Blog Tour/Book Review: Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori.  My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the tour and to Crooked Cat Books for my review copy.

I’m thrilled to say that, to celebrate publication of Cultivating a Fuji, there’s also a giveaway (open internationally) with a chance for one lucky person to win copies of Neither Here Nor There and Social Anxiety Revealed. To enter via Rafflecopter, click here.


Giveaway Terms and Conditions

  • Worldwide entries welcome. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.
  • The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.
  • If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner.
  • Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time the data will be deleted.
  • I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Cultivating a FujiAbout the Book

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…

Format: Paperback, ebook(235 pp.)    Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Published: 15th May 2019    Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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My Review

Moving back and forth in time (but always clearly signposted by the author) the reader gradually learns of Martin’s experiences growing up, at school and at work. Approaching the book from the perspective of hopefully more enlightened times, I found it uncomfortable to hear other characters referring to Martin as ‘weirdo’ or ‘creep’. Reading about his horrible experiences at school was particularly troubling.

The author uses Martin’s story as a vehicle to enlighten the reader about social anxiety, staying just the right side of feeling like it’s a psychology lecture. Part of this is down to the engaging character of Martin and there are plenty of humorous episodes to lighten the mood. Not everyone is without sympathy for Martin either but sometimes, as the book shows, people willing to help him (such as his boss, John) don’t know the best way to go about it or may inadvertently choose the wrong way.

I found myself a little impatient for Martin to embark on his trip to Japan but once he arrived there were some great scenes full of humour, such as Martin’s first encounter with karaoke. I actually would have welcomed reading more about his trip, some of which is only recounted third hand. (The reader will also have to exercise patience for the relevance of the book’s title to become clear.)  The author puts a lot of effort into creating back stories for minor characters, even those who make only a brief appearance (such as the lady in the Passport Office).

I really enjoyed the second part of the book in which we learn of Martin’s life following his return from Japan and I wanted to believe that Martin’s experiences could be replicated for others suffering from social anxiety. After such a hopeful and uplifting message, the last chapter of the book came as somewhat of a surprise and, I’ll confess, left me slightly confused.

Cultivating a Fuji does a great job of highlighting the experiences of those with social anxiety disorder and the challenges they face using the medium of fiction.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Crooked Cat Books, and Rachel’s Random Resources.

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In three words: Enlightening, humorous, engaging

Try something similar…600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster

Cultiveating Author PhotoAbout the Author

Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last forever. 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.

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