Lately I've been reading a lot of Japanese fiction dealing with parasitic children but this story is the reverse. It is the adults in this story who are the parasites stealing from the children. Mari's life and emotional well being is slowly whittled away by her mother who visits excessive responsibilities on Mari while taking time to live her life. The nasty maid who is her mom's buddy steals Mari's possessions as well as taunting her stagnate life. Worse is the translator who is selfish and uses Mari as an emotional punching bag for all his anger and regret. While their relationship is uneven, Mari does get something out of her relationship with the translator; a drama play of her emotional angst and a chance to rebel against the life at the inn. The novel starts with a detailed slow ticking away at Mari's existence and you root for her escape. However, as everything comes to a head at the climax of the story, everything happens or appears resolved in a flurry. Everything happens fast. I did not see this as a bittersweet love story as many have. I might have it weren't for the scene with the nephew and the subsequent reaction of his uncle. But after those scenes it just had too much of a Lolita feel to it. Adults stealing innocence trying to reclaim something for themselves selfishly with regard to who they hurt. Anyway, that's my two cents.