The Crane Wife is a popular old Japanese legend. Patrick Ness' novel follows a nice albeit rather bland man, George Duncan, whose life mirrors that of the man in the legend. The story begins with George being woken by a desolate keening sound. He discovers a large white bird - a crane - shot through the head by an arrow. This dramatic beginning piques the interest of the reader and the book held mine right to the last page.
As well as the parallel of the Japanese legend, another myth-like tale is sporadically inserted into the narrative. This is Kumiko's story - a story of the relationship between a lady and a volcano - which is represented in artworks on tiles created by George and Kumiko. Both are astonished at the response to their art and the frenzy of prospective buyers who seem compelled to have them - at any price!
This novel fits best into the genre of magical realism in my opinion. The quest for truth is one of the themes, along with forgiveness and male-female relationships. These "real-life" issues are interwoven smoothly into the myth-peppered story and all the characters are believable and have an individual appeal.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoyed Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus or readers who like a taste of fantasy without being quite ready to immerse themselves in that genre.
Title: The Crane Wife
Author: Patrick Ness:
Publisher: Canongate Books, Edinburgh
- Biddy, Highland Park