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杉江松恋書評百人組手:その5藤岡陽子『手のひらの音符』(新潮社)

※書評百人組手とは:

 一作家につき一作品を採り上げるものとし、百作家百作品の書評を目指します。
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 人は自分の過去の集積物として現在を生きている。藤岡陽子『手のひらの音符』は、人生のそうした側面に着目した小説だ。

 主人公の瀬尾水樹は45歳、デザイナーの職に就いている。ある日彼女は、勤めている会社が業績不振のため服飾業界から撤退することを告げられるのである。服を作ることは、人生のすべてと言ってもいい大切な仕事だった。それが突然中断されることになり、水樹は途方に暮れる。そこに掛かってきた電話がきっかけになり、彼女は自身の過去を振り返り始めるのである。水樹が置いてきた時間たちを、読者は彼女の視点で眺めることになる。

 描かれるのは、主に3つの時代である。
 主要な足場となるのは瀬尾水樹が45歳になった「現在」だ。最初のうちそれに寄り添っているのは彼女の「幼少期」で、瀬尾家と森嶋家の子供たちの関係を柱として物語が進められていく。瀬尾家は徹と水樹の二人兄妹、森嶋家は水樹と同い年の信也がいて、その2つ上の正浩、3歳下の悠人という三人兄弟だ。

 優秀で皆のまとめ役になる正浩、直情径行の信也、集団行動が苦手な悠人という三人の個性が、はっきりとした輪郭を伴って描き分けられているのが「幼少期」パートの美点だ。だからこそ読者は、彼らに寄り添ってその感情を共有することができるのである。

 瀬尾家も森嶋家も決して豊かではない。瀬尾家の父親は酒に溺れたり、外に女を作ったりするようなろくでなしであり(だから、少しだけ優しさを見せる場面が読者の心に残る)、森嶋家の父親も早世してしまう。大人の男たちがどれも頼りにならないのだ。残された女たち、子供たちは貧困と、そのために生じる問題とつきあって生きていかざるをえない。

 この小説の舞台になっているのは京都だが、読者が想像するような「あの」京都ではない。
「五山の送り火は浴衣を着て見にいくお祭りではなく、団地の五階に住む人の部屋から見る遠い光だった」と水樹は述懐する。「貧しさの中にいることは、真夏の車中に閉じ込められるのに似て」息苦しく、その状況が2つの家庭のひとびとを厳しく縛っている。それは特別なものではなく、1980年代後半にバブルと後に呼ばれることになる景気が到来する前にはごく普通に、どこにでも見られる暮らしのありようだった。
 高度経済成長の末期、豊かになった日本の恩恵を受けられなかった人の視点からこのパートは描かれている。

 もう1つのパートは「高校」である。水樹が中学1年生のときに同じクラスに転入してきた堂林憲吾は、高校3年生のときの同級生でもあった。物語の冒頭にあった電話は、憲吾がかけてきたものだったのだ。彼らの担任であった上田遠子教諭が重い病気にかかって死にかけていることを知り、水樹はひさしぶりに帰郷することを決める。それが消息のわからなくなっている信也を再び意識するきっかけにもなるのである。切れてしまった過去の糸を再びつなぎ合わせる試みが、そこから始まる。

 幼少期の幸せな世界をそのまま大人になるまで維持できる人は少ないはずだ。時間が人と環境を変えていく。水樹の世界も高校卒業を期に大きく変化した。彼女だけではなく、人の過去というものはそうした形でいくつものピースに細分されているのである。それをつなぎ合わせていったときに見える景色を、作者は物語の終わりに準備している。

 過去が現在を賦活するという小説は多く書かれている。しかし作者は、安易に過去を呼び込もうとしない。来た道を振り返ればいいという単純なことではないからだ。自分が落としてきたもの、忘れていたことを思い出す作業の大切さが本書には誠実に書かれている。そのことに私は好感を抱いた。

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