Haru, a successful Japanese art dealer, loves beauty, harmony, art, balance, intriguing women, sophisticated conversation, and elegance. Months after a brief affair in Japan with a French woman, Maud, he discovers she is pregnant with his child. She warns him, however, that if he ever tries to see her or the child, she will kill herself. Quietly devastated at the thought of never knowing his daughter, who will become a dark presence in an otherwise elegantly orchestrated life, Haru decides he will respect Maud’s wishes. His daughter grows to adulthood without ever knowing him. Is it too late to change things?
This is Haru’s story. In her poetically precise prose, Muriel Barbery explores the deep love of a father, and what is gained and what is lost when one chooses a “family” of friends over one’s biological family. In doing so, she captures the darkness that pushes people apart and the circumstances that can draw them together again.