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Kodansha, 2000 - Fiction - 372 pages
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Here the lovers are Kuki, a 54-year-old employee in a publishing company, and Rinko, a childless, 37-year-old woman unhappily married to a cold fish of a husband, a professor of medicine. Stuck in a dead-end job and an uneventful marriage, Kuki is irresistibly drawn to Rinko from their first encounter, seeing through her demure demeanor to the passionate woman beneath. She returns his feelings with ever-increasing abandon, despite lingering fears about where her sexual awakening may lead her. In the end, both are prepared to risk all for their relationship: family, career, and social standing, even life itself.
The story contrasts the lovers' defiantly freewheeling passion - described in imaginative, smoldering detail - with a rigid society where people are expected to play a prescribed role, whether as dutiful wife or compliant office worker. In escaping these conventional roles, the lovers often escape the city as well, immersing themselves in the traditional beauties of Japanese nature and art as they give themselves over to each other and the pleasure of the moment. And ultimately they make a much more radical escape: one that will ensure that they are left in peace, to enjoy an abiding love.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

This very popular 1997 Japanese novel, a bestseller that also spawned a successful television series and feature film, is a relentlessly detailed chronicle of the folie d'amour that consumes a middle ... Read full review

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