All great love stories must end in tragedy. I’m not sure where this thought originated but Shakespeare definitely drove the point home in Romeo and Juliet. “For never was a story of more woe. Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Tragedy can make even the most ordinary love stories into epic ones. I think it’s the counterbalance of the idea that love is forever with the idea that life is fleeting. Never Let Me Go is definitely one of these tragic love stories.
The novel begins in the present with Cathy looking back on her life at the boarding school Halisham in England. She presents her memories, from her point of view, on her life and what shaped it. In the present, Cathy is known as a carer, a person who works in hospitals helping donors through their donation periods. But she spends a good portion of the time thinking about Halisham and her friendships with Ruth and Tommy.
The story takes awhile to get going and you do have to slog through a bit of the beginning but it’s worth it. The further you get into the story the more you realize how important the beginning is to set up the events that will unfold. The beginning is almost the ending in a way. It holds the key to the story that you don’t get to unlock until the end. It fills in the missing pieces so that you can see the big picture. And the big picture is terrifying. The author poses so many questions about science and humanity. Whether it’s better to have known something bad all along or only find out in the end. And the negative effects of scientific discovery.
The whole story becomes a lot more foreboding once you realize exactly what’s happening. Especially in contrast to the beautiful love story that begins to form. Again, it takes some time for the love triangle to truly show itself. There’s a lot of backstory to the triangle and the relationships between the three people, Ruth, Tommy, and Cathy. Tommy and Cathy have always had a special kind of relationship where they feel free to talk about whatever is troubling them. Yet, Tommy begins to date Ruth, a beautiful and manipulative person. Ruth represents the basis of Halisham for me. How people have come to form a facade of the real world that the kids take to heart. They then begin to form their own facades and backstories, especially Ruth.
The whole time I was really rooting for Cathy and Tommy. They just seem destined to be together. But Ruth stands in the way for a good portion of the novel. Yet, the caveat is true here. All good love stories must end in tragedy of some kind. And this one does. Perhaps a bit more tragic than most. Every outside force has come against them from birth. The love was doomed from the get go and perhaps that’s why it’s so touching. The greatest loves often involve the greatest sacrifices.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!
Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel with a love triangle. I had a really hard time trying to find one that interested me and was a bit different than what I normally read. I love that this challenge has really pushed my out of my reading comfort zone to try things I would never have picked up before. I’ve found out like I like science fiction and fantasy more than I used to think I did, I’m reading more classic novels, and I’m browsing sections of the library I’ve never been down. If nothing else, this Book Battle has been thoroughly enlightening and it’s been amazing to share it with all of you.
But, I digress. Back to the book. The novel I chose is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book centers on Tommy, Ruth, and Cathy as they go through Halisham, a private school in the English countryside. From the back cover, it sounds like this is going to be a coming of age story with a twist. I’ve heard that the twist is very good and I can’t wait to find out what it is. Many list the book as a science fiction/fantasy so I’m thinking the twist might have something to do with that. Apparently there’s also a movie with Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, and Carey Mulligan. That is going to have to happen after I read this novel! How I wish Blockbuster was still a thing. Now we rely on Redbox and Netflix which just don’t have everything you want to watch.
Stay tuned for the review of Never Let Me Go. Happy reading!
The Secret Place is the fifth book in Tana French’s murder squad series and let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint. Following young Stephen Moran, who last made an appearance in Faithful Place and is now working cold cases, the novel starts off with a seemingly innocent picture on an index card found by Holly Mackey on a board her school calls The Secret Place. Wanting to move on from cold cases and into the murder squad, Stephen takes the card of Chris Harper, murdered on the grounds between St. Kilda’s and Colm’s, both boarding schools, to Antoinette Conway. Conway has made herself into an almost larger than life ballbuster to survive and thrive in the male dominated murder squad.
Pairing up, both for their own reasons, the two set out card in hand to delve into the lives of teenage boarding school girls, and it’s terrifying. This is mean girls gone bad. Being removed from the outside world, these girls are secluded and totally reliant on each other creating an it’s them against the world mentality. Masterfully, Tana French reveals the layers and layers of vulnerability, cruelty self-preservation, loyalty, and burgeoning sexuality that in this school is akin to a social currency.
There are four girls at the heart of the mystery of who killed Chris Harper and watching them ebb and sway together, like swallows in the sky trying to stay together but ultimately breaking apart, is breathtaking. This book is so much more than a mystery/thriller. In it’s own way it’s a coming of age novel. It’s about becoming aware that everything in life is fleeting. Nothing, no matter how hard you try to hold onto it in your clenched fists, will remain static forever.
The most poignant moment in the novel for me is when Holly’s mother comes home after meeting an old friend from her St.Kilda days and describes how they haven’t been in contact for years no matter how close they were and is not sure after this meeting if they should be in contact. Their lives have taken such different paths and the only thing that connects them is their past. Holly sees, in one moment of true clarity, how everything will change. The four friends will separate because they are all individuals and not the unit they have been for so long. And perhaps it’s this moment that is the real catalyst of the book, creating the desire to throw the card of Chris Harper into the mix.
Final rating: 4.5/5
Stay tuned for the next book in Book Battle 2015!