A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale, that imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that has landed in his backyard.
George Duncan is an American living and working in London. At 48, he owns a small print shop, is divorced, and lonelier than he realizes. All of the women with whom he has relationships eventually leave him for being too nice. But one night he is woken by an astonishing sound - a terrific keening, which is coming from somewhere in his garden. When he investigates he finds a great white crane, a bird taller than even himself. It has been shot through the wing with an arrow. Moved more than he can say, George struggles to take out the arrow from the bird's wing, saving its life before it flies away into the night sky.
The next morning, a shaken George tries to go about his daily life, retreating to the back of his store and making cuttings from discarded books - a harmless, personal hobby - when through the front door of the shop a woman walks in. Her name is Kumiko, and she asks George to help her with her own artwork. George is dumbstruck by her beauty and her enigmatic nature, and begins to fall desperately in love with her. She seems to hold the potential to change his entire life, if he could only get her to reveal the secret of who she is and why she has brought her artwork to him.
Witty, magical, and romantic, The Crane Wife is a story of passion and sacrifice, that resonates on the level of dream and myth. It is a novel that celebrates the creative imagination, and the disruptive power of love.
©2014 Patrick Ness (P)2014 Penguin Audio
"Ness fashions his mosaic of prose, piecing narrative with snips of a myth-like fable to create a bittersweet story of loss and love. The narrative pace will keep the pages turning, while the imagery and metaphors wound throughout will stay with readers long after they close the book." (Library Journal)
"The Crane Wife is a special novel: a perfect fusion of surreal imagery and beautifully crafted internal logic." (The Telegraph)
Absolutely, it was such a pleasure. I am going to save it for a time when I could use something to lift my spirits and open my mind to possibility
The realization that the Crane was having such an amazing positive effect on the family, that she was a Goddess in human form.
The scene in the very beginning when he is holding the Crane and she wraps her neck around his upper body. I see that in my mind's eye whenever I think of the book. It totally drew me into the book. The writer was so capable of placing you in the situations in the book by his brilliant descriptions. I can see many of the scenes in full color in my head.
Both!! I'm having trouble writing this review because I don't want to ruin the book for anyone reading these reviews, and at the same time I want to encourage people to experience the book. I wish there was another star, or maybe I should go back and readjust all of my ratings to reflect the true feelings I have about this and a couple of other books I have read recently like "The Invention of Wings", "The Book of Tea" and "MiddleMarch".
I wish there was a way for us to identify in advance the books like this so I could buy them all. The pleasure of this book was astounding. I have told all of my friends about it. When it is said that "other books are similar" it isn't really true. I guess I should fine someone with similar taste and follow their suggestions.
The Crane Wife is a story about George and his daughter Amanda. One night, George discovers a wounded crane in his yard that he nurses back to health. Later, he meets a mysterious woman named Kumiko, who wants his help with some artwork she is making. Eventually they fall in love and agree to be married. But Kumiko harbors a number of secrets and is more than she seems.
There are a few story lines interweaved: George, Amanda, George and Kumiko, and the Crane and Volcano.
Having read most of Patrick Ness' novels and enjoying them, I wanted to give this one a try. I listened to the audible version. The narrator did a fine job, although this is probably one of the most down-keyed depressing narrators I've ever heard, but it fit with the tone of the novel.
The writing itself was fairly well executed in as far as it was very poetic and fluid. But...it often went on way too long and thus the pacing was just glacial. There isn't a whole lot of action in this novel. It is mostly about the characters feelings and conversations. And then there is this whole mystical story line about the crane and the volcano, a couple apparently eternal who are outside time, but whose story doesn't always make much sense, and who seem to be unable to carry on a natural conversation with each other. Anytime one answered the other, the answer was always self-contradictory (yes and no). This mythology would have been interesting to me, but it answered nothing and didn't always make any sense at all. And not only was the plot just too slow in places, but there were parts put in that were baffling. The book opens with an extended description of George peeing, there are several places where Amanda is peeing and hears noises outside (nothing becomes of that), a whole subplot about Amanda being pregnant that goes nowhere, and an extended chapter exploring a ton of different ways a house fire could have started (just pick one already). Also it had a very nice logical ending place, and then continued on for chapter after chapter.
Character-wise, all of the characters are mostly well developed, and all very well detestable. George is described as a nice, giving wonderful man. But as the story continues we learn more about this man, and see that in reality he is self-centered, quick to anger, unfaithful, and generally a low life. And his daughter Amanda is selfish, negative, and really has nothing to say positive about anything. We feel a bit of sympathy at the way she is treated on the street by people but by the end of the novel, she isn't much better, but instead has found people under her to pick on, and peers to share her negativity. She is the kind of person who might leave her son alone with a mentally-unstable woman while she ran into a burning house without any thought that she might die and leave her son motherless. I wish I could say that the characters all experience growth and redemption, but really I could only say that about Rachel, the boss and semi-friend of Amanda. Even Kumiko is hard to completely like since she spends most of the story lying to everyone about who she really is, and making promises to George she can't keep.
It is a very interesting take on the traditional crane story, and it is not a bad book at all. But I felt it just went on way too long with too much filler, the characters were just too unlikable with little redemption, the mythology was shallow and unsatisfying, and there were many things tacked into the book that just didn't fit. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was half the length it was. But in the end, it was an experience and certainly has a unique mood and prose that are worth giving a try.
NOTE: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
This was a wonderful book of hope, love and mythical morals. I think the characters could have been a little more well formed, but then again, it would have ruined the ending. It was a very easy, enjoyable and enthralling listen.
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