I have previously read 4 of Patrick Ness's "young adult" novels, the dystopian trilogy Chaos Walking and A Monster Calls, a book about grief from the perspective of an adolescent. All of these novels are brilliant and well worth a read. This is his first foray into the adult market.
I feel I must state that I met Patrick at World Book Night in April and he signed my copy of The Crane Wife then, he was extremely lovely to both me and my friends, but this review is a genuine reflection of how I felt about the book.
The Crane Wife is a Japanese folk tale of which there are several variants, this one is 'Tsuru Nyobo" - a story in which a man finds and rescues an injured crane only to then enter a relationship with a mysterious stranger.
In this modern retelling of the story, all round ordinary nice guy George, who runs a small printing business, rescues a crane he finds in his garden. In the coming days a mystery woman, an artist named Kumiko, enters his shop, and they begin to date.
Kumiko's artwork created in conjunction with George begins to create a sensation, but Kumiko has a secret.....
The Crane Wife reminded me of its predecessor 'A Monster Calls' in that it weaves contemporary life together with fable. This is a strength of Ness, and something I hope he continues to pursue in the way Gregory Maguire has with his fairy tale novels. By far the best written sequences of The Crane Wife are the fable sequences related to the crane and the volcano.
Again, like A Monster Calls, a certain line of the prose in The Crane Wife caught me and felled me entirely, on a personal level.
When literature does this : when it can resonate with you in terms of things you have felt on a personal level or if as in this case it gives language to feelings you knew you had inside but had been unable to express, it is magical, it is the beauty of the written word.
This book, at least to me personally, is magical and transformative and has enabled me to look at a situation I have experienced from a fresh angle, and this new perspective has been key to the beginning process of healing an old wound, my own arrow in my wing.
Once again, many thanks Patrick Ness : a round of applause.