The unnamed elderly narrator of King’s latest novel responds more warmly to animals than to people. Trying to cope with losing his peripheral sight following a stroke, he sees visions of his dead cat Smoky and remembers his tender care for her. Fifty years earlier, in Japan, he lavished similar affection on a rescued puppy. Somehow his feelings for people close to him – his wife Laura, his sons, his faithful assistant Miss Morita – seem more awkward and ill-expressed. Now, as he lies in a London hospital, his time as a research student in Sixties Kyoto rises in his memory, prompted in Proustian fashion by his favourite scent, ‘Pour Un Homme’, which Laura has brought to his bedside. At last he is granted the opportunity to re-evaluate the traumatic events of that hot summer long ago.
In With My Little Eye Francis King, now in his eighty-fifth year, revisits themes from his fictional heartland – the interaction of races and cultures, the problems facing expatriates – in this case drawing on his own experiences working for the British Council in Japan. Like his protagonist, King was