Title: The Woman in the Purple Skirt
Author: Natsuko Imamura
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 224
The Woman in the Purple Skirt was one of those books that made me go ‘that’s it?’ when it ended. The set-up was interesting but I expected more from it. The main character (who calls herself ‘the woman in the yellow cardigan’) is a few cards short of a full deck, that’s for sure. She’s completely obsessed with the titular woman and follows her everywhere, absorbing the minutiae of her day-to-day life.
It was really weird because the woman she’s stalking seems pretty plain and normal, but I think the woman in the yellow cardigan feels that the woman in the purple skirt is seen by others in a way she isn’t. She even influences the woman in the purple skirt to get a job at the same hotel as she does, and observes as the object of her obsession starts having an affair with the boss.
This isn’t the kind of book where you like any of the characters, and there was a certain amount of distance put between them and the reader so I never personally felt like I got to know them that well either. What this book does well is paint such a strong portrait of obsession that you don’t really know anything about the protagonist’s actual life.
She’s so lonely and desperate that all of her own defining character traits fade into the background, which I found really interesting. The writing style is spare and matter-of-fact but that’s part of what makes it so creepy. I guess my main criticism is that it ended with a bit of a fizzle and I was left with a ton of questions that never got answered.
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