Title: The Crane Wife
Author: Patrick Ness
Page count: 305 pages (hardcover), 320 pages (paperback)
Rating: 5/5 stars
“The extraordinary happens every day…
One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – 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 off, his life is transformed.
The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.”
I actually want to give this book roughly 1000 gorgeously crafted stars made from papercuttings. That`s how good it is. I`m not even kidding (though maybe ever so slightly exaggerating).
I`m well aware that I have a bit of a bias for Patrick Ness books. I absolutely adored both the Chaos Walking trilogy and More Than This. However, I still worried a bit when I bought The Crane Wife, as it`s officially an adult novel instead of YA like the other ones. I worried if the style would be too different, if it would be – as adult novels so often are – about topics I don`t care about brought in a way I don`t care about either. I worried it would be so down-to-earth, I would get bored.
I shouldn`t have worried. Ness, as usual, delivered a stunning story. A modern western story interwoven gorgeously with Japanese mythology – again, a bias of mine, having studied Japanese and loving mythology. I didn`t know the story of the crane wife though, and having read this book, the original can`t live up to this impression anyway.
The story unfolds subtly, and elegantly. It starts off mysterious, you get plunged right in, and it never lets go of that strange, almost fairytale like feeling again. It`s one of those books that once you start, it just sucks you in and even if you magically manage to put the book down before finishing it (I barely managed and may have lost several hours of sleep), your mind will stay stuck in it anyway and the entire world looks just that bit different, knowing that story is out there, waiting for you to finish it.
The characters are very relatable – I especially related to Amanda, George`s daughter, with her sense of not really knowing where she belongs in this world. I related to all of her anger, her outrage at everything in the world, and how she keeps losing friendships and relations thanks to a part of her character she tries so hard to hide away. I do that myself, and I didn`t even realise it until a couple of days before I read this book.
Without spoiling too much, as this book should really be left clean and unspoiled to those not yet initiated, but this story is elegant, a brilliant mixture of modern and ancient, of west and east, of different life phases and different people. It`s a story of good people, nice people, with flaws and problems and loneliness and mid-life crises and obsessions and passions.
And if you don`t read The Crane Wife, you`re definitely missing out on a story that can really make the world a bit more beautiful.