Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Full of old, exhaused-looking places


Yuki has travelled from Japan to visit Bronte Country on a special mission.  She's a "psychic detective" who's trying to see if she can find answers regarding her late mother in Yuki Chan in Bronte Country. We learn that Yuki's mother has died, but not many details about what happened.  Yuki is a 20-something woman who has no particular affinity for the Bronte sisters, but she does have a smattering of photos that her mother took while on a visit to northern England a decade before.  Luckily, she has an older sister, Kumiko who lives in London, so she has a base from which to begin her journey.

Yuki starts out on an organized bus tour to Haworth.  Most of the other people on the bus are elderly Japanese women who are reverently interested in all things Bronte.  Yuki really is just using the bus tour as a way to get her to the correct area to investigate her mother's photos.  After a tour of the house where the Bronte sisters lived, Yuki hides until the bus departs.  She then sets about finding the hotel where her mother stayed on her visit long ago.  It turns out to now be a B&B so Yuki checks in and attempts to see if she can figure out which room her mother occupied.

Once that's done, she takes the photos she has and attempts to recreate the exact pose or angle that her mother saw when the photo was taken.  She's hoping that by doing this, she'll have some psychic connection to her mother and what she was doing when she was there.  While sneaking back into the parsonage where the Brontes lived one night (the better to re-create the situation in the photo without prying eyes), Yuki notices that her movements are being observed by a strange girl.  This girl watches Yuki silently, and seems to turn up wherever she is. Most strangely of all, while Yuki is attempting to find a particular body of water from one of the photographs, she discovers the girl is also out there in the wilderness.  Eventually, she finds that the girl, Denny, has her brother's motorbike (and a gun) and is familiar enough with the local area to be able to take Yuki around to the remaining spots from her photos.  Denny becomes a sidekick as Yuki continues to try to discover the secrets behind her mother's photos.

I found the story of Yuki to be rather odd.  There were strange asides about how she would reopen and re-purpose the old Post Office Tower in London, her experiments with snow, how she fainted on two occasions as a child, intense contemplation of a -Beatle-mania photo from the 1960s, etc. that seem to have nothing to do with the story.  Yuki also visits the "Institute of Psychic Studies" in London, where she believes her mother visited long ago, only to find out she needs an appointment to view their collection of photos.  Since she's already there, she spends a great deal of time poking around aimlessly in the library. There is also an incident with a dog bite that starts out on her thigh, but mysteriously is later on her "ass."  (?)  Overall, the story is about a young woman's attempts to come to terms with the death of her mother -- although going half-way around the world and re-creating old photos that had nothing to do with the death would seem to be an odd way to go about it.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Yuki Chan in Bronte Country from Faber & Faber in exchange for this review

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