Award-winning YA author Ness’s newest novel for adults, following the collection Topics About Which I Know Nothing, is inspired by a traditional Japanese folktale. Kind to the point of haplessness, George Duncan rescues a wounded crane in his suburban London backyard. Soon after, a mysterious woman named Kumiko enters his life, and she and George form an instant connection. Central to their romance is the art they create together: small three-dimensional sculptures pairing George’s book cuttings with Kumiko’s feather art, whose effect is so powerful that viewers are rendered speechless. Following the folktale, George becomes increasingly curious about Kumiko, despite her requests that he respect her privacy. A more grounded and accessibly touching storyline involves George’s daughter, Amanda, who is as abrasive as George is agreeable. It’s not an easy book to settle into. Ness aggressively mixes magical realism, realism, folktale, and postmodernism, and the themes are alternately heavy-handed and inscrutable: the way truth and story are altered by time and teller, the value and danger of forgiveness and anger, and the interplay between loss and love. Despite its imperfections, the book will win over adventurous readers with its originality and intensity. Agent: Michelle Kass, Michelle Kass Associates. (Jan.)
Praise forThe Crane Wife :
“When George and his daughter, with their seemingly ordinary quirks and heartbreaks, are befriended by an enigmatic woman, art, beauty, and myth become living forces in their lives. This poignant novel echoes with the longings and sorrows of the ages. But what came as a most delightful surprise is the humor and humanity that Patrick Ness brings to this story.”
—Eowyn Ivey, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child
"Patrick Ness is on top form here . . . The Crane Wife is a tale full of bittersweet wonder with a very human soul. A treat."
—Matt Haig, author of The Radleys
“This is a novel that treads with feather-deft steps through ordinary lives touched by magic, then takes flight on wing beats of powerful storytelling.”—Ali Shaw, author of The Girl with Glass Feet
“What’s striking is the beauty and humanity of Ness’s writing.”
—Ben East, The Observer
"The Crane Wife is a special novel: a perfect fusion of surreal imagery and beautifully crafted internal logic."
—Helen Brown, The Telegraph
Enthralling and delightful . . . The dialogue is natural and inspired, and sparkles with latent tension.”
—Leyla Sanai, The Independent
“A fusion of mid-life crisis comedy and classic storytelling.”
—Kate Saunders, The Times
“Ness is a highly accomplished storyteller and the gravitational pull of the earthbound strand of his tale is strong enough to stop it from floating off into whimsy. He also has a rare ability to cut poignancy with humour. . . .the mood he creates is unsettling and potent.”
—Michael Prodger, Financial Times
“The story is lively and often quite funny.”
—Ursula Le Guin, The Guardian
“The Crane Wife is a magical and beautiful book – spellbinding from start to finish.”
—Herald on Sunday (New Zealand)
George Duncan is an American-born Englishman who owns a print shop in London. His quiet, polite life—one that eventually bored or irritated every woman with whom George has ever been in a relationship, including his ex-wife—pauses in awe and wonder when one night he discovers a great white crane in his garden, an arrow piercing its wing. George pulls the arrow from the crane's wing, and the bird flies away, leaving him bewildered. The following day, Kumiko, a mysterious woman, appears in George's shop with strange and haunting artwork made of feather cuttings. George and his daughter, a single mother disappointed in life and people, find their lives changed by Kumiko's loyal companionship and love. VERDICT Ness (Monsters of Men; A Monster Calls) fashions his mosaic of prose, piecing narrative with snips of a myth-like fable to create a bittersweet story of loss and love. The narrative pace will keep the pages turning, while the imagery and metaphors wound throughout will stay with readers long after they close the book. Fans of Ness's previous works, as well as readers of literary speculative fiction, will enjoy this lovely novel. [See Prepub Alert, 7/8/13.]—Shannon Greene, Greenville Technical Coll. Lib., SC
Award-winning YA author Ness (More than This, 2013, etc.) moves to literary fiction with a tale that unfolds after an arrow-pierced crane lands in a London garden. George Duncan hears a wild keening and stumbles into his frigid garden to find the injured crane. George pulls the arrow from the crane's wing. The bird flies away. Thus begins a meditation on love--for George, for his broken daughter, Amanda, and for mysterious Kumiko, who arrives at George's print shop the next day. There's symbolism here, with the narrative interspersed with Ness' reinterpretation of a Japanese folk tale about a woman born of clouds and a raging volcano. That tale becomes an allegory running parallel to the earth-bound story of love that fractures the heart and then remakes the soul. George has dabbled with artistic cuttings, forming images from discarded book pages. When Kumiko sees one, she asks to meld it into her art, abstract figures formed from feathers. The result stuns. Every cutting produced thereafter becomes the target of frenzied collectors. George is bemused. Kumiko, a mystery, cares not at all. George wants to possess her, to know her every secret. George is adrift, an American expat out of sync, divorced yet attached to his former wife, inept, too open, too giving in love, but George holds the story's center, and raging around him is single-mother Amanda, unsettled after "two and a half decades of false starts." Other characters--Rachel, Amanda's tightly wound co-worker; Mehmet, George's fey shop assistant; Henri, Amanda's ex-husband--are each "a fellow traveller across that baffling, hostile landscape" of life and love. Mired in neediness, George, knight errant, cannot grasp the truth of love or of Kumiko, ethereal queen, as she appears in reality, and in perception and memory, as lover and savior of George and Amanda in an amorphous denouement. A magical realist meditation on how to love and be possessed by love.