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Fault Lines: Shortlisted for the 2021 Costa First Novel Award

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Fault Lines is another of Siddons' fine examples of a seamlessly crafted story, wherein palpably developed characters find themselves in a plausible predicament.

Raghuram Rajan was one of the few economists who warned of the global financial crisis before it hit. At its core, this is a story of a woman struggling as a wife and mother and trying to find comfort and emotional connection, or even just remember who she was in her pre-marriage life. It's everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether it would be more fun to throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband or hanging up laundry. Estrangement is the mysterious, intractable and secret pain affecting millions of families (including my own).She feels as if she gave up all her hopes and dreams to play a doting housewife and that is the last thing she ever wanted to become. I felt for Pom and his denial of his Mom's dementia, but, again, c'mon - he is a DOCTOR and should be more aware and in tune with someone exhibiting these dangerous behaviors (almost set the house on fire). I wonder who she loved, and what she hid, and when it stopped hurting her to remember, even while she was pretending to have forgotten. In a country with a myriad of customs and social conventions, she is constantly trying to be what everyone else wants her to be, and has learned to put her own needs and desires reluctantly to one side.

A couple working as chauffeurs have been accused of stealing millions from the founder of Tin House Books. Perhaps it is because it is an earlier book but the characters seemed shallow and completely self-involved. While a somewhat pat ending feels unworthy of the novel’s provocative premise, Itami makes palpable Mizuki’s loneliness and her need to feel seen. I thought it was poignant how the calmness and dullness of the life she leads at home is contrasted with the vibrancy and cacophony of colours, sights and sounds she is met with when she and Kiyoshi are together. Is her relationship with Kiyoshi the key to happiness, or just the seismic shift she needs to confront what her life has become before it's too late?As a new mom and wife, it was easy to connect with the pangs of longing Mizuki felt throughout the novel as she contemplated all she had but all she'd had to give up to get there. Itami does a great job of describing the protagonist’s bicultural upbringing too and how it affects her perspective on life.

Mizuki is also incredibly witty and funny which helps alleviate any sense of gloom a book about infidelity could inevitably have.

What follows is a narrative that shifts between a hedonistic affair that plays out among the backdrop of Tokyo’s most alluring and evocative corners, and the familiarity of a life that offers safety, comfort and dissatisfaction. It is a resident’s view, full of noisy details and the way the city fits into daily life – or rather how life fits around it.

A novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo. This was the last of a trio of books I found tucked away in a box when I recently moved---all three having stayed in their box over two decades since my last move. She feels trapped by the world that everyone else tells her she should embrace, and simply being someone’s wife and someone’s mother is not enough.

I seem to remember now from previous Siddons books I'd read long ago that her style is a bit blowsy with completely unrealistic dialogue and wildly improbably scene-setting. Moving, yet never saccharin; darkly funny but never mean; about the way love can consume you but also about how important it is to find space for oneself. The story goes from Atlanta, where Merrick does nothing but take care of everyone -- her mother-in-law with Alzeimer's who almost sets the house on fire, her teenage daughter recovering from anorexia, and her often-absent doctor husband -- to Hollywood, where Merrick's younger sister is trying to become an actress and also will need her help.

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