Today, it is my pleasure to be on the blog tour for Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me.
“Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…”
Cultivating a Fuji is the story of Martin, a young IT professional, who has lived with debilitating social anxiety since he was a child. It takes us on his journey as he ripens into a successful and self-assured person later in life.
We begin the story at the end, as it were, as Martin looks back at his painful school life and a career marred by the judgement of his peers, as they firstly struggle to communicate with him, and then view him as almost a lost cause, apart from his exceptional ability at his job.
One of the turning points for Martin, although not the most significant for him as I view it, is when his company, in sheer desperation, send him on a business-critical trip to Japan. He must make preparations for this trip, which could have sent him into a tailspin due to the communication required, yet he achieves success for heart-warming reasons.
In the weeks following Martin’s return from Japan, he is offered help from his company, who wish to repay his success on their behalf. This forces a decision point, between two momentous choices. I think the resilience Martin inadvertently learned from his school years, sets him on the path he takes, and propels the story forward into a new chapter in his life.
Fiona brings meaning to Martin’s life, but she has her own demons to fight. Their relationship heralds an end to their solitary lives:
“Humans aren’t meant to be alone. Anyone who says they prefer to be alone has chosen that state because other people have treated them badly. At least, that’s what I heard from all the lonely people I’ve been in contact with. They may have deserved that treatment because of what they did, but the fact remains that it’s never ideal to be alone.”
The ending leaves us uncertain. There are plenty of moments of contrition in this book, and the feel is generally cathartic. I did find certain aspects troubling, as I think we are meant to. This is an exercise through fiction to educate about, and encourage recognition of, social anxiety. We are urged to think about our responses to those about us and to be kinder to each other.
Trigger warning: child abuse
Purchase Link https://amzn.to/30cYkYd
Please check out all the other wonderful bloggers’ reviews of Cultivating a Fuji! Dates and the bloggers involved are here:
Author Bio –
Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world.
She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction.
NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (currently unavailable), a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014.
THE WOMEN FRIENDS, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt.
SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. CULTIVATING A FUJI takes the social anxiety theme into fiction, using humour to season a poignant story.
Giveaway to Win copies of Neither Here Nor There and Social Anxiety Revealed (Open Internationally)
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