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This is a sensual gem. It is as relaxing as a good massage or warm bath or towel. A novella that if pages were compressed would be no longer than a short story. Composed like a fairy tale or fable, it has a chorus that repeats  a courier’s itinerary from France to Japan in the late 1800s. Due to disease affecting the silkworm eggs in France, resort to Japanese eggs was necessary even thought Japan had not opened its borders to foreigners.

Hervé Joncour is the courier for the commercially brilliant Baldabiou who employs Joncour on behalf of the silk industry that Baldabiou created in the environs of Lavilledieu, France and who with Joncour rescues that industry. Silk is a visual and tactile feeling.

This is a tale of love, passion and intrigue. It is an adult tale that surprises. The simplicity of the writing promotes the story and beautifully depicts a certain area of Japan during that period. Read the novella to the end even though three-quarters through some of the writing seems to be inconsistent and ill-placed with the rest of the novella. The story is as rewarding as it is intoxicating.

“Silk” was a best seller in Italy and has been translated into sixteen languages. Guido Waldman is the translator of the English version that I read. Alessandro Baricco’s earlier novels, in English “Lands of Glass” and “Ocean Sea”, won French and Italian literary awards. I am encouraged to read them because of this novella.

This would be a nice beach read.