Life’s big questions, like ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ are some questions. The make you stand still and wonder for a while.. Perhaps not that big a question, but still a tough one, is ‘What makes a book great?’. There are a lot of possible answers to this one, and every single one is valid. One such answer is ‘it made me stand still and wonder’. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness did just that.
Buiding upon the Crane Wife myth, Patrick Ness weaves a suprising tale of love, forgiveness and redemption.
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.
Though fairly simple and straightforward, the plot works in its simplicity. As the novel progresses, myth and story start to intertwine and in doing so creating a depth and delicacy so mesmerising that it becomes nigh impossible to stop reading. The Crane Wife tells a story of love, forgiveness and redemption through art and inspiration. A novel with a message like that soon runs the risk of becoming all too preachy, yet this book is anything but.
The fact that the plot works so splendidly well, is due to the characters. It might sound strange, but George, Amanda and Rachel simply fit the story. They are the perfect characters to carry the story and live it through till the end. The transformation – for it is just that – they all go through is steady, unforced and a delight to witness. I couldn’t help but smile when little cracks started to appear in angy-at-the-world Amanda’s defence and how they affected different aspects of her life and that of others. This is what makes this story so powerful; how people are brought (back) together and allow each other to get through and make a change, make a difference. All this is put in motion by the character of Kumiko, a mysterious woman with an unrivaled talent to make art so beautiful it moves and all the while telling a story. A story of love and forgiveness.
All this is locked on the pages by Patrick Ness’s writing. Just like the story, his writing is delicate and hauntingly beautiful at times. I found myself rereading a phrase at more than one occasion, just to revel in the beauty of the words and the composition. From the very first sentence – which is a gem – till the very last, this book presents Writing with capital W.
To stand still and wonder, that’s something that The Crane Wife does. Wondering about life, love and our place in it all. And above all it makes you wonder about Kumiko. For there resides a crane in each of is. All we have to do is get rid of the Arrow..
Needless to say, but I highly recommend this book to every one. Allow yourself this treat.
★ ★ ★ ★
Do you want the Crane to pay you a visit as well? It’s just a click away.