Monday, June 05, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Three Views of Crystal Water by Katherine Govier

Three Views of Crystal Water by Katherine Govier tells the story of Vera, a young Japanese-Canadian at a crucial crossroads in her life. The story is told against the backdrop of the days leading up to World War II.

Vera's young life has been full of familial loss--first her father left their family to follow his pearl lust to Japan and the pearl trade, then her mother commits suicide and finally her grandfather dies. Left alone, Vera travels with her grandfather's widow to Japan to live among the ama divers, women who live with unprecedented freedom. Used to loss, Vera exhibits a skittishness in joining the life of her new village, and she is slow to trust. Vera slowly begins to develop her own luster as she takes control of her destiny. She learns the skills of the ama divers while gaining a sense of her own identity, defined by who she is rather than by those who have left her.

Alternating between Vera's story and that of her family, we slowly gain an understanding of what has driven them in their passion for pearls. The shadowy world of Japan fighting a battle for Asian domination is the perfect foil for Vera's tale.

This is a quiet, intimate novel with a shifting surface, as changeable as the pearl at the heart of the tale. The language is enthralling and Katherine Govier evokes a time and location that to many is shrouded with mystery.

Three Views of Crystal Water is a window into a story overlooked by many when studying World War II.

See the review at Armchair Interviews - Three Views of Crystal Water.

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