What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott
What’s Left of Me is Yours is Stephanie Scott‘s debut novel published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (W&N). Stephanie was chosen as one of The Guardian‘s ten best debut novelists of 2020 and is part of a new community of authors to have their first novel published during the pandemic lockdown. The Singaporean-English author was inspired to write What’s Left of Me is Yours after hearing of a real case in Japan, where a man employed to break up a marriage was convicted of murdering the woman he had been paid to seduce.
Wakaresaseya – “breaker-uppers” Japanese businesses specialising in breaking up marriages, usually through encouraging affairs or supplying/creating incriminating evidence.
Modern day Tokyo, newly qualified attorney Sumiko receives a phone call and is asked to pass a message on to her grandfather. A woman from The Ministry of Justice informs her that the call is on behalf of Kaitaro Nakamura. When she asks who he is, the line goes dead.
When Sumiko was seven, she was told her mother had died in a car accident. However, she’s always had her doubts, mostly because of her grandfather’s inability to give her any details. The truth was Sumiko’s mother was killed by a man who had been employed to draw her into an affair. Her own father emplyed him so he would have grounds for a divorce and could take Sumiko away from her mother in the process.
Using her legal know-how, Sumiko delves into the secrets surrounding her mother’s death. When she manages to access the recordings of Kaitaro Nakamura’s police interviews, she discovers the painful truth about the man who destroyed her family.
Listen to Stephanie Scott discuss What’s Left of Me is Yours on The Secret Library podcast below:
Although written by a Singaporean-English author, the calm, almost meditative pace of this story strongly resembles several Japanese novels I’ve read, such as If Cats Disappeared From The World by Genki Kawamura or Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. This soothing pace is intensified by the wonderful audiobook narration from actress Hanako Footman (The Crown, Slaughterhouse Rulez). I’ve really struggled to concentrate on reading during the last couple of months but I want to devour this story as soon as I heard about it, so the audiobook solved that problem perfectly.
This isn’t a heart-pounding thriller but a tense and tender story of a woman discovering the truth about her own family. Saying that, this book grabbed my attention in a way novels have struggled to do recently and I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy to read in the future. At any other time, I think this novel would deservedly be plastered across literary pages and I’d bet money on it being nominated for more awards in the future.
What’s Left of Me is Yours is a compelling and beautiful story of a woman discovering how the thin line between love and hate destroyed her family. This will undoubtedly be one of my top ten books of 2020. I can’t wait to read more from Stephanie Scott.
If you liked What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott you’ll love Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.
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