Patrick Ness - The Crane Wife (4 stars)

Haunted novel about stories and the way they change from teller to teller

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Patrick Ness - The Crane Wife

(Canongate)

Known best for his young adult fiction, there’s little surprise that Patrick Ness’ latest book for ‘grown-ups’ leans heavily towards the magical. If you’re familiar with the original Japanese fable, then you’ll immediately recognise the opening scene of a man tending to an injured bird in his garden. Come the end, you’ll be haunted by the Ness method of delivering ultimate freedom for his crane in its new guise.

George Duncan is essentially a ‘nice’ man. His gentleness appears to be the reason why his relationships have failed, but even as a sad divorcee he still has a loving daughter and equally affectionate grandson in his life. But a past indiscretion threatens to engulf George and blunt the possibilities of happiness with Kumiko, the mystery woman who wanders into his shop.
This is a novel about stories and the way they change from teller to teller. That motif emerges subtly at first, before becoming explicit as the climactic calamity arrives in several versions. By that painful finale, this flight of fancy is one his readers will be only too glad to have embarked upon.

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