From the author of Never Let Me Go and Remains of the day, Nocturnes is a collection of short stories centered around themes of music, the passing of time and love.
The five stories, in order are Crooner, Come Rain or Come Shine, Malvern Hills, Nocturne and Cellists, and the cycle of stories takes you around the world and visiting an array of characters, the majority of whom are musicians as well as those with an intimate connection with music.
'Crooner' is the story of a guitarist in the piazzas of Italy who one day meets his mother's favourite ageing musician Tony Gardner, who asks him to help him serenade his wife; 'Come Rain or Shine' catches one man as he visits his two college friends in slowly failing marriage; 'Malvern Hills' takes another musician living in his sister's cafe in between jobs and meets a couple who loves his music; a talented Sax player is the narrator of 'Nocturnes', he divorces his wife and decides to take plastic surgery and meets a famous actress whilst in recovery; and finally 'Cellists', back in the piazzas of Italy again, a young cellist meets a woman who claims to be a cello maestro who will help him improve his craft.
So what’s my verdict?
I'm used to song cycles with musical theatre but story cycles are something very new to me, and I struggled getting into the stories at first. Ishiguro's style for me was hard enough to read when I started Never Let Me Go, but with a full length novel you have enough chapters to help establish this style as you read on. With short stories, I left each novel feeling a little unfulfilled but as I went through each story and saw the themes develop I actually found myself enjoying the last few stories.
There's a melancholy to each story of loss and turbulent nature of love, and though you would expect music to play a prominent part in the stories - especially as this is the main draw of the blurb - it settles as a background character that flows quietly throughout the novel.
I do think this would be love/hate novel and my mind isn't made up yet as to whether I actually enjoyed reading this yet. It's a grower and, as I read each story in broken succession, I feel like this deserves a full on re-read to take in the full flow of the cycle.
Everything Has Changed: Taylor Swift ft Ed Sheeran; Let Her Go: Passenger; Lean: Oh Land; All We Are: OneRepublic; Summer Is Over: Jon MacLaughlin ft Sara Barielles; Animal II: Charlene Kaye;
For lovers of…dreamy stories rooted in real life and Ishiguro's other work
This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Ria, get to know more about her here!