Author In Search of An Ending
This, the third novel I’ve read by Susanna Jones, is in fact the first novel she wrote. And it shares the strengths and the weaknesses of the other two (though curiously, less of the major weakness. More of which later)
Set in Japan, a strange country, a different culture entirely, for most of us, her strange and alienated female central character Lucy Fly, a misfit in her own country and in her own family, has found a home, and assimiliated in Japan, where she works as a technical translator. So there is an undercurrent of everyone speaking different languages, and trying to understand and communicate with each other.
Lucy has a Japanese lover, not quite a conventional boyfriend, as both he and she have large no-go areas in their relationship, which seems predicated on that being fine, and that the strength of the relationship is in fact that weirdness and unfamiliarity to each other.
Into this mix comes an equally, though differently alienated English ex-pat, another rather gauche drifter, Lily. We know, right at the start, that Lily has been murdered, and Lucy is the prime suspect. The story unravels backwards and forwards as Lucy revisits, in her mind, and makes the stories of all their pasts.
The strength of the book is in the interesting, well crafted characters, the sense of strangeness and dislocation, uneasy and unsettling.
However, like those other two books, as I approached the end of the story, and where it was going to go, my overwhelming sense was of disappointment. An ‘oh – so what’ , as the structure and journey Jones has been carefully building ends with a slight feeling of having been cheated. Curiously, as THIS is her first book, she managed the ending rather better than in the other two I’ve read. I obviously can’t say what the ending is, for fear of spoilers, but somehow her endings are too mundane and not really in keeping with what is, for the most part, a sure, fine imagination and mastery of the craft of writing