I noticed this book on Netgalley with a note that a portion of the proceeds will go towards Japan Disaster Relief, so if nothing else it caught my eye for that. I like fiction set in Japan and China but in the past have read mostly historical rather than contemporary fiction.
I was glad when I finished the book and went online to get all the details to do this review that I hadn't re-read the blurb as it gives away one of the key points of the plot and would have been a real spoiler if my memory was better. Chihiro moves from the small town she was brought up in to Tokyo after the death of her mother. Her parents were unmarried and did not have a conventional relationship, she the mama-san of a club, he a prominent businessman, Chihiro pigeonholed by others on the basis of her parentage. Tokyo is to be a fresh start and an escape. The book tells the story of her growing relationship with the man she sees looking out of her window, whose past holds a dark secret.
The prose is simple and beautiful, the story of the young couple and his friends is sweet and sad, and it was refreshing to read a story where the relationship develops slowly and cautiously, isn't based on looks and passion and where are a different, more comfortable partnership is the key to happiness. They are no poster couple for the romantic ideal. The characters are all quirky and complicated.
I'm not sure whether this was a long novella or a short novel but it took me less than 3 hours to read. It certainly didn't seem like a full length novel. I can't put my finger on why but something about this book had me entranced and I'll be looking up other works by the same author.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 5*