The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
Published by Canongate Books
6th February 2014
THE EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS EVERYDAY
One night, George Duncan is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly away, his life is transformed. The next day, a beautiful woman called Kumiko walks into his shop and begins to tell him the most extraordinary story.
I've had The Crane Wife on my kindle to read for ages now, since another blogger said how much they had enjoyed it. And, as is usually the case with someone with too many books, and not enough hours to read them all, there it stayed. However, a chance online conversation via twitter with Maia, of Maia Moore Reads prompted us to agree to read this book at the same time at the end of March. Do-able for me because it was most definitely the half term holidays, and because Maia spends a rather large proportion of time on board a bus!
So what is The Crane Wife about? I'm not overly sure that I still know the answer to this question. George Duncan, the perfect mister nice guy, who women adore but can't commit to be with, wakes one night having heard a strange noise coming from his garden. He ventures outside (as people always do in both books and films when they hear something strange outside) and is there surprised to find an injured crane. The bird seems to understand George, and is perfectly calm whilst he attempts to free it's damaged wing from the arrow trapped within it.
The following day, George meets Kumiko, a Japanese woman who enters his shop to ask him about helping her with her paper cutting. The two immediately form a bond, principally because for some unexplainable reason, George has spent that morning making a crane out of paper. The two quickly combine their images and their work sells for indescribable amounts of money. They also begin to fall in love. However, no matter how much George wants to know Kumiko, much of her life remains a mystery to him.
Accompanying this story, is a Japanese tale of a relationship between a lady and a volcano, which I guess could muddle the text somewhat, but actually doesn't. Their relationship sort of echoes that of George and Kumiko and of the paper cuttings that they produce.
I did enjoy The Crane Wife. It's an unusual tale but for all it's quirkiness it does work.