Simultaneously, Simons tells the story of Edward’s early life, recounting his time as a young student of Japanese culture in London, and his relationship with his first love, a beautiful and fiercely independent American artist. These two narratives work together to reveal the innate hypocrisies of Edward’s character, demonstrating how he is capable of casting moral judgements on a large scale, while still failing to uphold them in his own life.
In his ability to create a narrative which spans present and past, Simons’ writing is reminiscent of the best of Sebastian Faulks. His evocation of Japan as a place of peace and beauty is sensual. However, there is something fundamentally unlikeable about Edward, and his actions sometimes seem to come out of nowhere. As a result, the end of the book lacked the force it promised.
Nevertheless, An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful is a well-written novel, which deals with serious issues of responsibility and blame. David J Simons is certainly an author to watch out for.
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