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The Character of Rain: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Amelie Nothomb
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $8.00 (50%)
Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. In Amelie Nothomb's new novel, The Character of Rain, we learn that divinity is a difficult thing from which to recover, particularly if, like the child in this story, you have spent the first tow and a half years of life in a nearly vegetative state.

"I remember everything that happened to me after the age of two and one-half," the narrator tells us. She means this literally. Once jolted out of her plant-like , tube-like trance (to the ecstatic relief of her concerned parents), the child bursts into existence, absorbing everything that Japan, where her father works as a diplomat, has to offer. Life is an unfolding pageant of delight and danger, a ceaseless exploration of pleasure and the limits of power. Most wondrous of all is the discovery of water: oceans, seas, pools, puddles, streams, ponds, and, perhaps most of all, rain-one meaning of the Japanese character for her name. Hers is an amphibious life.

The Character of Rain evokes the hilarity, terror, and sanctity of childhood. As she did in the award-winning, international bestesller Fear and Trembling, Nothomb grounds the novel in the outlines of her experiences in Japan, but the self-portrait that emerges from these pages is hauntingly universal. Amelie Nothomb's novels are unforgettable immersion experiences, leaving you both holding your breath with admiration, your lungs aching, and longing for more.

Editorial Reviews


"Ingenious...With great delicacy, Nothomb updates the age-old divide between East and West in this delectable little book." --O, The Oprah Magazine

"Elegantly written...Nothomb demonstrates a shrewd understanding of the intricate ways Japanese relationships are made and spoiled." --The New York Times Book Review

"A polished little satire." --The Wall Street Journal


"'French literary lioness Nothomb imagines the inner life of her first two years of childhood, richly depicting this wondrous secret universe.' Elle; 'Potently distills from the state of infancy the intensity of beginnings, the precariousness, the trailed clouds of glory.' New York Times"

Product Details

  • File Size: 241 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312286007
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5QHM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,517 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of the Fall April 14, 2005
"In the beginning was nothing, and this nothing had neither form not substance -it was nothing other than what it was." I read the opening sentence of Amélie Nothomb's, The Character of Rain (Métaphysique des Tubes), and was hooked. I was not disappointed. Using a Japanese belief that children are gods until age 3, at which time they fall and become human Nothomb constructs a brilliant study of infancy. Deeply autobiographical, like all her work, and deeply philosophical, like all her work, what amazed me most was how completely she captured or imagined the self-preoccupation that is early childhood. Any child will believe it is the center of the universe (and why not an infant must be watched and waited on), and yet the same child will experience "the fall," the recognition that he or she is not a god, is not the center of the universe. Nothomb's ability to recognize this essential problem of being a child and tease out of her own experience the joys and pains of existence in a way that is as imminently and entertainingly readable as it is philosophical is where her genius lies. I've never read anything like it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars metaphysical autobiographical tale April 15, 2003
In the beginning before there is an Amélie, God exists as a tube eating, breathing, and excreting. However, the creators are a bit unhappy that this baby behaves more like a vegetable so these parents nickname the tube "la Plante". However, two years later la Plante abruptly moves and cries. Then the Tube's Belgium grandma arrives with the most devastating poison known in the universe, white chocolate. The Tube tastes the sweetness and a new conscience has metamorphosed. Life in the tube has turned quite sweetly though the awakening of Amelie makes her realize that paradise will be lost.
This unusual autobiographical tale first is told in the third person until the pivotal moment in history, the infamous chocolate incident, when the plot is written as a first person narrative. Not everyone will want to read this metaphysical story, but those who do will find a clever, witty, and intelligent tale that even makes the earliest of days come across realistically. Except for the title, fans will appreciate Amelie Nothomb's work that does not miss a beat in the translation from the original French MÉTAPHYSIQUE DES TUBES.
Harriet Klausner
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Metaphysics of Tubes" July 3, 2003
I have to believe that it was the publisher, and not the translator, who took the wonderful (and easily translatable)title of the French edition and turned it into something that sounds like the title of a police procedural (set in Seattle starring Andy Garcia, that you would avoid if you were to stumble past it on HBO), rather than the original and beautiful thing it is.

This is one of my favorite books. No summary will do it justice.
I went back to the re-read the French edition (currently known in America as "the freedom edition") and found that the important chapter about the character of rain appears two thirds of the way through the book and it is NOT central. The discussion of tubes at the beginning and end of the book (as related to the godlike infant/narrator and to her pet koi) are the meat of the story.
This is a pet peeve of mine (or more correctly, a black beast [bete noire] of mine). Why the prejudgement among American publishers that their readers will react violently against philosophy? Thank god they didn't spot the Kierkegaardian echoes in her "Stupeur et Tremblements" or they would have found something different than "Fear and Trembling" for the American edition. It's not just here and with Scholastic's change of the Philospher's Stone to the Sorcerer's Stone either; there is a general dumbing down of titles when they cross the Atlantic.
This wonderful book deserves its real title.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I will tell you who you are..." January 8, 2010
By Akethan
I've always liked the idea of language - and how it must have started. What man's earliest words would have been - this book is a study in early awareness and the choosing of words.

I thought I'd figured out that the first word that Rain would speak would be "Nothing" ("Vacuum" her third word was a close runner-up). She was a blend of King Lear and Emily (from HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA). And the early hammering home of Nothing in TCOR made me sure this was likely to be her first spoken word.

I was struck by the clean shift in gears from the early open tube writing to the awakened child. The first line that stuck with me was p. 28: "Memory is one of luxury's most indispensible allies." The quick etymology of "infant" - "incapable of speech" (57). Rain's 7th word "Sea" and the Emily's earthquake-like description of Saturn & its ring (58). Rain's first rescue from drowning. The related knowledge that it might be "better to let someone die than to deprive him of his freedom" (63). The terror brought on by carp (and boys). Her father's involvement in Noh. Rain's affinity for water. The similarities in description to Rain's early "tube" state or no longer needing a tube or the fish as tubes (58 & 115).

Another kicker: "Tell me what disgusts you and I will tell you who you are" (116).

But the core of this story is the entire cascading series of falls that Rain must go through to become merely human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Christine C. Tibbitts
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
gREAT Book
Published 9 months ago by Janet Fitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great novel
Published 9 months ago by G. J. Ramos
1.0 out of 5 stars You may love it.
Did nothing for me. I'm quite picky though about literature. You may love it.
Published 9 months ago by Earnest
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering things you didn't know you had forgotten
This story is pure magic. Amelie is a genius and a wizard with words and pictures. She takes you back into a time you can not remember and makes you wonder and puzzle over things... Read more
Published 10 months ago by rilla norslund
2.0 out of 5 stars Just ok; based on a false premiss...
Hopelessly naïve: The author seems to believe that thought occurs as a reflection of the mastery of language... Obviously not, an animal thinks, doesn't it? Read more
Published 16 months ago by Carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent quick read
Excellent. This book was recommended to me because I have a son in the Autism Spectrum and it was a fantastic read. It really gives you a different perspective.
Published 19 months ago by brazilianmom
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you
Some books we can't read until we're ready to read them. Fortunately they wait for us, which can't be said of much in life. They seem to understand our inability to pick them up. Read more
Published on May 9, 2011 by Eric Treanor
5.0 out of 5 stars The Character of Rain, the Character of God
The translation of this book into English has been done extraordinarily well and there is seemingly no loss of nuance and feeling in the strangely compelling storyline. Read more
Published on March 26, 2005 by Kali
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