Though Midori by Moonlight was published in 2007, I only just discovered this book a few months ago, and I'm delighted that I did.
Midori by Moonlight is categorized as `chick-lit', which is a term "used to denote a genre of women's fiction written for and marketed primarily to single, working women in their 20's and 30's in the post-feminist era." And while it does fit those parameters, this extremely well-crafted novel is so much more, and can be enjoyed by so many other readers besides by those to whom `chick lit' is generally marketed.
The author, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, (an American who has spent much time in Japan, and is married to the Japanese-born musician, Manabu Tokunaga) weaves many noteworthy aspects of both the Japanese culture and the American into the plot, such as the personal restrictions inherent in Japanese society, the American penchant for regarding foreign societies in general terms of either "wonderful and unique" or "backward", and a number of other aspects of both cultures that we would all do well to examine for their drawbacks. But she does all this with such a finesse and lack of moralizing, that readers might never become aware that this element of keen observation is subtly added to the straight-forward plot in the same way as one of the carefully chosen ingredients is flavored into the main character's delicious home-made cakes.
As I observed in my review of Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells, I wonder if it takes another writer to fully understand that the more simply-written and the more easily read a work appears to be, the more difficult it actually was to create. Midori by Moonlight also clearly fits into that category. All in all, great fun but very intelligent read.
Review by Patricia Volonakis Davis, author of Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece