The Snow Kimono – Japan, Paris, Algeria – Mark Henshaw

snow book

Why a booktrail?

There is a saying in Japan that if you want to see your life you have to see it through the eyes of another….

Story in a nutshell 

A retired police officer August Jouvert living in Paris comes across a Japanese professor standing outside his appartment one day. And what the Japanese man tells him could change his life forever…

Auguste has just received a letter from a woman claiming to be his daughter. Now this mysterious  Japanese man starts to tell him the story of his own lost daughter

If you want to see your life you have to see it through the eyes of another goes the saying in Japan. But then what happens if you don’t like what you see?

Place and setting

 PARIS - Rue St Antoine Auguste Jouvert lives here and where he first meets the Japanese stranger PARIS  - 36 Quai des Orfevres Where the police staton is where Jouvert used to work JAPAN - Kamakura Where the kite festival takes place ALGERIA - Setif Omura goes here and  it’s where Jouvert’s daughter lives - in Algiers JAPAN -Tokyo and the Imperial University of Japan Omura once worked here Osaka Omura lives and where they get off the metro in Togetsu

PARIS – Rue St Antoine
Auguste Jouvert lives here and where he first meets the Japanese stranger
PARIS – 36 Quai des Orfevres
Where the police staton is where Jouvert used to work
JAPAN – Kamakura
Where the kite festival takes place
ALGERIA – Setif
Omura goes here and it’s where Jouvert’s daughter lives – in Algiers
JAPAN -Tokyo and the Imperial University of Japan
Omura once worked here
Osaka
Omura lives and where they get off the metro in Togetsu

The setting is several things in this book – both the actual settings of Japan, Paris and Algiers but also the deep recesses of the human mind and the human conscience –

Memory is a savage editor. It cuts time’s throat

Paris

Where the mystery begins and where Auguste received his letter and meets the Japanese professor. A snowy city on the Rue St Antoine where Auguste lives close to the Bastille. Belleville is the Algerian part of town not far away from his home and his mind. For his past is about to confront him on his own doorstep –

“The street lamps were lit. Rain still fell in a thin mist. The roads shone. To anybody else it would have been obvious – accidents hovered like hawks in the air”

Japan

Japan shows up two characters – one a respected professor and the other a party boy who only thinks of himself and disregards women as nothing more than conquests. The second a novelist called Katsuo Ikeda uses people to further his career. Remember the Japanese saying?

”Look at people, Tadashi. Just watch them. If you want power over people, you have to get inside them, find out what they are afraid of. Be them. It’s the only way.”

Omura is the wise man in the tale who speaks of life as being similar to a traditional Japanese jigsaw puzzle

“Some pieces are small, others large, but all are calculated to deceive, to lead one astray, in order to make the puzzle as difficult, as challenging, as possible. In our tradition, how a puzzle is made, and how it is solved, reveals some greater truth about the world”.

The Japanese setting represents wisdom, forgiveness and closure. The descriptive prose is oriental and flowing –

The events of the day jostle in her head. They settle for a moment. Then, like a flock of birds at dusk, they take to the air, whirling round and round in the sky above her”

And what of the Snow Kimono of the title? Made and sold in Osaka, its threads weave throughout the story. The Kite festival  in Kamakura is both uplifting and evocative of the joy and innocence which once existed

Algiers

The story strand which links the two man – for Auguste worked in Algiers and led a double life as an undercover government officer. His secret past comes to light and he has much to hide. During the country’s war of independence, there was a lot of pain and a sense of abandonment –

It is here where the labyrinth of Algiers’ alleyways evoke the puzzle theme of the book and the confusion of Jouvert’s mind. Logic is not present here and he struggles with both the backdrop and the ethical dilemma which he now finds himself in.

A story of many strands

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