The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura – Book review

Well, The Woman in the Purple Skirt wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The burb billed it as a psychological study into obsession, and while I do see how that applies to the story, I’m not sure it lived up to that expectation for me.

Opening sentence: There’s a person living not too far from me known as the Woman in the Purple Skirt.

The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan

Our narrator refers to herself as ‘the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan’ and she has developed an obsession with her neighbour who she calls ‘the Woman in the Purple Skirt’. She tracks her movements and knows a lot about her routine but little about her as a person.

She goes as far as to get the Woman in the Purple Skirt a job at her workplace so she can get to know her. Ultimately, she decides she wants to befriend her.

I just want to talk to her. It’s not as if I’m making a pass at her.

But, as can be the case when you project a personality onto someone, the Woman in the Purple Skirt doesn’t quite turn out to be who the Woman in the Yellow Cardigan was hoping for.

Japanese Translations

I have read a few novels translated from their original Japanese now ( Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura spring to mind) and I love their shared characteristics of being so lyrical but deeply deadpan in tone.

I can’t be sure if that’s the type of novels I’m drawn to, or the writing style in translation, but I enjoy it. These qualities were present in this book, which is the main reason I kept turning the pages.

While I enjoyed the experience of reading this due to the tone, it didn’t quite resonate enough with me story-wise to make me feel totally engaged and I think I just felt a bit sad for the two lonely women by the end.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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