When We Were Orphans

When We Were Orphans

Book - 2000
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England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents in Old Shanghai when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by doing so will the world be saved from the approaching catastrophe.
Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is a story of remembrance, deception and the longing for home; of a childhood vision of the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and distorting a person's life.
Publisher: Toronto : A. A. Knopf Canada, c2000.
ISBN: 9780676973051
0676973051
Characteristics: 313 pages ;,22 cm.

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This seemingly straight-forward detective novel turns out to be an introspective look at imagination, memory, and how the mental and emotional landscape of childhood seeps into the present.

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laphampeak
Feb 09, 2018

A very British narration with the main character Christopher Banks whose instrospection and reflection describe the intent of Ishiguro's story. Thus said, "I suppose it was, at least in part, my attempt as an adult to grasp the nature of those forces which as a child I could not have had the chance of comprehending. It was also my intention to prepare my ground for the day I began in earnest my investigations into the whole affair concerning my parents...." The writer takes us from country to country and past to present in a way that, although choppy at times, leads us to an interesting end.

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sailjenk
Jun 12, 2017

Remains of the Day was good, the film better.
His other books I found hugely disappointing.

1
1aa
Aug 04, 2016

A awkward book about an awkward man and some key elements of his life. About two thirds of the book is slow, sensitive, and highly introspective, and the last third is odd: suspenseful and the naivety of Banks is crystal clear. The penultimate paragraph is truly great, it could have been written by Willa Cather.

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LoganLib_Central
Nov 26, 2015

Selected for the Logan Central Monday Book Club in 2016. For a full list of 2016 selections, see the Logan Central Monday Book Club list.

4
47bullseye
Apr 26, 2015

Thru Chap 8

theorbys Jan 30, 2015

Revisiting many of the themes of Unconsoled, and despite his obvious writing skills, this novel falls flat. I thought Unconsoled was a good 200 pages too long, and that this novel, 200 pages shorter than the Unconsoled, might be just right. But sadly it's a good 100 pages too long.

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vcc
Apr 14, 2014

Another masterpiece from Ishiguro. This time his main character is Christopher Banks, a Shanghai-born man of British desendant, who fashions himself as a Sherlock Holmes to rescue his long-disappeared parents and save the world from war. Banks is the epitome of British colonialism during the opium wars in China, his selective or distorted memory aiding in his denial of the facts.

Reviewed: 12 November 2006

Don27 Sep 01, 2013

A gripping, perceptive wonderful story. Ishiguro takes us seamlessly from Shanghai to England and back again. I felt for the narrator. Ishiguro has an interesting writing style. He keeps us away a little, but that works here. A rewarding read.

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lgrst4
Jul 16, 2012

This was a bookclub read that just didn't hook me. The narrator was unreliable and that was frustrating!

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sky123
Mar 27, 2016

I have become increasingly preoccupied with my memories, a preoccupation encouraged by the discovery that these memories - of my childhood, of my parents - have lately begun to blur. A number of times recently I have found myself struggling to recall something that only two or three years ago I believed was ingrained in my mind forever. I have been obliged to accept, in other words, that with each passing year, my life in Shanghai will grow less distinct, until one day all that will remain will be a few muddled images. p.70

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LazyNeko
Feb 12, 2012

"...And those of us whose duty it is to combat evil, we are... how might I put it? We're like the twine that holds together the slats of a wooden blind. Should we fail to hold strong, then everything will scatter..."

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