In most books, the world is opened up via the characters, they know more than the reader and gradually reveal it. The power of Remains Of The Day and NLMG lies in the fact that you know more than the characters, and the world you know is gradually revealed to them.
In the case of ROTD, the distance the characters have to travel is historical, and with NLMG the barrier that the characters face is institutional.
I know it couldn't be like that, but I wanted the protagonists to recognize and overcome their abuse. The fact that they didn't is scarily realistic. The question that this book shouts to me is, 'are we being abused in some way without properly recognizing it?'