After being ill with Covid I’m doing my best to catch up on my reading and any outstanding reviews, so I’m delighted to finally be able to share my book review of the breathtakingly beautiful The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina that should have been posted in March as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Zaffre Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this moving book and for being so understanding during my illness.
Thank you so much to everyone for your support, especially Anne Cater, Tracy Fenton and Rachel Gilbey, who have been so understanding as I continue my recovery. I’m doing my best to catch up on my reading and hope to post more reviews soon.
About the book:
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .
On a windy hill in Japan, in a garden overlooking the sea stands a disused phone box. For years, people have travelled to visit the phone box, to pick up the receiver and speak into the wind: to pass their messages to loved ones no longer with us.
When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she is plunged into despair and wonders how she will ever carry on. One day she hears of the phone box, and decides to make her own pilgrimage there, to speak once more to the people she loved the most. But when you have lost everything, the right words can be the hardest thing to find . . .
Then she meets Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss. What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking…
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is an unforgettable story of the depths of grief, the lightness of love and the human longing to keep the people who are no longer with us close to our hearts.
About the author:
Laura Imai Messina has been living in Japan for the last 15 years and works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. She took a Masters in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in over 21 territories.
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina is a unique, moving but ultimately uplifting book that took my breath away. Different to anything I’ve ever read before, it is a beautifully written and mesmerising story of love, loss and hope that I know will stay with me for a long time to come.
Devastated by the loss of her mother and daughter in the Tohoku tsunami of 2011, Yui is so consumed by grief she doesn’t know how she is going to carry on living. But then she hears about a disused phone box that stands in a garden in Japan, where people travel from all over the world to lift up the receiver and speak into the wind, hoping to pass their messages to loved ones no longer with us.
So Yui decides to make her own pilgrimage to the magical phone box overlooking the sea, longing to speak once more to the mother and daughter she misses so much. But once there she can’t bring herself to speak, unable to find the right words to say. So she stays and watches as people come and go, as their words of love and longing are carried away by the wind.
Then she meets Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose daughter has stopped speaking after the unbearable loss they have both suffered. As their friendship grows, Yui and Takeshi slowly begin to come to terms with the deep sorrow they feel. Takeshi and his daughter Hana help Yui as she finally starts to find meaning in her life again, the connection between all three growing as they begin to accept that the grief they feel does not have to mean that their lives are over.
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is a powerful and thought provoking novel that moved me beyond words, bringing to mind my own personal losses as I allowed myself to be swept away on a journey of love and loss, tears rolling down my cheeks on more than one occasion at the poignant and beautiful moments held between the pages of this breathtaking story. The phone box itself is based on the true story of the Japanese garden of Bell Gardia, where pilgrims really do speak into the Wind Phone, hoping their words will reach their loved ones and enable them to come to terms with their grief. This fact brought an authenticity to the tale that made Yui’s story even more real to me, bringing it vividly to life as I read, my heart filled to bursting as I turned the final page.
Laura Imai Messina has written a unique book unlike any I have ever read before. It’s an emotional read that takes you through every stage of grief, so do bear this in mind if you’ve suffered a recent loss, but the overall thought I was left with as I turned the final page was that even in our most darkest of times it is possible to find a glimmer of hope. I loved every word of this beautifully written and thought provoking book and can’t recommend it highly enough. Simply breathtaking.
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina is available to purchase now: Amazon UK
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