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East Wind Melts the Ice Hardcover – 5 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (5 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701181044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701181048
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 771,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"I have never come across a book so eccentric, elegiac and yet
still compulsive. It calms, quietens, transports and, ultimately, restores
hope that true beauty does not lie in wealth, material acquisition or
celebrity, but in the natural world." -- Daily Telegraph, April 21, 2007

'Deeply pleasing book.'
-- Good Housekeeping

'article by Liza in the travel section, credits book' -- New Statesman

'makes us feel we're seeing Japan from a language we
can follow' -- Pico Iyer, Time Magazine

`striking book... The result is a rich treat with something to
relish on every page'
-- Good Book Guide

From the Publisher

By the author of the bestselling Geisha and Take of Murasaki, a record of nature, passing seasons and a memoir, this beautiful journal of a year is a window into gardening - eastern and western -, Japanese customs and a life lived between two cultures.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was Liza Dalby's fictional novel about the life of the great Heian writer, Murasaki Shikibu, that got me utterly fixed on Japanese poetry, court diaries and culture. As soon as I saw that she had written another book, I did not hesitate to buy it. For anyone interested in nature, changing seasons and Japanese culture, this is the perfect book.

Dalby has taken the form of an ancient Chinese almanac in order to create her book, examining how the 72 units of the year are broken down and why. The title for my review is the title for the unit October 11 through to October 15th (the time I wrote this review). Dalby first gives a small paragraph explaining why such comments may be made, and then she compares them to Japanese life aswell as her life in America. What this creates is an original memoir, drawing upon inspiration from personal anecdote, inspiration from nature along with references to literature and examples of Japanese haiku.

I loved this memoir - it is certainly a book that I shall keep and treasure, returning to it some time in the future. As a lover of nature and literature, it was just perfect for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
East Wind Melts The Ice 15 Nov. 2007
By Helene Knott - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been looking for a written chronicle of the Asian Monthly Ordinances since I first read a reference to this calendar in Liza Dalby's other book 'The Tale Of Murasaki' (which I might add, is also an excellent read). As an artist whose work is greatly influenced by Asian art, I find the aesthetics of this Farmer's Almanac style calender very inspirational and Liza Dalby's explanation and interpretation of the individual calendar entries weaves a virtual tapestry of beautiful imagery and ceremony along with historical references that help to understand the Asian culture more thoroughly. When I first heard of this book, I ordered it from the Public Library but within the first few pages, realized that borrowing it would not do, I had to buy a copy to add to my own personal library of art and reference books.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Keeping track of the seasons 8 Mar. 2010
By Bernard Kwan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been a great inspiration to me, and I started doing the same thing as Liza by tracking the periods of the year in my blog. By doing so it has made me more attentive to the seasons and the passing of the year, seeing the poetry in every moment (for instance I had never noticed before when exactly the plants began to put out new shoots in the spring), as well as being more present in my body as we feel the seasons change, with the corresponding effects on health, mood, etc.

But this book is in many ways more than an almanac, and represents an in depth view of Japanese culture, interspersed with the author's time in California it is able to ground and tie these differences for a western audience (comparing different species of goose or oranges or the climate). Instead of being a dry and academic evaluation of the peculiarities of Japanese, it is a series of anecdotes of Liza's time in Japan, especially of her time as a Geisha which gives a humanisitic view of traditional Japan from the inside, that allows us to empathize with how others may view things differently.

All in all a deeply sensitive description of how the seasons play such an integral part in Japanese culture in little things such as how the patterns of the kimono change with seasons, and how haiku contain certain seasonal words, and how the condiments and flowers change with the seasons for the tea ceremony. All this along with funny little anecdotes about the cold of Kyoto and toasing Mikan (japanese tangerines) on the radiator.

It is also a gardener's treasure trove, with stories of numerous plants and trees and their symbolism and how some of them have been transplanted to her garden in California.

Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Poetic 6 Nov. 2009
By Elizabeth Snell - Published on
Format: Paperback
I've always been a fan of Liza Dalby's work, and her historical novel Tale of Murasaki contained intriguing references to an ancient Chinese calendar that divided the year into 72 curiously-named seasons like "rainbows appear" and "tiger begins to roam".

Finally, we get all 72 seasons, along with Dalby's poetic reflective essays on each. She covers a breadth of material, from her geisha days in Kyoto to her gardening adventures at her current Bay Area home.

Her writing is calming and meditative but stimulates the imagination. I allowed myself to wallow in her world for hours at a time. Her reflections on Japanese and American culture are interesting, and she also has a lot of knowledge to share about the natural world. Read this book and be transported.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Meditative Gold! 25 Oct. 2011
By Stace - Published on
Verified Purchase
I found the book by chance in my local library. After reading it, I knew I had to own it.

Though American, Dalby has an intimate knowledge of Japanese culture unavailable to most. Her academic pursuits led her to be the first caucasian admitted into a geisha house to study and obtain a status of geisha. She was a consultant on the film "Memoirs of a Geisha", and has parlayed this knowledge into her two passions: gardening and Japanese culture.

The book contains daily essays, or I consider them meditations, that combine life experience, cultural connections, and seasonal passages parsed out in the japanese five season year. The lyrical names of the seasonal segments were enough to hook me into the book, but her musings made me know I wanted to own it and re-read it as my seasons changed.

I am not one to re-read books often, but this is a beautiful exception to the rule.

East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir through the Seasons
Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Used book in very good condition as advertised 7 Oct. 2014
By carmelareads - Published on
Format: Paperback
Used book in very good condition as advertised. A series of essays based on the seasons of the Chinese calendar with personal reflections.
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