I’m trying to distance myself from the cultural and time differences I experienced and still, as much as try to, I cannot really say I liked the book. Some Prefer Nettles is not at all a badly written book, but unfortunately there was nothing in the story or characters I could relate to.
Tanizaki tells a story of a married couple that no longer wants to be married, but somehow Misako and Kaname don’t do anything towards their official separation. Both husband and wife want out of this marriage, and it’s not something that the times didn’t allow them to do, yet neither of them takes a step in the right direction–they maintain a life “together”, keeping the image of a married couple for the sake of I didn’t actually understand what, while living each a life of their own. And it’s perfectly fine by me if somebody wants to live their life in misery (which is actually the way I perceived their relationship), but I cannot remain neutral to the position of constant insecurity in which their son was put (apparently realizing the modern notion of divorce). The novel is centered around the conflict of old and new, of not wanting to change. Alas, I cannot sympathize with people who are not willing to take actions and change a situation they both don’t like and are absolutely aware should change. I fully understand what Takizaki tried to do in terms of the conflicts between East and West, old and modern, but…no. Just no. I wish the novel was longer, providing a deeper insight to the main characters and their experiences. That would’ve probably made me care more about whether they stayed together or not.
I’ve been really meaning to read another one of Takizaki’s books and I will at some point. It’s not that Some Prefer Nettles was a major disappointment, it just didn’t speak to me in a way that can make me really like a book.
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