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February 7, 2014 / Leslie

Review: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

The Crane Wife by Patrick NessThe Crane Wife
by Patrick Ness

Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publish Date: January 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 320 pages
Rating: 5 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

George Duncan is an American living and working in London. At forty-eight, he owns a small print shop, is divorced, and lonelier than he realizes. All of the women with whom he has relationships eventually leave him for being too nice. But one night he is woken by an astonishing sound—a terrific keening, which is coming from somewhere in his garden. When he investigates he finds a great white crane, a bird taller than even himself. It has been shot through the wing with an arrow. Moved more than he can say, George struggles to take out the arrow from the bird’s wing, saving its life before it flies away into the night sky.

The next morning, a shaken George tries to go about his daily life, retreating to the back of his store and making cuttings from discarded books—a harmless, personal hobby—when through the front door of the shop a woman walks in. Her name is Kumiko, and she asks George to help her with her own artwork. George is dumbstruck by her beauty and her enigmatic nature, and begins to fall desperately in love with her. She seems to hold the potential to change his entire life, if he could only get her to reveal the secret of who she is and why she has brought her artwork to him.

My Thoughts:

Sometimes I find it difficult to put into words why I found a book so enjoyable. The beauty of the writing, the imagery it evoked, and the sheer magic of the story was compelling from beginning to end. When I become completely absorbed in a wonderful book, I forget to take notes or mark pages, I just enjoy reading. This was one of those books.

Based on a Japanese folk tale, The Crane Wife is a modern-day retelling of the fable set in Britain. The story revolves around George, a lonely London shopkeeper, who saves the life of an injured Crane, and his daughter, Amanda, equally lonely in her own way.

The day after George rescues the crane he meets a mysterious woman, Kumiko, and falls madly in love with her. Kumiko, an artist who designs beautiful tiles, enlists George’s help with her creations. With her by his side George begins a remarkable transformation. Although no longer lonely and reclusive, he longs to know more about Kumiko, who is reluctant to tell him anything about herself or even let him visit his apartment.

There is also a story within the story: Interspersed between the chapters and told in 32 parts, it is the mythological tale of the crane and the volcano, and I assume the legend on which the book is based. The connection between the 32 parts of the fable and the tiles Kumiko is designing eventually becomes apparent.

This was a simple story but a powerful book, and one that has remained with me days after I finished reading it. And one that kept me reading late into the night.


There is still time to enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Crane Wife. Thanks to the publicist at Penguin Press, I have an extra advance copy to give away to one of my readers. And yes, it has that gorgeous cover.

To enter, fill out the form on the giveaway post.
US addresses only by midnight 2/8.

Source: Review copy
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Leave a Comment
  1. laurelrainsnow / Feb 7 2014 1:05 pm

    I have been curious about this one….and the author, too, whom I’ve yet to read. Your review makes me want to grab this one. Thanks!


    • Leslie / Feb 7 2014 1:11 pm

      This was the first time I read this author. I didn’t realize what I was missing. It’s really a beautiful book. I think you’ll like it.


  2. Beth Hoffman / Feb 7 2014 3:35 pm

    Oh, this sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for offering a chance to win.


  3. BermudaOnion / Feb 7 2014 4:02 pm

    This sounds just wonderful. I think I’ve already entered the giveaway so I’ll just cross my fingers today.


  4. stacybuckeye / Feb 7 2014 9:51 pm

    I want to read this one, even more because of your love for it.


  5. Sheila (Book Journey) / Feb 8 2014 8:39 am

    I loved Ness’s Chaos Walking series. I seen him recently in Minneapolis where i bought this book but still need to read it 🙂


  6. A Fresh Tomorrow / Feb 8 2014 8:12 pm

    I was intrigued simply by the title of this book and have had it on my wish list. Thanks for writing such a wonderful review…now I really can’t wait to read it.


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