I love France #52: Book review: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa


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Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa



Paperback, 352 pages

Expected publication: June 4th 2013 by Gallery Books

Three Lives Tomomi

Received from Gallery Books
via NetGalley

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France  New Authors 2013
2013 Ebook Challenge


Rating system

I may not often judge a book by its cover, but more often than not by its title. When I saw this title on Netgalley, I had to open and see what Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa was all about. A Japanese name AND the mention of Paris in the synopsis? I was sold!

I devoured very quickly this very smart novel. I loved the quality of the writing, of descriptions and inner feelings. I loved the quirkiness of it all, as you never really know if you are in truth or fiction, and of course I loved the treasure hunt especially in Paris, with the mention of lots of famous or not so famous places. I really felt I was accompanying Ben in his quest. The novel may feel gloomy at times with murders, real or not, I will not tell you, and the setting of the last part of the book. But it won’t prevent you from being stunned by its purity

As I read this book, I felt in the company of 3 other great writers I enjoy very much:  Simon VAN BOOY (you HAVE to read Everything Beautiful Began After), for the quality and precision of the craft, Italo CALVINO (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler) for the creativity and reflection on the act of writing, for a book within a book (within another book?), and definitely Haruki MURAKAMI “the great” (1Q84 of course), for all the above, plus a very special cat, and scenes in the subway.

If you enjoy any of these 3 authors, you definitely need to read Benjamin Constable. So you can get it right now on NetGalley, or try to win it on the Goodreads giveaway!


“A new and enticing voice in fiction draws readers through the streets of Paris and New York on an intricate adventure. It’s twisting, contemplative, playful and darkly entertaining.”

A suicide note. Hidden clues. A deadly game of wits. An imaginary cat. A paean to a strange and addictive friendship. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa is a compelling invitation to indulge in simple delights and explore a shadowy world where the boundaries between truth and invention are blurred.

Ben Constable and his friend Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa live in Paris. They drink in late-night bars, smoking and laughing, caught up in a seemingly endless conversation—until Butterfly sends a letter saying she’s killed herself. Haunted by the loss, Ben follows her final instructions on a mysterious treasure hunt, revealing unexpected joys and obscure faces of the cities she has lived in. But the deeper he digs, the darker the past he uncovers. Butterfly’s life was less innocent than he could have imagined. In a game he thought had been devised for his amusement Ben starts to suspect he is in fact the plaything. And the real and surreal overlap, making it difficult to judge what comes from the heart and what could be dangerous. [from the publisher]


Benjamin Constable

“I was born in 1968 in Bristol in the UK. On my fourth birthday we moved to North Devon and I played in woods and on beaches. I hated school and these early games were the first narratives of aworld of stories that I could make up, adapt and develop. In 1977 my family moved to Derby where inner-city decline and multi-culturalism gave me a sense of belongingin a world where everybody was different and provided the backdrop for a very happy childhood.

My secondary schooling was remarkable only for my lack of attendance. I left at 16, semi-literate and with ideas of becoming a rock star. For the next few years I worked in bars and clubs, drove lorries, played in bands, drew pictures, and recorded music by myself.

In 1992 I moved to Toulouse in France where I worked as an apprentice engineer in a recording studio and learned to speak French. It was around this time that I started to try and read books, although I found this very difficult. A year and a half later I moved back to Derby and built and ran a project studio for friends who had a small record label. We were better at organising club nights than making records and my next ten years revolved around partying.

In 1998 I moved to London to better concentrate on music and in 1999 signed a couple of records. During this time I wrote my first short stories. In 2000 I was invited to work producing music with a friend Rob Webster who was signed to a major label. The music industry was quite frankly a disappointment but not the partnership. Rob and I went on to make some beautiful recordings out side of his record contract that were never released but that we were very proud of. Rob carried on making music but I was spending increasing amounts of time reading and writing.

In 2002 I learned that I was dyslexic and went to the local university who had a program of encouraging people with learning disabilities into education. I studied creative writing. One of my lecturers, the writer Moy McCrory, gave me exceptional help and encouragement particularly in the development of my short stories and I had two of them published. A series of significant events led me to shy away from nightlife and music, and I decided that the album I recorded in 2004 would be my last.

In 2005 I moved to Paris where, as well as teaching English and translating films and books, I have written copy for an advertising agency and three novels. One of my favourite things in life is early evening drinks.”

This is copied from his website. Please go visit, there’s tons of great material on the book and Paris, among lots of others things: maths, music, etc.


Reading 2011(and beyond)
River City Reading
Goodreads Readers




Just a reminder guys:

If you link your own post on France,

please if possible

include the title of the book or topic in your link:

name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

example : me @ myblog (Camus)



21 thoughts on “I love France #52: Book review: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa

  1. Yep. This is on my list. I also like Van Booy, so I’m glad you mentioned it. As for Murakami, I am ashamed to admit that i’ve never read him. Too much magic realism? And consider yourself followed!


    • thanks for following me too!
      did you see, you can get Three Lives… for free on Netgalley.
      if I can say, if you are into literary fiction, you have to read 1Q84, at least for the quality of the writing. not sure I would say ‘magic realism’, more than the border between reality and virtuality is blurred


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    • it’s a really good one!
      FYI, I just tried, twice, to leave a comment on your review of Van Booy’s latest book. each time when I clicked after having written my comment, it displayed an error message about the server!


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