3 out of 4 stars
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Plum Rains on Happy House by Michael A. Greco is a novel about life in Japan told from the perspective of a foreigner. Ichiban, as he is later named, is invited to Japan by a mysterious man to live in the Happy House. This unsuspecting American takes the offer and decides to make the most of his time in the county, teaching English and learning Japanese in his spare time. What he doesn't realize is that the Happy House is more than just an inn. It is a living entity that is haunted by spirits and creatures and requires its inhabitants to make certain sacrifices to continue living behind its walls.
This book is both a portrayal of the different levels of culture shock a foreigner experiences when going abroad as well as a story of a motley group of characters all living under one roof. These characters try to coexist peacefully despite their many quirks. They even set out to do something great together by attempting to open their own language school.
I really enjoyed this book. It drew me in right away. I have visited numerous other countries in my life and could definitely relate to the main character's reactions to living among people of a different culture. There is such a wide array of colorful people in this story that I was intrigued from the beginning. It was both unique and surprising. Parts of the novel were told from the viewpoint of a crow. I found this to be different from traditional writing as well. The author seems to have taken his time to write something creative and unexpected.
My favorite part of this book was the introduction to Happy House and its inhabitants as the protagonist slowly met each one. Some parts were even laugh-out-loud funny. As the novel progressed, I did start to feel as if it became a bit too bizarre. What was original in the beginning started to seem a bit far fetched. I still enjoyed the book, and this didn't take away from it overall.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. It was an entertaining and original read. There were very few editing errors. I would recommend it to fans of travel literature and comedy novels. There were some scenes with explicit sexuality. So, I wouldn't recommend this novel for younger readers or those who are offended by writing of this nature. Otherwise, this was a unique, fresh reading experience and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by this author.
Plum Rains on Happy House
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