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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Twinkle Twinkle

Ekuni Kaori

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To purchase Twinkle Twinkle

Title: Twinkle Twinkle
Author: Ekuni Kaori
Genre: Novel
Written: 1991 (Eng. 2003)
Length: 213 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Twinkle Twinkle - US
Twinkle Twinkle - UK
Twinkle Twinkle - Canada
  • Translated by Emi Shimokawa
  • Japanese title: Kira kira hikaru
  • Made into the movie Kira kira hikaru (1992), directed by Joji (George) Matsuoka, starring Hiroko Yakushimaru, Etsushi Toyokawa, and Michitaka Tsutsui. (Not to be confused with the later TV series of the same name)

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Our Assessment:

B : restrained story of an unusual love triangle

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian B+ 13/12/2003 Daren King

  From the Reviews:
  • "Although hardly an exercise in unreliable narration, Twinkle Twinkle offers two clashing perspectives, with the truth lying somewhere in between. (...) Throughout, the language is bright and clear, perhaps deceptively so: what may seem simple on the surface -- a marriage of convenience, say -- seldom is." - Daren King, The Guardian

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Twinkle Twinkle is narrated in alternating chapters by the Kishidas, Mutsuki and Shoko. They are practically newlyweds when the book begins. Mutsuki is a doctor, while Shoko does translation work from Italian.
       As Shoko says early on: "explaining our marriage is no simple matter". In a society where appearances are of great significance neither of them is really an ideal marriage-partner: Mutsuki is emphatically homosexual (and still has a boyfriend, Kon), while Shoko isn't entirely mentally stable (and teeters close to alcoholism). Their in-laws were not aware of these respective flaws in their children's mates when the marriage was arranged, and are naturally troubled when they are revealed.
       The marriage is one of convenience, in a way -- it's important for the doctor's career, for example -- but there's also a genuine sort of affection between the new husband and wife, as they find a certain comfort with each other. Outside pressures, however, weigh on them -- for example, the parents' questions about when offspring can be expected. As Shoko says:

My carefree, convenient marriage was as fun as playing at house, but it came with a price after all.
       Shoko accepts Mutsuki's relationship with Kon, but it also puts a strain on the marriage, especially when Mutsuki tries to set up Shoko with a boyfriend of her own. Shoko's inquiries into artificial insemination also complicate matters.
       The marriage isn't built on very sound footing, and looks to break down under parental and societal pressures and personal weaknesses, but ultimately the Kishidas do come up with a solution of sorts. Neither seemed to have high expectations for it -- with Shoko saying:
It was fine to have marriages like ours. You didn't expect much, you didn't wish for much. You didn't lose anything, there was nothing to be afraid of.
       But they come to see that there's more to it than that -- and to figure out how to hold onto it.
       Twinkle Twinkle isn't a novel of much depth. Both husband and wife focus on everyday events in their descriptions, and while some background is filled in (how Mutsuki and Kon got together, how Mutsuki and Shoko got together) there isn't enough background to really flesh out the characters. The parents remain fairly vague figures too, mouthpieces representing certain positions (the expectations of society) and little else.
       Twinkle Twinkle is a very short novel, and has an insubstantial feel to it -- appropriate for the unusual modern romance it is meant to be, yet ultimately also less than entirely satisfactory. Ekuni writes pleasantly enough and there are enough different episodes (and tension) to carry things along, but it still feels wanting (though, in part, that is also appropriate for what Ekuni means to convey).

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Twinkle Twinkle: Reviews: Kira kira hikaru - the movie: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Ekuni Kaori is a Japanese author.

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