After the shock of learning that he has a daughter in Algeria, inspector Jovert gets to know his neighbour Tadashi Omura. The Japanese man has to share an interesting story with the inspector, although he never explains the reason he feels the urge to do so. As Omura's life unravels we learn more about his childhood friend, Katsuo Ikeda, who has played a major part in the story that has brought the elderly man into the present. In the meantime, Omura's complicated story forces Jovert to face his own, buried memories.
The story of The Snow Kimono is filled with love and loss. Great emotions, as well as relationships that feel strong, lead to isolation. Secrets well-hidden eventually come to light and drive the lives of the protagonists into unexpected paths. Memory is a savage editor. It cut's time's throat. In the end, the lives of the people involved seem staged by this strange fate. It's like all of this happened in order to make Jovert and Omura do what they should long ago. But the story is not just emotional. At times, it's shocking and disturbing, making the crimes committed even more painful.
Jovert and Omura are both very likeable characters. The Japanese man at the beginning seems a little weird because he acts like a stalker. He waits for Jovert outside of his apartment, he invites himself in it and even makes an appointment for dinner without asking the inspector beforehand. But as we learn more about his life, we see that he is a man of principle. The French man, on the other hand, is someone that hasn't come to terms that he's retired. This is the reason why he feels that he's missing something from his life. He's offered, though, another explanation for this emptiness and this is the existence of his daughter. At first, he is sceptical towards Omura, but who wouldn't be? Lastly, Katsuo is a self-centered character. He has a way of looking down on everyone else and plays with their feelings. He is the reason for many of Omura's misfortunes.
The Snow Kimono is well-written. The narrative is poetic and this makes it a heartfelt read. Sometimes I lost myself between the stories because the author jumped from one character to another without an introduction or a transitional passage. At other times, I got the feeling that I was reading more Katsuo's story than that of Omura or Jovert. Indeed, most of the narrative concerned incidents from Katsuo's life that Omura was present. Nevertheless, the end was rewarding and I forgot most of my objections.
After reading this novel, I want to search the rest of Mark Henshaw's books. The writing impressed me and the story made me feel a variety of emotions. So, I would say that The Snow Kimono is a novel worth reading. I would recommend it to everyone, especially those who like deep, emotional reads.