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A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, for readers of Everything I Never Told You and The Perfect Nanny, What’s Left of Me Is Yours charts a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life–and her murder.
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
A BOOK OF THE YEAR
The Guardian/Observer Ten Best Debut Novelists
New York Times Book Review Editor’s Pick
Brooklyn Book Festival Best Debuts of 2020
LA Times Best Crime Novels
Daily Mail Book of the Year
Woman & Home Book of the Year
Amazon Audible Editor’s Pick
Foyles’ Favourite Books of the Year
L/L Author’s Club Best First Novel Award
L/L The Jhalak Prize Book Of The Year
“I loved it. Gripping, heartbreaking, immersive. I read it with my heart in my throat.”
—Sara Collins, bestselling author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
“Remember that new-discovery, time-stopping, every-moment-is-magical kind of love? That’s what it felt like to read this novel. Then limerence turns to passion which leads to tragedy and suddenly this book is impossible to put down as you speed toward a conclusion that is as surprising as it is satisfying.”
—Jamie Ford, bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“At once luminous and captivating, What’s Left of Me is Yours is the best kind of fiction: it tells a truth. All the easy lies about love fall away, as Stephanie Scott explores its often bitter, twisting, aching core. This is a brilliant, haunting book.”
—Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl
“Beautifully written, atmospheric, and immersive, Stephanie Scott’s What’s Left of Me Is Yours tells a propulsive story about heartbreak and loss and the greatest mystery of all, family.”
—Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“I was deeply moved by What’s Left of Me Is Yours. . . . Scott is a gifted writer, capturing with precision the small details of everyday life and what they mean to the soul.”
—Chris Bohjalian, bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and The Red Lotus
“Beautiful. I loved it!”
—Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of The Island of Sea Women
“[An] impressive first novel. . . What’s Left of Me Is Yours is a finely written case history of a crime of passion—not only a ‘why-dunnit’ but a ‘what really happened?’ . . . A metaphoric lyricism ripples through this chronicle of an unknown past recovered only in part. . . Scott answers her compelling book’s questions with the skill of a master.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Enrapturing… This richly imagined novel considers the many permutations of love and what we are capable of doing in its name.”
—The New York Times
“[An] intense debut. . . Exhilarating. . . Byzantine subplots, distinctive characters, and atmospheric settings will leave readers spellbound.”
—The Los Angeles Times
“[A] quietly passionate debut. . . Scott’s sumptuous descriptions of locations and meals beguile, and her take on the tabloid-inspired story is subtle, tender and humane. What’s Left of Me Is Yours is a delicate dissection of deception’s impact on relationships, and it provides a window into the Japanese legal system’s effect on women.”
“A fascinating true crime story is here alchemised into a sensitive, elegiac, heartfelt and passionately controlled novel.”
—Adam Foulds, Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Quickening Maze
“This novel is a masterpiece. In What’s Left Of Me Is Yours, Scott has delivered a breathtakingly original and haunting concept in the most exquisite prose. I never wanted it to end.”
—Lesley Kara, bestselling author of The Rumor
“Scott deftly spins a web through modern day Tokyo in this captivating [novel].”
—Newsweek Must-Read Fiction for Spring
“Exquisitely written and beautifully told, What’s Left of Me Is Yours is a sensory journey to Japan and the darkest places of the heart. This is a story of the enduring bond between mothers and daughters, and the thin line that separates love and obsession.”
—Karen White, bestselling author of All the Ways We Said Goodbye
“Stephanie Scott’s debut novel is poignant, brave, and compelling; it will stay with me for a very long time.”
—Clarissa Goenawan, author of Rainbirds
“A gripping legal thriller that digs deep into the complications of human emotion. A daughter’s quest for truth probes the delicate intersection of trust and betrayal, passion and loyalty, justice and compassion.”
—Lynn Kutsukake, author of The Translation of Love
“An exquisitely crafted masterpiece you’ll be pressing into the hands of others.”
—Woman and Home
“A brilliant debut.”
—Louise Doughty, author of Platform Seven and Apple Tree Yard
“Stephanie Scott has achieved that rare thing in her debut – a literary love story that reads like an assured thriller. Compelling, moving and intense, What’s Left of Me is Yours reminds us that love is never without its dark side, families are never without secrets, and the deepest loss contains a seed of hope – if it can be found.”
“With painterly care, Stephanie Scott shows us a tempestuous side of Japan unfamiliar to most. What’s Left of Me is Yours is a virtuoso’s debut.”
—Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
“A beautiful, beautiful book that defies genre – and my words… This is truly an epic, meticulously and lovingly researched, with such exquisite description and detail that I read the same lines over, many times…I will not forget this book for a long time.”
—Louise Beech, bestselling author of How to be Brave
“Stephanie Scott’s story of a woman’s murder sweeps the reader into a world in which love is fused with betrayal and truth is locked away. Beautiful, delicate and brutal, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours, is difficult to put down, impossible to forget.”
—Marti Leimbach, bestselling author of Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking
“What’s Left Of Me is Yours is a formidably accomplished debut that offers a glimpse into the dark and intriguing world of the Japanese marriage breakup industry. Using multiple perspectives Scott deftly creates an impressionistic narrative in a process of slow revelation. A young lawyer seeks the truth about her mother’s death and as fragments of the past emerge, through photographs and legal statements, she begins to understand the elusive nature of truth and the proximity of love and death. Part Bildungsroman, part detective story this is a deeply moving and beautifully written novel. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.”
EC Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed
“A gripping, beautiful, heart-breaking debut. Stephanie Scott stuns with her considerable talent in this Tokyo-set story of a young woman who dissects another’s life—that of her murdered mother—in order to find the truth about her own past.”
Abigail Tarttelin, author of Dead Girls
“A powerful, ambitious and stunning debut. This is an extraordinary, humane and shattering story of the lies we tell to protect ourselves and others. Scott’s incredible novel brims with psychological complexity, forensic research and characters shaped by unimaginable loss.”
—Jackie Copelton, author of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
“A strange, moving and disturbing story, beautifully written. Japan’s high-rise cityscapes and remote rural towns come alive through Stephanie Scott’s elegant prose.”
—Emily Midorikawa, co-author of A Secret Sisterhood
“Sensuous and unsettling, Scott’s prose will stay with you long after the final page has been turned. Although at times a shatteringly brutal story, Scott carries the reader with great skill towards a surprisingly redemptive ending. Storytelling at its best.” —Guinevere Glasfurd, Costa Prize shortlisted author of The Words in My Hand
“What’s Left of Me is Yours is part love story, part crime novel, exploring both romantic and family relationships as it charts a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life and death. Set against a stylishly evoked backdrop of both past and present Japan, this is a beautifully written and meticulously researched novel. The illicit love story at the heart of this book is complex and unusual, but told with such insight that the deep, intense passion the couple experience almost rises from the page. A novel that is sure to stand out from the crowd.”
—Susan Elliot Wright, bestselling author of The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood
“A stunning debut: tragically beautiful, sensuous and haunting. Wow, just wow.”
—Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room
“This novel is an exquisite legal thriller for the big screen; a pre-digital montage of newspaper cuttings, photographs, VHS recordings, official reports, letters and forms. Stephanie Scott excavates family and food, love and death with forensic skill. It’s an emotional rollercoaster you won’t want to exit, even after the very last page. Phenomenal!”
—Patience Agbabi, Canterbury Poet Laureate, author of Telling Tales and The Infinite
Book Club Kit
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- Before reading the novel, had you heard of the wakaresaseya or “marriage breakup” industry? What do you think are the risks of this industry being allowed to operate? How does this relate to honey-trapping in your own culture?
- From the beginning, photography plays a large role in the novel. How does photography influence Sumiko’s telling of her mother’s story?
- Sumiko notes early in the novel that the best lies are close to the truth. How does Kai prove this theory as he tells Rina about himself?
- Sumiko observes that she struggles to imagine her mother as a young person, an individual separate from her motherhood, “she is my mother and I cannot picture her any other way.” Have you ever heard a story about a family member and struggled to reconcile this with your own image and experience of them?
- This novel revolves around a murder, but we learn the identity of the alleged murderer relatively early in the story. How does that affect your reading of the events leading up to the crime?
- Almost every character in the novel struggles to balance multiple roles: parent, lover, child, professional, etc. Who do you think struggles the most?
- How do physical objects trigger memories and emotions for Sumiko and Yoshi after Rina’s death? Do you have any “talismans” that remind you of people you’ve lost?
- How is the Japanese justice system similar or different to your own? What do you think of Yurie Kagashima’s defense of Kai? Is it a fair defense?
- What do you think Sumiko means when she says that every member of her family, including her, is guilty of her mother’s death?
- How do you think knowing the full truth about her mother’s death will affect Sumiko’s life after the action of the novel concludes? What do you think will be the significance of her “choice” at the very end? And is it the right one?
- Is the Law a character in its own right?
- Are the locations in the novel characters in their own right? How do they affect and shape the narrative?
- What do you think of the novel’s title? How does it apply to all the characters?
- What economic and societal constraints are faced by the men and women in the novel? Have any of these issues featured in your own life?
- How does the novel depict the tension between personal desire and the pressure to conform to social norms?
- The novel is a mediation of all the different forms of love, what does love mean to you? Who from the book best exemplifies this definition of love?