Four Seasons in Japan; heart warming and mesmerising

Sometimes you come across a novel that really touches you in such a beautiful way. For me Four Seasons in Japan is one of these novels. Interweaving a poignant, tender tale about connection, family and loss with characters that really seeped into my being, this second novel by critically-acclaimed author of BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick The Cat and The City Nick Bradley, who lived in Japan for many years, is truly life-affirming.

I also found Four Seasons in Japan so fascinating as I feel I learnt a lot about Japanese culture and language, especially rural Japan. It is a true love letter to rural Japan.

Four Season’s in Japan is quite an unusual novel as it is a novel within a novel. It follows the annual seasons, starting in spring. The narrative opens with Flo, an American living in Tokyo who is quite despondent with life. She works as a translator, but her latest work projects have either left her feeling unfulfilled or have been unsuccessful. She has the opportunity to return to the US, but is very reluctant to do so. By sheer accident Flo comes across a forgotten Japanese novel written by an unknown mysterious author and published by a small rural publishing house that doesn’t exist any more. Straight away Flo is captivated by this novel and its characters, the fierce and resilient Ayako who is grandmother to the sensitive 19 year-old Kyo, who has a deep passion and skill for manga art. Flo, knowing she must translate this novel starts to do so as she reads it, fully becoming immersed in the lives of Ayako and Kyo.

However Flo knows she must seek the elusive author’s permission to translate the compelling novel, and travels to the novel’s rural setting to try and do so.

Nick Bradley

I also became fully immersed in the lives of Ayako and Kyo. Both have experienced a massive family tragedy that neither have come to terms with, or ever really will. Hence grandmother and grandson have been apart for most of Kyo’s life. Causing deep disappointment to his mother following the failure of his exams to get into medical school, Kyo is sent to the small town of Onomichi to live with his grandmother and re-sit his exams. To say the least, Ayako is a formidable character. Yet as the story progresses and we the readers are privy to her heartache and loss, I understood her actions, even if I didn’t always agree with them. Akayo is also a character that can be deceitful. This deceit I found to be quite amusing as she is deceitful because she truly loves and grows to respect her grandson.

Four Season’s in Japan is the moving story of grandmother and grandson getting to know each other as well as them and Flo getting to know their authentic selves, and truly accepting themselves. It is an absolutely beautiful story that will stay in my heart for a long time.

Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of Four Season’s in Japan. Thank you also to Penguin for sending me and advance copy of the novel in return for my honest review.

Four Season’s in Japan was released in paperback on 13 June 2024, so if you want to be mesmerised by this beautiful novel as I have been, go and grab a copy now.

To follow the blog tour, please see below.

2 Comments

  1. June 26, 2024 / 5:41 pm

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

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