This powerful and erotic tale reveals how one's man desire threatens to ruin his life.
It is 1861 and Hervé Joncour is a silk breeder from France who is happily married to the beautiful Helene. Compelled to travel illegally to Japan alone in search of disease-free silkworms, Hervé comes across a "girl who does not have oriental eyes" and, despite not exchanging one word with her, falls deeply in love.
Over the course of several years Hervé continues to
make return trips to Japan in order to buy more silkworms and to lay
his eyes on the beautiful and intriguing woman to whom he has become
When the woman gives him a note that reveals her love for him, Hervé
finds his life in France unravelling as he becomes more obsessed with
the woman at "the end of the earth". He channels his frustrations into
building a beautiful park in the grounds of his home and takes his wife
on exotic holidays to hide his unhappiness.
When a second erotically charged letter arrives from
his lover he is distraught by the contents, for while it is professes
love and devotion it also warns Hervé to never seek contact with her again...
In the style of an old-fashioned fable, Alessandro Baricco has crafted a beautiful and mesmirising novella. Some
of the chapters are so short they read more like poems, which greatly
adds to the charm and mystique of the story. The writing is hynotic,
repetive and deeply affecting.
I read this book in under an hour and found myself
greatly moved by the love affair. And the shock ending left me feeling stunned,
so much so I wasn't quite sure if I had fully understood what had
happened: had I read too much into it?
Ultimately this is an astonishing piece of writing. Heart-breaking, bewitching and passionate.