In the post-Arthurian England, something strange happens. People are living in villages quite peacefully but no one can remember anything. Mass amnesia, let's put it that way. Sure, their immediate memories are there and they can recall what happened yesterday or maybe the very morning but that's about it. What happened in the last month? or last year? And what about those fond memories of one's childhood? Naught but vague recollections plague the minds.
An elderly couple named Axl and Beatrice respectively has lost their memories as well. It's not exactly like losing memories—rather like something was barring them from remembering. However, they somewhat remember once they had a son. He lives a few villages over. The directions are a bit hazy.
Why was their son not with them?—they wonder. Why doesn't he come and take care of his elderly parents? Was there any bad blood among them?
One day the couple decides to go on a journey to find their son with the intention to live with him. Surely the man has to take in his own parents.
On the road, the couple comes across many strangers and mythic objects. There's a Knight, pledged to Arthur himself, roaming the kingdom in order to slay a dragon. A fighter with a young steward.
Ferrymen who tell stories of couples they ferried to a faraway island where they live on for eternity. Mostly alone. They cannot find their partners no matter how hard they try. On some rare occasions, the couples are permitted to be together. But they must prove their impeccable love for each other first.
When I was looking through fantasy books that are written by literary figures, I came across this one. Ishiguro won a Nobel prize in literature and I've never read anything by him. So I thought, hmm, why not! 🤔
Turned out the book was quite hard to get into. The prose is fine enough. Poetic sometimes. It has a saddened aura, an eerie vibe. It is considered fantasy but the style more appropriately can be dubbed as magical realism. One of my favorite genres!
Of course, the book is an allegory. My personal take was—Ishiguro wanted to portray the history of humanity and how we always forget what it teaches us. Later I found that Ishiguro wanted to portray how we try to cope with losses by forgetting. Well, what can I say, the author is the authority here. 😀
But I can talk about a certain philosophical angle that was astoundingly well done in the book.
The couple at one time fears that if their memories come back, they might find something anent each other they might not like.
I've pondered upon this. What if someone very evil could forget some of the stuff they've done. Bad choices they made. Would simply forgetting make them a better person? A happy person?
Maybe. Maybe not.
If I had the choice, would I choose to remember the things I've done? Actually, yes. Because I wouldn't know what I've done and I would want to know. When you remember, you want to forget. When you don't, you want to remember. Such a paradox!
I loved how the elderly man was always calling his wife as 'princess'. Through the ENTIRE BOOK. Some people obviously didn't like that. I thought it was sweet. Overdone, but sweet nonetheless. Their relationship is well built as well.
Not exactly a fan of this book. I have mixed feelings. It's generally positive. If you're into medieval Arthurian tales with some magical elements, by all means, happy reading.
As always, thanks for reading. 🙂