Talking Location With .. Venetia Welby – OKINAWA
Novella set in KYŌTO
23rd September 2021
A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery, novella set in Kyōto.
Many readers, I imagine, will be familiar with The Elegance of the Hedgehog. A Single Rose is the latest work brought to an English audience by Gallic Books.
It is clear that the author has visited Kyōto and has a real fondness for the variety of experiences and scenes that grace the city. This is a novel full of texture and sensuality, a keenly observed story that is set amidst the almost tangible world of 40 year old Rose, who finds herself in the erstwhile capital of Japan.
The father she has never known, Haru, has died and she has come from France to hear his Will being read. Before the formal reading, she is escorted around the sites and restaurants by Paul, Haru’s assistant, nominally following a route created by her dead father.
When she arrives she is a prickly woman who has been deprived of the love and care of her father, and her sense of loss pervades her very being. Her mother, too, has passed away. Yet Kyōto somehow works its magic to soften her contours, she has the courage to allow herself to be wooed by the different stimuli to which Paul introduces her. Her father was almost a celebrity, he knew so many people, and given she doesn’t have the opportunity to get to know him, the city in which he thrived is gradually opening up to her
This is a beautiful book to read in order to really get a sense of the city, its temples and teahouses and its food, prior to a visit; or a way of reimagining the city once a visitor has returned to their home, when the city is perhaps a distant memory.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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