Monday, 16 September 2013

Review: The Crane Wife

The Crane Wife
Patrick Ness

'I do not like talking about myself so much. Let it be enough that I have lived and changed and been changed. Just like everyone else.'

Patrick Ness has this really impressive skill for blending fantasy and reality and making us feel like it is all reality. The elements of fantasy in both of his novels that I've read have been so deeply entrenched in an exploration of humanity it becomes hard to separate the two. That is no bad thing. I fell in love with A Monster Calls (at least, I did when I'd stopped sobbing uncontrollably) and now I have fallen in love with The Crane Wife. I can't deny there are a few faults but it is such a kind, hopeful and forgiving book that I can let them slide quite easily.

One night George Duncan is woken by a keening. A white crane has fallen into his garden with an arrow through it's wing. George, a decent, kind and good man, helps the crane by removing the arrow. The next day the enigmatic Kumiko walks into his shop and so starts a 'magical' relationship and the story...

This a novel made up of multiple layers. George's story is one, his daughter Amanda's is another and the story of the crane wife makes up a third. Ness has a talent for blending these stories whilst still keeping them separate until they must inevitably collide. Which they do. And it is wonderful and sad and restorative. Very early in the novel the concept of telling stories is introduced as an incident from George's childhood is narrated. Ness creates an image of a story as a living thing, something that is moulded by each person's place within or without the story. I loved how he integrated the idea that a story is different depending on who tells it, everyone has their own version of the same event. This is how the novel works. Kumiko is the centre (I think), she is the story that everyone has a different version of.

'There were as many truths - overlapping, stewed together - as there were tellers. The truth mattered less than the story's life. A story forgotten died. A story remembered not only lived, but grew.'

George was one of those characters I could see myself falling for in real life. He is a good man but, like all good men, makes mistakes. He learns from these mistakes though and becomes a better man. That's where the whole element of forgiveness comes into the novel. After the climactic event there is a sense of everything having been forgiven. It feels like being patted on the back by a novel and being told 'its all OK now'. Odd, but powerful.

I would recommend this novel for its quiet power and the subtle high-five it gives for all the good that does reside in humanity. I can't resist now moving onto the Chaos Walking trilogy and his newest More Than This (if it's out?). Sign me up for another Patrick Ness sob-fest.



  1. And it's FINALLY coming out in the US in January 2014. THANK GOODNESS.

  2. I totally had the same sobby relationship with A Monster Calls and I can't wait to get my hands on this one. Plus, GORGEOUS COVER.

  3. I have to get to Patrick Ness one of those days - he seems quite well received and I haven't read any of his works *hangs head in shame*

  4. Thank you so much for the wonderful book!Now Movie Waooo.. excited for that
    Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam will be together.
    50 Shades Movie

  5. The Chaos Walking trilogy is probably my favorite YA ever. Hope you get a chance to read it soon.

  6. Soooo, clearly I need to read some Patrick Ness! I feel like he's been quietly getting more and more popular out there lately.


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