Hutch & Marlow
Author: Nanae Aoyama
Specifications: ISBN  978-4093864688
349 pages
13.8 x 19.2 cm / 5.5 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shogakukan Inc.
Tokyo, 2017
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The story of a single mother and her twin daughters set in Hotaka, a town in the alpine prefecture of Nagano in central Japan. Author Nanae Aoyama has described it as an homage to Enid Blyton’s The Twins at St. Claire’s, one of her favorite books as a child.

The twins Chiharu and Marie Nonoshita, more familiarly known as Hutch and Marlow, were born on the last day of the year. On their 11th birthday, their mother Emi, a novelist, declares that she is ready to graduate from being the adult in the house. After that, she begins sleeping in every morning instead of getting up early to make breakfast, and she stops tidying up. At the age of 11, the twins are suddenly forced to grow up in a hurry as they must begin doing all the cooking and cleaning and laundry themselves. They quickly discover how much work it is, and realize just how lucky they were to have had their mother taking care of all those things until now. The story traces how the twins learn to work together while also enjoying themselves over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Emi tells her editor that she is going to take a break from writing. She is pushing aside all of her responsibilities as an adult to live as a good-for-nothing idler. As the twins do more and more things around the house for themselves instead of counting on their mother to do them, they experience new awakenings that carry them one step at a time closer to adulthood. They become aware that even though they are twins, they are each a different person. They learn that girls and boys are different. And they start to wonder about what kind of person their father was.

Twelve months later, Hutch and Marlow discover who their father is. He is remarried and living in Spain, and his new wife has given birth to a daughter—which means they have a half-sister. It was in fact out of fear that the twins might decide they want to go and live with their father and half-sister that Emi had become an idler.

In the end, though, Emi finds that she cannot give herself completely over to an idler’s life, and so mother and daughters go back to the way things were before—except that all three of them have clearly learned much from the experience. They are now aware that they will only be together as family for a brief while longer, until the time comes when each must go her own way. But they have also reaffirmed the invisible bonds that will last forever among them even if they must live far apart.