Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw

review by Maryom
Retired French police inspector Auguste Jovert is about to have his peaceful life disrupted; first he receives a letter from a woman he's never met claiming to be his daughter, then he gets waylaid by one of his neighbours, Tadashi Omura, a Japanese professor of law who seems to have picked Jovert as a 'father confessor' figure and seems intent on sharing his life story with him. For both men it's a time of looking back at their lives, stirring up unpleasant things long forgotten, and wondering if and how events might have played out differently. Jovert's story revolves around his time undercover in Algeria in the late 1950s at the time of armed rebellion against France; Omura's centres on his life-long friendship with Katsuo Ikedo, a rather disreputable but extremely wealthy author, and the curious circumstances under which Omura found himself bringing up Ikedo's daughter as if she were his own.

First off, I'd better admit that this wasn't quite the book I'd expected; the cover looks rather like a Nordic Noir thriller, the blurb seemed to support this, and so I'd expected a faster paced, more action-packed story. Instead this is a beautifully written, very atmospheric read, a quieter psychological study delving into the past, revealing hidden emotional wounds and the terrible things people can be capable of. I started out a little wrong-footed but soon fell into the rhythm; I'm just not sure though that I quite followed everything - there didn't seem to be any reason that Omura picked Jovert to unburden himself to, or any connection or correlation between the two men's stories. Maybe, by expecting events to take a danger-filled 'thriller' route, I missed something. As with many stories that unfold through flashbacks, Omura's past isn't revealed sequentially but by darting about on the timeline - back to only a few years ago, then right back to childhood, before jumping forward again - all a little confusing at times.
Even with these quibbles, this is a lovely read, as much for the atmospheric scene setting as the plot, and one I'd like to re-visit.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - 
Tinder Press
Genre -
Adult fiction, literary

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