The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

Firstly, a huge thank you to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date:
Length: 224 pages
Translated Fiction | Japanese Fiction | Thriller

CW: mentions of stalking, mentions of abuse

The Woman in the Purple Skirt is being watched. Someone is following her, always perched just out of sight, monitoring which buses she takes; what she eats; whom she speaks to. But this invisible observer isn’t a stalker – it’s much more complicated than that.



I really enjoyed the unique way that this story was told, by being in the perspective of the observer of The Woman in the Purple Skirt (referred to as The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan) we are put into an interesting position. Through this narrative, Imamura excellently builds two very complex characters, even if we only ever see one of them through the lens of another character. I found myself invested in the lives of both The Woman in the Purple Skirt and The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan, as well as concerned for their wellbeing.

The obsessive concern that The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan shows towards The Woman in the Purple Skirt causes an atmosphere of unease to run through the novel, we can’t help but question her motives and wonder if there is something more than just the reasons that she gives the reader, or herself, as to why she is trying so hard to ‘help’ this stranger. As the novel continues I found myself questioning more and more of what we were being shown yet, somehow, Imamura still endeared me to The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan and I still couldn’t help but root for her and want the best outcome for both characters.

Although this is a fairly short novel, the pacing is handled very well. We’re given enough time to build up into, what could be considered the ‘main’ plot, to begin to form opinions on both characters. The way that the story progressed felt very natural, these characters felt real especially when we are introduced to a bigger cast and see how the characters all fit into the wider world. It isn’t just the pacing of the story that is well handled but the development of the characters which we witness too. Additionally, it isn’t just the two ‘main’ characters that grow through the course of the novella but the supporting characters too.

Overall, this novella is a brilliantly dark, yet light-hearted, thriller which I highly recommend. The mystery surrounding the characters is gripping and something I’m still piecing together now as I just can’t stop thinking about it. This is a definite must-read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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