A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery | Book Review

A Single Rose by a French writer, Muriel Barbery is a beautifully crafted book which can fill one’s heart with gentle warmth, peace, and hope for a better tomorrow. If you are in need of reading something delicate, comforting written in ethereal prose, this slender volume won’t disappoint you.

This is a little novel full of nostalgia veiled in a dreamlike, evocative language exploring loss, grief, passage of time, abandonment, forgiveness, human connection, cultural discovery, and the meaning of nature and ancestry heritage in our lives.

Set in the Japanese city of Kyoto, A Single Rose tells a story of a 40-year old Rose, a French botanist by profession, who, following death of her estranged father, arrives in Japan to take care of his affairs. For Rose, this is her first trip to Japan. During her stay she embarks on a journey which helps her discover her heritage, and connect with her late father.

From the start, the reader is immersed in the culture of Japan. We follow Rose as she visits traditional tea houses, temples, gardens. The nature, plants have a dominant presence in the book – it’s not their beauty which has an impact on Rose, but rather their symbolism and hidden subtle meanings.

Rose’s poetic journey into the depths of the Japanese culture and traditions is mingled with the introduction of the Japanese eclectic folktales, myths, and legends.

Throughout the book, the protagonist attempts to locate her own place in the world – in the world where she wanders alone, with both of her parents gone. Using the presence of her late father by the author as a reference point for self-discovery proved to be a very interesting concept.

A Single Rose is a delightful, life-affirming and reflective book, a lovely ode to Japan, and the importance of hope.

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