As a result of being an homage to the dying tradition of serial novels and therefore getting serialised in a Japanese Newspaper between 2010 and 2011 itself, Inheritance from Mother has very short chapters and no prologue, which is quite unusual for Mizumuras writing.
It is the simple yet complex story of two sisters in their fifties who wait for their old, but extremely demanding mother to die, so they are finally free and able to live their own lives independently. It is an honest and not far fetched account of the ugly and tragic sides of having ageing parents whom the children have to take care of, despite their past difficulties, fights and conflicts.
I loved the characters (although the cheating husband felt quite stereotypical), but I have to admit, that Mizumura has an extremely elitist perspective on life which in this case felt a bit ridiculous, because I could not take the complaints of a character quite seriously, who lives in a 72,3 square metre flat in one of the best areas of Tokyo. Even the smaller apartment she moved to later on is still bigger than the flat my boyfriend and I are currently living in (not to mention, that living space in Tokyo is incredibly more expensive than where we live).
Anyway, Mizumura always loves to write about family history and she does it with great care and devotion, to this Inheritance from Mother is no exception. But due to the short chapters and the serialised publication of her novel, many of the family history pieces felt rushed and placed a bit at random. By this I mean that usually Mizumura would tell the story of the protagonist’s mother and grandmother as a whole (at least she did so in all her previous works I have read), but in this case you get some bits and pieces along the way, thus making the repeated coming back to the stories a bit repetitive.
As always, Juliet Winters Carpenter did a great job translating Japanese into English and apart from the above mentioned little annoyances, Inheritance from Mother was a very well written and touching read which always kept me wanting to read “just another chapter”.