Within this novel there are two plots. One that takes place in the present, which centers on a man named Hugh McPherson who loses his 11-year-old twins. Could a serious riptide have washed away their bodies? Leaving them to be with his girlfriend would cost him a lot. But, Hugh faces another crisis as his Japanese wife, Setsuko, no longer wants anything to do with him as a result of the death of their sons and returns home to live with her father in Japan. Kazuki Ono is her father and he is currently penning a novel that mirrors what might have happened to his sons. Dealing with both incidents Hugh decides to swim out to sea and drown himself. But, something stops him as a vision of his sons comes to pass or light holding the final letter Hugh sent to his ex-wife asking that she forgive him.
Paralleled within the novel is another storying that focuses on what his father in law relates what happened to his sons by creating another story within this book. Finishing his novel called Fingal’s Cave, a story about an American who also marries a Japanese woman much to her father’s objections, a powerful businessman with ties to Yakuza. Kazuki’s books take Hugh as he reads them and Kazuki revisits and writes them relating to readers the plots of the three books and each one recalling and reading passages that will trigger memories taking them both on a journey to find the truth about what happened to his sons.
Reading what his father in law wrote and hearing the voices of the Brent and James we learn what he states within the book that his grandsons told me of their adventures. Water plays an important role with both Hugh, his children and in the other story. But, when attempting to take his own life the images and letter he sees changes it all and both stories just might blend into one. But, added in we learn more about his teaching position, the tenuous position he places himself in when allowing two students to ride with him, their odd conversation and the reasons by Aaron seems so threatened by a story that he wrote and wants back. Hanna is a street person who seems, desolate, lost and in need of direction and for some reason finds her way into Hugh’s life and does not want to leave. Hoping to avoid and leave a bad relationship she clings onto him.
Hugh when calling a realty company comes across Nakumura Reality, which is a film-industry firm that will change things for him forever. The creators of a labyrinth that engulfs him and will create situations where he will have to discern what is real and what is not! But, first Hugh needs to decide if he can forgive himself for what happened to his sons. Did the letter he saw in his vision ask that his wife forgive him?
As you read the novel created by his father in law and you hear the two brothers interact you see a similarity between Hugh’s sons and the two in this book. There are three books that the author describes and the first deals with Yuudai’s relationship with his father. The second followed his journey to Japan, his surreal attempts to follow his father’s guilt-ridden schematic for reparation and his meeting and love affair with Sumiko. The rest of the second book tells the story of their marriage and birth of their twin sons plus his relationship with Sumiko’s family, the Itos, argument with Katashi Ito0whose ties to the Yakuza, the American had slowly discerned and the subsequent return of Yuudai and family to American. As Hugh did Yuudai would lose his sons and his job was to unravel a mystery about their disappearance: the third book. Fingal’s Cave the title the pages filled with lies, deceits, tragedy, fear and bringing it back to the present the reason why it was written. Orchestrated and conducted what Hugh believed for so long would finally come out and the sad truth would prevail but at whose expense and why? The novel as you read Hugh’s story and the one created by Kazuki mirror each other in many ways but the explanation and reasoning behind what appears to be the truth, you think you hear and see is the work of Nakumura Reality: Fact or Fiction: Reality or Not! You the reader will decide.
The search for the boat that he saw in his vision comes to pass and an unusual encounter with an older woman takes Hugh to a cemetery wondering who was buried there and under the name H. McPherson. Did his wife bury his sons? What about the boat that he finally sees? Searching for truths both Hugh and Yuuadai learn the harsh realties behind the actions of another. Hugh tries to help out two students by giving them a ride. One claiming his actions were misappropriate another wanting something back that he claims will hurt his family if not returned. A master orchestrator and conductor is at the helm of this plot as he creates what he wants Hugh to think, feel and see, the realities that confront him as both stories unfold with endings that might be similar and whose purpose is anything but pure.
Hanna a young woman of about 28 seems taken with Hugh when her relationship with a man named Kyle goes sour. Just why does he get taken in by her and why does he allow her to remain in his home. An educator, teacher and yet his choices are often made with the heart and not with his head as he searches his memory for anything that will bring back the day when his sons drown or did they?
Each chapter varies as the author created two stories within this novel and each one bringing different viewpoints yet each with the same result. A story of love, friendships, lies, helplessness, fear, regret, sadness and even more redemption. Hitoshi and Takumi: just what is the reality?
As Kazuki writes and wants to complete the manuscript he flashes back to Yuudai and his nine year old sons shooting guns. What happens as you read the scene and you learn the truths that lie beneath the words and the guilt of a father, almost ten years the chapters are locked away and instead of dealing with the reality of what happened the author wrote other books. “True escapist fiction.” Just what is true and what does Hugh think he sees as he searches for a boat that might have all of the answers. “ To forgive time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” As he imagines his sons swimming toward him and pictures his wife, Setsuko’s letters in his hand, a crayfish leaves its safe domain, Nakamura reality, and the boys on the boat, Jason. Who is Jason? On page 153 the boat comes alive, the dock is real, the vessels, the name the Pearl and the faint trace of the letters. But, the stories intertwine as both Hugh’s wife and Yuudai’s want nothing to do with either man, divorced, inconsolable, each woman returning home to her father’s home in double mourning. Police called in cases, lives lost; sons dead and where are the graves to mark their lives?
An ending that will leave you wondering who is beneath the surface of the stone marked H. McPherson? What exactly is the reality that someone wants him to believe? Why does Nazuki want to see him? What happens when he does and what does he think he learns? Charges brought against him but why? Real or trumped up? Frustration, friendships, lies and betrayals as one man orchestrates the events of two books better than a master conductor of a symphony orchestra. An open grave. A casket that is filled with a body and is expensive. A funeral for someone with not only Hugh present but someone from his past too. Who is beneath H. Macpherson’s grave? What causes Hugh to feel like he is sinking beneath the stone? Nakamura Reality: reality defined as : the true situation that exists: the real situation: A book that is heartbreaking, heartfelt and a story that will make you wonder what is next for Hugh and just what is the final reality that he sees. The author delves into the lives of two men from two separate worlds yet their situations are the same. Thought provoking, mind stimulating and definitely a unique story that kept this reviewer riveted to the printed page until completing the book.
FrFran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine