In Haruki Murakami’s epic novel, 1Q84, the lives of two young adults, Tengo and Aomame, and teen-ager Fuka-Eri are entwined and pulled apart in ways that only a master storyteller could contrive. But it is the character of Shizue Ogata – also known as the Dowager – that caught my imagination. A wealthy and powerful woman at the waning of her life, she uses her accumulated wealth to establish a safe house for abused women and children… as well as using her extensive resources and influence to exact justice for battered women who have been abandoned by the system. Cool, regal, intelligent and thorough, the chapters between the Dowager and Aomame are uniquely powerful. It is because she is at the end of her life and has little to fear that she can move with such conviction, and her years of experience have made her virtually impenetrable. This frail yet steely, silver haired woman is a fascinating character that may not take on much action herself, but definitely is the catalyst for much that happens in this complex and intriguing book.