Rating: 3 stars
This is a very languid book. The writing reminded me of Tove Jansson’s non-Moomin adult literature.
Not much action takes place in the story, which spans a couple of days. Kaname and Misako have agreed to end their loveless marriage, but neither do anything about it. They use their son, and Misako’s father, and Misako’s lover, and the season not being right as reasons for the time not being right. Things are done because they feel they should be done – a trip to a bunraku performance, entertaining Kaname’s cousin, a visit to Misako’s father. There is no sense of urgency to Kaname, whereas Misako only seems energised by the prospect of spending time with her lover. Kaname seems to like mulling things over, considering their aesthetic qualities, circling around the edges of of a matter more than he likes to be firm in his resolve or his actions. Actions are considered in terms of how they will come across socially rather than whether they will affect anyone emotionally. Finally it transpires that Misako regrets her affair, and her father attempts a reconciliation between his daughter and son-in-law. The story ends hanging in mid air with a suggestion that Kaname is ready to move on.
As well as the exploration of a fading marriage, the book considers the contrast between the old way of conducting one’s self and the modern, Western style of living. Kaname is in conflict about this as well. As part of his ruminations, he takes an interest in bunraku. This for me was very interesting as it reveals the traditions behind puppet theatre in Japan and made me want to watch a performance.
Not as charming as The Makioka Sisters, but still an interesting read.