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Across A Bridge Of Dreams [Hardcover]

Lesley Downer
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: £14.99
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

In the brave new Japan of the 1870s, Taka and Nobu meet as children and fall in love; but their relationship will test the limits of society.

Unified after a bitter civil war, Japan is rapidly turning into a modern country with rickshaws, railways and schools for girls. Commoners can marry their children into any class, and the old hatred between north and south is over - or so it seems.

Taka is from the powerful southern Satsuma clan which now dominates the country, and her father, General Kitaoka, is a leader of the new government. Nobu, however, is from the northern Aizu clan, massacred by the Satsuma in the civil war. Defeated and reduced to poverty, his family has sworn revenge on the Satsuma.

Taka and Nobu's love is unacceptable to both their families and must be kept secret, but what they cannot foresee is how quickly the tables will turn. Many southern samurai become disillusioned with the new regime, which has deprived them of their swords, status and honour. Taka's father abruptly leaves Tokyo and returns to the southern island of Kyushu, where trouble is brewing.

When he and his clansmen rise in rebellion, the government sends its newly-created army to put them down. Nobu and his brothers have joined this army, and his brothers now see their chance of revenge on the Satsuma. But Nobu will have to fight and maybe kill Taka's father and brother, while Taka now has to make a terrible choice - between her family and the man she loves ...

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Across A Bridge Of Dreams + The Courtesan and the Samurai + The Samurai's Daughter
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0593066820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593066829
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"...a really good novel, suffused with the atmosphere of Japan in the late 19th century - when westernising influences were beginning to penetrate its traditional culture - and populated with believable characters, whose fates are not settled until the last few suspenseful pages... Lesley Downer has finally hit the bullseye as a novelist."--Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator

"Tensions between modernity and tradition, love and death, duty and desire are powerfully drawn against the backdrop of an era hurtling towards it's inevitable end."--Times Literary Supplement

"A magnificent, sweeping tale of love and war in nineteenth century Japan. No-one writes about Japan with more mastery of historical and cultural detail than Lesley Downer. I was enthralled by this wonderful novel"--Katie Hickman

"This tale of a forbidden love, set during the era of the Last Samurai, completely captivated me. I was swept along by Taka and Nobu's struggle to be together in the face of family opposition, social difference and, ultimately, war. The world of the book - 1870s Japan - is vividly evoked. But most of all this is a compelling and intensely romantic story, beautifully told"--Isabel Wolff

"Against the backdrop of civil war, Lesley Downer has created a rich epic of love, confusion and loyalty. Her deep knowledge, powers of description and meticulous attention to detail draws us into the hopes and fears of 19th Century Japan in such way that you will taste the food, watch the fashions, smell the streets and live through the personal tumult of a society on the edge of change. With Across a Bridge of Dreams, Ms Downer shows she is a writer at the very top of her game"--Humphrey Hawksley

Book Description

Based on the true story of the 'last samurai', Across a Bridge of Dreams is an epic tale of love and war, of a nation divided and a love that can never be.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Japan during the 1870's is a cultural melting pot. Unified after a bitter civil war, it is becoming a modern country; commoners can marry their children into any class, there are railways, rickshaws and schools for girls. It would seem that the hatred between North and South is finally over, but the bitter rivalry between the Southern Satsuma clan, and the Northern Aizu clan still rages on.
This book tells the story of Taka, the privileged daughter of a Satsuma general's second family, and Nobu, a poor Aizu samurai; who meet as children, then fall in love, something which is unacceptable to both families, and must be kept secret. `Across a Bridge of Dreams' begins when the Satsuma clan is ruling the country, but all things change as the northern clansmen rise in rebellion and the government is sent crashing down. Nobu joins the army, and he and his brothers seek revenge upon the Satsuma. But this means that Nobu will have to fight and possibly kill Taka's father and brother. Taka will have to make a choice between her family and the man she loves.
I am not familiar with Japanese history, but Lesley Downer brings the period to life. Hierarchy and culture are observed with fascinating attention to detail; in particular the life of the geishas, their rituals and dress, and the living conditions of different strata of society. We see the influence of the Western world beginning to make itself felt in Tokyo, and how traditional life carries on in the country side. This book felt like an oriental version of `Gone with the Wind', but with a happier conclusion. There was a chance here for the author to have delivered a shock ending, which in some ways might have been more fitting, given the state of the country and the war at that time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wealth of Feelings and Experiences 4 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The magic of Leslie Downer's writing is hard to describe. There is a directness about the reading experience that makes me feel I am right there with her characters, living in them, in fact, living their lives with them. Every fictional book she writes is based on deep and extensive research into the history of Japan, and each story fits appropriately within whatever was actually going on in the culture at that time. But her research is not just something 'intellectual' and remote. In an early nonfiction book, 'On the Narrow Road,' which is about a journey she made in search of a 17th Century poet's life, she says, "what I was after was not history, not information, but something more amorphous and more alive -- to get under the skin of this place and thus somehow to get close to Basho himself." This is, I believe, the source of that astonishing immediacy in her fiction. She is a real master. Like her other novels, this one is a masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Based on the true story of the 'last sumurai' this novel is the unashamedly romantic tale of Taka and Nobu, two young people from opposing clans, who fall in love and face bitter opposition from their families and from society.

It is the 1870s and, after a brutal civil war between the north and the south of the country, Japan is now becoming more modern and keen to adopt some of the ideas from the western world: railways, schools for girls, western dress and even certain items of western food are becoming more common. Ideas about class and status are supposed to be shifting and the hatred between the north and the south is purported to be over, or at least that is the official line, but the reality is somewhat different.

Taka is the young daughter of General Kitaoka, from the powerful southern Satsuma clan, her mother is the General's geisha concubine; Nobu is an Aizu from the defeated north and a servant in Taka's family's household. Both teenagers, Nobu and Taka become friendly and when Taka notices that Nobu is intelligent but not fully educated, she decides to help him by sharing with him the things she is learning at school. However, knowing that Taka's family would strongly disapprove of their friendship, Nobu's lessons must take place in secret, and this stolen time together makes their liaison both exciting and precious. When Taka's older brother, Eijiro, discovers them together, he becomes violently angry and throws Nobu out onto the streets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very good read 25 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author writes very knowledgeably on the subject of Japan and the characters and the setting really come to life. I have read other books by Lesley Downer and have enjoyed them also. This story is set around the Satsuma Rebellion in Japan and is a love story which is by turns amusing, exciting, happy and tragic. It is well written and hard to put down. I would recommend it very highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Made Vivid 21 Dec 2012
Lesley Downer knows her stuff. Before turning to fiction, she wrote a shelf of deeply researched and highly engaging nonfiction on Japan, covering everything from poetic past to the neon present. Indulging her passion for the fascinating period of mid-nineteenth-century transition in Japan, she creates vivid fictional characters that embody the turmoil of a turbulent time--while still grounding her gripping storytelling in highly detailed fact. There's no better way to be introduced to a remarkable and often overlooked moment in history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Condition
It was disappointing that in the description of the book on the website it did not address the worn dust cover nor the slanted spine. Read more
Published 5 months ago by GJR
5.0 out of 5 stars MIsleading!
This book is the same as 'The Samurai's Daughter' by the same author, but under a different title! It was most disappointing when I opened the cover!
Published 11 months ago by Zsuzsanna
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book is Well worth reading. Set in the 1800's this love story will keep you interested from start to finish.
Published 16 months ago by JDW
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it
I am about half way through this book and I love it. It takes you back to the samuri times which I adore.
Published 19 months ago by Barbara
2.0 out of 5 stars Across A Bridge of Deams
Did not like the style of writing and was disappointed with the contents. Delivery was excellent, perhaps I was deceived by the title.
Published 22 months ago by D. S. Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Across a Bridge of Dreams - Love and war
This is a story of both love and war in the Japan of the 1870s. It was a time of cultural and political change that resulted in inevitable social divisions. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. C. Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book!
A tale of love across two very different clans set in Japan in the 1870s. I don't know very much about Japan or its culture, but this book was a pleasure to read. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Helen126
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese Love
I know absolutely nothing of japanes culture or its history, so I was v ewry interested to pick up this book and see what it evoked. Read more
Published on 8 Oct 2012 by lizzie
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating novel set in nineteenth century Japan
Across a Bridge of Dreams is the first novel that I have read which is set in nineteenth century Japan. It follows Nobu and Taka who meet as teenagers in Tokyo. Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2012 by Sarah
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