Today, I’m kicking off the blog tour for The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura, and I’m calling on fans of Japanese fiction, or those looking to read some, to read this book!
The Woman in the Purple Skirt is being watched. Someone is following her, always perched just out of sight, monitoring which buses she takes; what she eats; whom she speaks to. But this invisible observer isn’t a stalker – it’s much more complicated than that.
Our narrator, The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, is watching The Woman in the Purple Skirt, documenting her moves… She wants to be her friend but can a friendship bloom from obsession?
I, too, was obsessed with The Woman in the Purple Skirt! For the first few chapters I was looking out for clues, trying to figure out what it is about her that makes her so captivating. All I can conclude is that if you enjoy the art of ‘people-watching’ this novel will draw you in too. There’s no fast-paced action, no dramatic effect, just one woman watching another, trying to intervene in her life to make it better, wanting friendship. But there’s a darkness to this novel, not something played out in the pages, but something underlying the plot, unnerving the reader.
As the novel progresses, you start to wonder more about The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, what’s her backstory? Wrapped in a shroud of loneliness and obsession, as the reader you sit back and observe how these two women collide. This isn’t a character driven novel, rather a character observation. Its microscopic nature will have you thinking about reality vs perception, it’s for you, the reader, to take from it what you want, draw your own conclusions.
The writing style is matter-of-fact but works cleverly to paint an unsettling picture. One of those novels that stays with you once you finish the final page. However, if you like your novels all wrapped up in a neat bow, be warned, open endings galore here.
If you’re looking for some contemporary Japanese fiction, this one translated by Lucy North, is well worth a read. I’m under no illusion this novel will appeal to everyone, but I loved its hidden depth. It’s short enough to read in a day, but interesting enough to stay with you long after. Who are these two women really, was this always going to be the outcome, does loneliness drive us to obsession?
*My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book*
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