir Gawain, of Arthurian legend. Slowly, as Ishiguro gently pulls the reader along, and the source of the all pervading mist is revealed, the quest of all the characters is intertwined as Axl and Beatrice’s memories start to bubble to the surface.
At points the reader knows more than Axl does, and Ishiguro handles this wonderfully. Even as Axl sees things and remembers instincts forgotten, they flow naturally into his consciousness, without revelation but instead like the flow of a stream gently merging into the river of his memory and he starts to fear what will happen if the small band succeeds in it’s efforts to put an end to the mist covering the land.
Thinking back, The Buried Giant feels like a Sunday afternoon movie, an enjoyable indulgence that contains a nip at the end, but which enhances the memory of it more than sours the pleasure of reading it. The prose and style is simple and engaging, and Ishiguro seamlessly mixes the magic with the mundane throughout, and makes it all seem perfectly normal.
By the end you know what you want to happen, and what you think should happen, but Ishiguro leaves you at the threshold and shuts the door, you’ll need to make you’re own mind up.
Wistan smiled. ‘I believe, sir, it’s this very gift to withstand strange spells won me this errand from my king. For in the fens, we’ve never known a creature quite like this Querig, yet have known others with wonderful powers, and it was noticed how little I was swayed, even as my comrades swooned and wandered in dreams. I fancy this was my king’s only reason to choose me, for almost all my comrades at home are better warriors than this one walks beside you now’
‘Impossible to believe, Master Wistan! Both report and observation tell of your extraordinary qualities.’