Book Review: Fault Lines by Emily Itami

About the Book:

Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether it would be more fun to throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband or hanging up laundry.

Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, a voice, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives – and in the end, we can choose only one.

Alluring, compelling, startlingly honest and darkly funny, Fault Lines is a bittersweet love story and a daring exploration of modern relationships from a writer to watch.

Published by Hachette Australia – Phoenix
Released May 2021

My Thoughts:

This novel was an absolute winner for me. Intelligently witty with darkly insightful introspection, Fault Lines is the sort of contemporary literary fiction I long for but hardly ever have the pleasure of finding. Stories about affairs are not ones that I usually gravitate to, but I am drawn to Japanese novels and the author of Fault Lines, Emily Itami, grew up in Tokyo, so that prompted me to request this one for review. So glad I did!

‘He’s made me invisible. With all the options I had, I chose him, chose him for life, for living, and he’s frozen me out into an existence that isn’t living at all. I’m in a cage without bars and I’m screaming but nobody can hear. I’m not even middle-aged yet and he’s faded me into the background.’

The writing is pitch perfect and I absolutely loved Mizuki. She comes down hard on herself as a mother but there are scenes throughout this novel that demonstrate just what a terrific mother she actually is, in the moments and instances that matter. Whilst this novel is uniquely Japanese both thematically and within its setting, there was a universal female connection that could be made with Mizuki’s feelings and experiences about marriage and motherhood. In this, Emily Itami has firmly embedded herself into my consciousness as an author of merit. I loved the fact that this novel was about a Japanese woman, set in Japan, living a Japanese lifestyle, and yet, I could totally relate to her despite our cultural variance.

‘Parenting is savage – there is no other activity on earth that you could get up to do four times a night for two years straight, and at the end of it be merely in the running for mediocre.’

Despite its overall short length as a novel, I feel like I travelled such a journey with Mizuki, getting to know her inside out. Her backstory and how this influenced the person she had become was woven into the narrative with seamless perfection. I particularly liked the musings about her years in America and Tokyo as a single woman and how this may have influenced her own cultural connections to the Japanese expectations of marriage and motherhood.

‘Japanese motherhood and its attendant housewifery is a cult, and its initiates take very poorly to anyone who thinks they can enter without going the whole hog. So even though I am a full-time mother with a cupboard full of obento-making accessories, small details indicate cracks in my dedication for which true devotees would like to see me burnt at the stake.’

This novel is funny, whimsical, deeply introspective, intelligent, and achingly beautiful. I really loved it and look forward to Emily Itami’s next novel.

‘He was basically a Care Bear trapped in the body of an underwear model.’

☕☕☕☕☕

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Fault Lines by Emily Itami

  1. Hi Theresa, this one sounds interesting. For some reason I am often drawn to Japanese writers as well. As soon as I see one on the shelf I just have to pick it up and have a look. I am not quite sure why, but I love your phrase “achingly beautiful” – maybe that’s it.

    Liked by 1 person

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