The Crane Wife (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

This novel, inspired by a Japanese folk tale of the same name, absolutely captivated me.  George, a middle-aged owner of a copy shop in Britain, has a normal life and unremarkable relationships with his ex-wife, daughter, and grandson. One night, a crane lands in his backyard, an arrow through its wing, and George removes it, allowing the bird to fly away. His simple action changes everything. The next day, Kumiko, an artist wrapped in a fog of alluring unanswered questions, comes to George's shop. Instantly, both recognize the other as a muse, seeing in each other the completion of their artistic process.

The narrative interweaves the main plot with the story of Kumiko's lifelong work and building of her artistic collection, giving the story a wider scope than I expected. I closed this book and felt like it had wrapped me in the intoxicating embrace of a crane's wing, where all I wanted to do was make art and know the world on a deeper level. I can't seem to talk about this book without labored metaphors and attempts at poetry...maybe that's a good sign!

— From Mary-Catherine Recommends

February 2014 Indie Next List

“Based on a Japanese folk tale, The Crane Wife spins a story about two artists -- one of whom may not be fully human -- and how they achieve the act of creation and destruction, both in their art and in their personal lives and relationships. The characters are fully drawn, each with faults but very lovable in their own ways, and the act of creation is beautifully explored through children, art, and budding relationships, as well as through myths of earth-creation. This is my favorite read of the year -- and it's been a good year for fiction!”
— William D Carl, Books On The Square, Providence, RI


"A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale, that imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that has landed in his backyard."
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.
Witty, magical, and romantic, "The Crane Wife" is a story of passion and sacrifice, that resonates on the level of dream and myth. It is a novel that celebrates the creative imagination, and the disruptive power of love.

About the Author

Born in Virginia and raised in Hawaii and the state of Washington, Patrick Ness is the author of seven novels and a short story collection. He has won the Carnegie Medal twice, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Costa Children's Book Award. In 2012 his bestselling novel "A Monster Calls" became the first ever to win both the Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medals. His books are published in over twenty languages. He lives in London."
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594205477
ISBN-10: 1594205477
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2014
Pages: 310
Language: English