Yukiko tragically lost her mother ten years ago. After visiting her sister in London, she goes on the run, and heads for Haworth, West Yorkshire, the last place her mother visited before her death. Against a cold, winter, Yorkshire landscape, Yuki has to tackle the mystery of her mother’s death, her burgeoning friendship with a local girl, the allure of the Brontës and her own sister’s wrath. Both a pilgrimage and an investigation into family secrets, Yuki’s journey is the one she always knew she’d have to make, and one of the most charming and haunting in recent fiction.
This book wasn’t action packed, not a great deal happened apart from Yuki getting on the wrong end of an Alsation and shouting at her sister down the phone. The characters weren’t particularly vibrant and the setting was…. well…. Yorkshire. (Just kidding, it has some spectacularly dismal grey bits but Yorkshire is right up there with North Wales in my list of ‘most gorgeous places in the UK).Yet I found myself finishing this entire book in a single sitting- the entire prose is very detached, beginning with a description of Yuki’s hairbrained schemes of things she plans to do with her life and make her millions and then gradually begins to spiral into that deep blue melancholy that sits over the rest of the story. She’s in Bronte country, but she doesn’t really care about the Brontes- she’s just there to see what it was her mother came to see.
It transpires that Yuki’s mother had been seeing visions of a little girl everywhere and had come to the UK from Japan to consult with a paranormal society, to prove that she was seeing spirits. During her stay, however, it began to snow heavily and she pulled her car over, got out and walked out to freeze to death.
So. My theory on this strange, sad little tale is that mum was suffering from mental illness which led her to hallucinate and kill herself (possibly unintentionally) and Yuki has inherited this a similar condition. This is why the story starts with her crazy plans and eccentricities but slowly winds down, and why her sister and father are so protective of her – and also why the story is written in a detached and isolating style, depicting her depression and isolation from the rest of the world inside her own mind.