Thursday, 25 March 2021

What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott


Reviewer:
Catriona Troth

What We Thought Of It:

All of these stories, photographs and facts reside within me. There are tangible tings that remain: the stub of her plane ticket to Hokkaido, her shoes, her packets of scent, his letters. These things tell the story of a life, of many lives intertwined, but I am the point at which they meet.

Sumiko has always been told that her mother died in a car accident, the year after Sumiko started at school. She has been brought up by her grandfather and has followed his path into a legal career. But just as she is about to qualify as a lawyer, she receives a phone call that changes everything she thinks she knows about her life - because it reveals that her mother was in fact murdered by her lover.

Under Japanese law as it stood at the time of her death (in 1994), very little about a trial was in the public domain, nor was much information made available to the victims’s family - the so-called Forgotten Parties). But Sumiko is determined to find the truth.

From then on, the narrative weaves between Sumiko’s searches, and the story of Rina and Kaitarō, the two lovers. But how much of their story was true? Kaitarō was a Wakaresaseya Agent, a kind of private detective, hired by Rina’s husband not merely to find evidence of adultery but to create that evidence via seduction. So is he truly in love, or is it all part of a cruel deception?

The plot in a large part hinges on the details of a legal framework that will be entirely unfamiliar to many readers. Scott’s research for this book took her so deep into the Japanese legal system that she has actually been made a member of the British Japanese Law association.

But equally, the novel is about love, passion and intimacy. The ability to be completely oneself with another person – and what can happen when that trust is violated. It is also about memory – childhood memory especially – and what the mind chooses to retain and how it interprets it.

Rina and Kaitarō are both photographers, and the visual imagery in the book is spellbinding. A storm is described as “turning the clouds the colour of mussel shells.” A lover’s body is seen “rolling into her like a wave curling on the shore.”

A complex novel that demonstrates the power of crime fiction at its very very best – both revealing something transcendent about human nature, while rooting itself within a specific time and place.

Longlisted for the 2021 Jhalak Prize. Shortlisted for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award 2021.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

Avoid If You Dislike: Stories exploring relationships that culminate in male violence

Perfect Accompaniment: Skewers of grilled halibut flavoured with yuzu, followed by red bean ice cream

Genre: Crime Fiction

Buy This Book Here

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