Ness, Patrick. The Crane Wife
Booklist Reviews 2013 November #1
In his third book for adults, acclaimed YA author Ness (A Monster Calls, 2011) addresses work woes, broken marriages, and moral ambiguity as he lays the groundwork for weighty themes of sacrifice, forgiveness, and self-acceptance. While the subjects are heavy, the telling is light as he masterfully weaves together two narratives. One is the story of George Duncan, a print-shop owner whose life mimics the 8½-by-11-inch monotony of his labor until a spectacular, wounded crane appears one night in his backyard. More mysterious is the appearance the next day in his shop of an enchanting woman, Kumiko, and her exquisite cut-paper artwork. Ness' simultaneous retelling of a Japanese folktale about a crane and a volcano is folded and cut much like Kumiko's artwork. Fantastical and whimsical yet tormented, Ness' novel shares its title with "a brilliant album also called The Crane Wife," by "the greatest band in the world, The Decemberists." This acknowledgment can serve as a litmus test. If you share Ness' ardent love for the indie folk quintet, read on. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2013 August #1
Known primarily for his children's books (e.g., Monsters of Men and A Monster Calls, both winners of the Carnegie Medal, awarded by British librarians), American-born Londoner Ness offers an adult novel based on a Japanese folktale. One night in London, divorced, lonely George Duncan rushes to the backyard upon hearing a terrible wailing and finds a huge white crane, its wing stuck through with an arrow he removes before the bird flies away. Then the beautiful but reticent Kumiko comes to his small print shop, asking for help with her artwork. Rave reviews worldwide.[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2014 January #1
George Duncan is an American-born Englishman who owns a print shop in London. His quiet, polite life—one that eventually bored or irritated every woman with whom George has ever been in a relationship, including his ex-wife—pauses in awe and wonder when one night he discovers a great white crane in his garden, an arrow piercing its wing. George pulls the arrow from the crane's wing, and the bird flies away, leaving him bewildered. The following day, Kumiko, a mysterious woman, appears in George's shop with strange and haunting artwork made of feather cuttings. George and his daughter, a single mother disappointed in life and people, find their lives changed by Kumiko's loyal companionship and love. VERDICT Ness (Monsters of Men; A Monster Calls) 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. Fans of Ness's previous works, as well as readers of literary speculative fiction, will enjoy this lovely novel. [See Prepub Alert, 7/8/13.]—Shannon Greene, Greenville Technical Coll. Lib., SC[Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2013 November #2
Award-winning YA author Ness's newest novel for adults, following the collection Topics About Which I Know Nothing, is inspired by a traditional Japanese folktale. Kind to the point of haplessness, George Duncan rescues a wounded crane in his suburban London backyard. Soon after, a mysterious woman named Kumiko enters his life, and she and George form an instant connection. Central to their romance is the art they create together: small three-dimensional sculptures pairing George's book cuttings with Kumiko's feather art, whose effect is so powerful that viewers are rendered speechless. Following the folktale, George becomes increasingly curious about Kumiko, despite her requests that he respect her privacy. A more grounded and accessibly touching storyline involves George's daughter, Amanda, who is as abrasive as George is agreeable. It's not an easy book to settle into. Ness aggressively mixes magical realism, realism, folktale, and postmodernism, and the themes are alternately heavy-handed and inscrutable: the way truth and story are altered by time and teller, the value and danger of forgiveness and anger, and the interplay between loss and love. Despite its imperfections, the book will win over adventurous readers with its originality and intensity. Agent: Michelle Kass, Michelle Kass Associates. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC