THE SEPARATION by Katie Kitamura
Review by Paula Farmer
A SEPARATION is an intense story of intimacy and infidelity as a young woman comes to terms with her husband’s cheating ways and the demise of their marriage. For some time they’ve unofficially separated, with no direction one way or the other in their relationship. No friends or family have been made aware of their separate lives. In effect, they have been living apart together. A situation that only seems to benefit Christopher while our unnamed narrator/protagonist languishes in limbo. Despite that, she is determined to call him out, proclaim her freedom and move on with her life, but just as she is determined to get answers and change their status, Christopher is nowhere to be found. He is supposedly on a business trip in Greece, but seems to be missing in action. Not knowing of their marital woes and worried since not having heard from Christopher in some time, his mother insists the wife go to Greece and check up on him.
__therefore, I would like to know, where exactly is my son? Immediately, my head began to throb. It had been a month since I had spoken to Christopher. Our last conversation had been on the telephone. Christopher had said that although we were clearly not going to be reconciled, he did not want to begin the process- he used that word, indicative of some continuous and ongoing thing, rather than a decisive and singular act and of course he was right, divorce was more organic, somehow more contingent than it initially appeared- of telling people.
Although she assumes that he is lost by design, she succumbs to her mother-in-law’s urgings and treks to his last known location to a lonely, little-known resort in Greece. Her journey there leads to a tragic revelation, but the trip serves more as a catalyst to her own personal journey of emotions and rediscovery of priorities. The book’s tone is somewhat distant and cold, and the story overall is undeniably bleak. Between that and other elements, such as a droning first person narration, an introspective somewhat victimized female protagonist, and a hint of mystery, THE SEPARATION begs for and deserves, to a certain extent, comparisons to Daphne Du Mauier’s REBECCA. While this story has REBECCA-esq qualities, it is not at that level of greatness. With REBECCA Du Mauier was at a writing peak, with series command of literary prose weaved into a fully realized mystery. Although Kitamura is not quite at that pitch, she does posses a distinct writing presence and promises to be an emerging talent to watch.
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