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Tokyo Fiancee Paperback – December 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions; First Edition (states) edition (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372648
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372648
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A darling of the French literary scene, Nothomb delivers a complex story of first love set in late 1980s and early 90s Tokyo. Amélie is a 21-year-old Belgian student studying Japanese in Tokyo when she begins tutoring Rinri, a sweet, shy and wealthy 20-year-old, in French. The relationship quickly evolves into a friendship and, soon after that, into romance. Rinri is a young soul who is easily swept up in his love for Amélie, and his charm is undeniable as he courts her, but Amélie wrestles with the classic situation: she loves spending time with Rinri, but she doesnt love him, and she cannot deny her need for independence. Nothomb thankfully forgoes the standard approach to passion and unrequited love, leading the reader to hope the adorable couple dont get married and instead find their own separate happiness. Nicely told, intimate and honest, the book depicts perfectly a nontraditional romance. (Jan.)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Acclaimed Belgian author Amelie Nothomb reminisces in this novel about her life in Japan in 1989. She was twenty-one that year, a recent college graduate seeking her emotional roots, and she had just returned to Japan, where she was born and lived with her diplomat parents for the first five years of her life. To earn some money while she studies business, she posts an advertisement offering language classes in French. She is immediately hired by Rinri, a twenty-year-old college student whose French is at the beginner level, despite several years of teaching by Japanese teachers. Before long, their teacher-student relationship becomes more intimate, and Amelie is learning more about Japanese culture than she ever expected.

Perceptively analyzing the communication problems faced by Amelie and Rinri because of their different cultures, the novel warmly and humorously explores their relationship, never taking the differences too seriously despite the confusions that sometime arise. When she meets some of his friends whom she has not met before, she knows that "To meet someone and fail to talk about the weather is to betray a lack of manners," yet she persists in trying to get to know his friends better and to find a subject of common interest for conversation, even though she may be intrusive. She is embarrassed and surprised when he insists on paying her teaching fee when they have been out socializing with his friends, yet Amelie genuinely likes Rinri, and he makes her happy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By faithful urban reader on April 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have to say that I enjoyed Tokyo Fiancee very much, although I don't like the protagonist at all. The quality of the writing is superb--conveying through minimalism a very Japanese sense of the emotional relationship between the author as a younger woman and her Japanese "fiancee." Certain of the episodes in the memoir convey powerfully the sense of utter absorption to be found in the landscapes of Japan. A great deal of cultural context is conveyed in a painless natural way as well. The character of Rinri is absolutely wonderful--a look at a Japanese hu-man, without the negative stereotyping so prevalent elsewhere.

So, why only three stars? Because it is so impossible to like what the author conveys in her own character. She has, essentially, used the feelings and life of this sincere, loving man, to engage in a colonization of Japan that is emotional rather than economic. There is something profoundly immoral about her treatment of Rinri, and, by extension, his family. So disturbing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Young VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is not really a novel, but a personal memoir written by Belgian author Amelie Nothomb. Amelie was born in Japan and lived there with her diplomat parents until the age of five. She adores Japan and its culture and returns when she is twenty-one. To earn some money she places an ad to advertise her services as a French tutor. A twenty year old Japanese student, Rinri, contacts her for help as he is majoring in French. She begins by being his sensei, his teacher, but quickly they become involved in a romance. Rinri comes from a wealthy family and shuttles Amelie around Tokyo and beyond in his white Mercedes. The clash of culture quickly arises when she meets his parents. His mother is shocked by the fact that she doesn't wear pantyhose under her dress despite the stifling Tokyo summer heat.

The book is a look at the clash of two cultures with often hilarious results. Two of the most beautiful scenes in the book involve Amelie's excursions up Mt. Fiji or surrounding mountains. "It's impossible to narrate the sublime', Nothomb writes, but that is exactly what she does with her glorious prose. Amelie revels in her solitary acts and therein lies the problem at the heart of the book. Rinri adores her and wants to marry her. With marriage would come citizenship in this country that she adores, as well as financial security. Rinri is depicted as loving and kind. In fact the one negative in the book is that he seems too perfect. She totally enjoys his companionship, but she doesn't love Rinri.She loves her freedom. This entails a decision, one with which Amelie must come to terms.

This is a beautiful little book, particularly for those interested in Japanese culture.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By glxtokyo on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a very basic romantic novel that reinforces all the possible stereotypes about Japan (weather, parties, fondue, yakuza) and shows a lack of emotional depth in her daily (biographical) choices. That is even without considering the self-congratulatory end. I read it in an afternoon and suggest to read Mishima, Murakami, Kirino to understand the real Japan rather than the tourist Japan.
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By Difficult feet on May 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So glad to have discovered Amelie Nothomb. I will read her in French or English and love learning from her about Japan. She is hilarious.
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