After finishing this novel, I asked myself if I would have enjoyed it as much if the main character had been an American, and the story took place in the United States. Definitely not, I thought. In fact, I would have never even read it if it was an American story. Who wants to read a 464 page book about a depressed, chronically fatigued middle-aged woman, who is dealing with a difficult, slowly dying mother; a cheating husband; sad memories of her father's final years; flashbacks to her childhood where her sister was the pampered daughter; and worries about her financial future if she gets a divorce
Certainly there are readers who do want to read about such a protagonist, but I'm not one of them. What makes this story so interesting, as well as enchanting at times, is it's a Japanese story. While there are some similarities, of course, between a Japanese woman and an American woman going through all that trauma, there are many, many differences. A middle-aged woman in Japan, life in Japan, the history of Japan, the landscape of Japan . . . it's a whole different world for the most part. Other than all the details of the elder mother's slow death, the story never ceased to intrigue me, and 464 pages didn't seem that long at all.
(Note: I received a free copy of this book from Amazon Vine.)