I was very kindly gifted the audiobook by: The Orion Publishing Group
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.
When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
This is a hauntingly beautiful and sophisticated story with artfully written descriptions of Japan.
The book is made up of two stories. The first one is a slow burning love story between Kaitaro and Rina. Which is a gentle and sweet discovery of each other. You end up getting pulled in even though you know it has a tragic ending.
The second story is of her daughter Sumiko, a young lady who is on the verge of becoming a lawyer and is trying to find out more about her mother.
As the love affair moves forward to its sad conclusion in the past, in the present Sumiko goes to great lengths to find out just what happened to her mother all those years ago.
I didn’t realise before starting to listen to the book that its inspired by a real crime, however, having read it it does have a sense of realism which is quite scary. There is a fair bit about the Japanese legal system which I found really interesting especially as its so different from the UK.
As I was reading I was forever hoping that maybe the ending could be different and knowing the terrible ending of the love story makes this a very bittersweet read. It is heavy – I had to listen in sections because it made me sad. It is also slow – a lot of emotions and descriptions, a lot of beautiful phrasing.
But mostly its just stunningly beautiful and a fascinating read / listen. This one will stay with me for a while.
Note point on the audiobook set up the narrator was a great choice – very emotive, conveyed the story really well.
Highly recommended 5 out of 5 Biscuits.