Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Somewhere deep inside I was praying that voice would someday give me an order, too

Every time I read Ogawa, I think of The Housekeeper and the Professor which was such a quiet and sweet story. But then I read something like Hotel Iris which has the same feel and tone but maaaaaaaan the topic is not the same. It is crazy impressive that she can write something that is clearly her and yet so different.

So, what is Hotel Iris about? Teenage Mari works at the family hotel, this falling-apart place in a seaside town. Mari doesn't go to school, since her mother makes her work. She doesn't have any friends. That would take her away from work.

One day there's an altercation with a couple of the guests. A prostitute is yelling at the man in the hotel room, waking up the other guests. When Mari's mother goes to deal with it (meaning, kick people out and figure out who is going to pay for the room) the man yells something and Mari is drawn to his voice.

Turns out he's this older man, an otherwise quiet and unassuming translator who lives on a nearby island. There are some rumors that he killed his wife. But none of that matters. All that matters to Mari is that voice. And probably getting out from under her mother's thumb. Of course, what is she getting into.

So Mari reaches out to the man. And thus their meetings begin and to say anymore is to get into spoiler territory so I'll just say there's "an illicit affair" and "a dark realm of both pain and pleasure" (both quotes from the back of the book). So yeah, things get a little 50 Shades-ish. Let's say it goes in a VERY different direction than Housekeeper and Professor. I could see it fitting in Revenge.

The story is quiet but in an off-tempo way. Like something is askew but you haven't quite figured out what. Not even when things get weird. I mean, you know the direction the story is going, but that same background feeling still lingers. The story draws you in, even when you'd rather look away.

Gif rating:
But also some of this
Ogawa, Yoko. Hotel Iris. Random House, 1996.