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Snow Falling on Cedars [Paperback]

David Guterson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 July 2009
In 1954 a fisherman is found dead in the nets of his boat, and a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder. In the course of his trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memories grow as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries - memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and a Japanese girl; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (6 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140880140X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408801406
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This is classic whodunnit territory but Guterson's fiercely intelligent and moving novel is far more than a murder mystery ... Guterson has written a novel about the human condition that marvellously combines tenderness and excitement' The Times 'A skilfully constructed, deeply affecting story of love and death ... This is a hugely attractive book, written in clipped elegant prose' Sunday Times 'Compelling ... a flawlessly written first novel' New York Times 'Love and morality are beautifully choreographed into an exceptional debut novel' Daily Mail

From the Back Cover

San Piedro Island in Puget Sound is a place so isolated that no-one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese-American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.

In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries – memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and a Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memories of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched.

Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, 'Snow Falling On Cedars' is a masterpiece of suspense – but one that leaves us shaken and changed.

"Luminous…a beautifully assured and full-bodied novel that becomes a tender examination of fairness and forgiveness…Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true."
PICO IYER, 'Time'.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, immersive and well written gem. 9 Sep 2010
By Chris L TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I have read this book a number of times now and, despite knowing the ending, never get tired of it.

Set on a small US fishing Island off Seattle it deals with a mixed community containing a number of japanese settlers. The period is the Second World War and the aftermath.

Prior to the war the community is fairly settled with it's staple outputs of logging, strawberry farming (using lots of immigrant japanese labour) and fishing. It features the parallel lives of two boys who grew up on the Island - Carl Heine a European Immigrant and Kabuo Miyamoto a Japanese Immigrant. Both move away to fight during the war (for the US) and both return damaged to an extent. The book starts as Carl Heine's body is discovered (I am not giving anything away here, this is revealed on page one) and tracks back over time to draw a picture of the circumstances running up to his death.

The author, David Guterson, does a lovely job of weaving a storyline of different lives and themes such as love, betrayal, war, racial hatred and upheaval set against a charming small island/town mentality. For example the descriptive passages dealing with the loneliness of fishing at night are simply excellent and this holds true throughout the book.

It is also a book that in many ways defys genre. I think pretty much anyone who enjoys a good book will like it. From the moment it starts it welcomes you in and pulls you through the trials and tribulations of the main charactors in an immersive and endearing way. The author deals with the key themes superbly.

I strongly suggest that if you have not read it you do so and allow it to wash over you. I don't think you will regret it and I think you will thouroughly enjoy it.

I hope this review was of use to you:)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I took a chance on this one 17 Dec 2009
By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Not my usual genre of reading I have to admit, but I promised myself I would read at least 5 novels I usually wouldn't bother with this year- and I'm glad that this was one of them.

The novel centres around an alleged murder on a tiny Island off Puget Sound- a fisherman is found dead on his boat out at sea and a local Japanese fisherman is blamed for his death... Unfortunate when you consider that this is set in the years following Pearl Harbour and a degree of racism is still trite in the community- particularly amongst the victim's family.

The book itself was hard to put down, though a little wordy in places on some of the descriptions. It was atmospheric and moving and you quickly find yourself getting involved in the narrative and becoming caught up in the `community' of fictional San Piedro and just wondering if the suspect really is guilty or not. The `courtroom' aspects of the novel evoked just the right amount of suspense too- overall an enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great love story 4 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This novel deals with the treatment of Japanese Americans during WW2 and its aftermath. It focuses on the relationship between a white man, Ishmael and his former lover, Hatsue who is Japanese. Hatsue's husband (who is also Japanese) is charged with a murder that many people think is related to a past feud between the white and Japanese communities. Ishmael is caught between uncovering this murder mystery for his newspaper and his feelings for Hatsue. This is a great love story and mystery at the same time. I highly recommend this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric 16 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
I studied this novel for a module in my literature AS level. Before we studied it I read it twice and fell in love with it, the more we studied it the more i began to appreciate how Guterson has crafted the story to deeply engage and involve the reader.I read the book now and I can feel the weather, smell the scents and I love how Guterson has created this effect. I find the story to be full and well written, he's obvously done a tonne of research and the plot is brilliant.Our teacher wouldn't let us watch the film until we'd taken the exam.I wasn't disappointed.All the moodiness, the atmosphere, the chemistry had translated so well and the film remains to be one of the best I've seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 3 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great atmosphere could really imagine you were in the court room. Extremely well written, beautiful description of the snow and generally of the island. Made the reader aware of the plight of the American Japanese during the 2nd World War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable 3 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nice story which keeps you wondering to the end.
I never realised how many Japanese people were deported from different contries after Hiroshima!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 19 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had seen references to this book many times. Knew nothing about it but the title appealed to me. Really glad I purchased it. It is very well written and an interesting read which also informs. Don't need to go over the story but recommend it.

The film is also vey good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the 15 year wait 30 Jan 2013
By col2910
Format:Paperback
Blurb.......In 1954 a fisherman is found dead in the nets of his boat, and a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder. In the course of his trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memories grow as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries - memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and a Japanese girl; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched

I've had this on my bookshelf probably 15 years or so, ever since one of my sister's bought it for me as either a birthday or Christmas present. It was the sort of book that you went, hmmm that's nice, all the while thinking I'd have preferred socks. I have tried a couple of times over the intervening period to get into it, but it was always discarded after a chapter or two.

Anyway, this time with a new found resolve, to reduce the "stop-start-put aside" pile, I tried again.

Extremely glad I did, as it was well worth the effort.

I'm fairly sure this book appears on those lists of 100 best books or 100 books to read before you die type thing and did win the PEN/FAULKNER award for fiction in 1995.

Cutting to the chase, Guterson writes of a mixed community; American and Japanese-American still divided and struggling to deal with the aftermath of Pearl Harbour and the Second World War. The Japanese interned shortly after Pearl Harbour, losing everything and dependent on the goodwill of those more charitable neighbours who viewed them as friends and fellow Americans and not as an inscrutable Oriental enemy to be feared.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful portrait of a Community
Although outwardly a courtroom drama, this novel is really a description of the lives of a whole community of people living on a fishing and fruit-growing island near Seattle after... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Hfffoman
4.0 out of 5 stars Book for Book Group discussion
Arrived on time and was a good price - in plenty of time for me to read
and digest for my Book Group.
Published 7 days ago by Helen McLuckie
5.0 out of 5 stars David Guterson - Snow Falling on Cedars
Set in 1954 on a small fishing island, this is a gloriously immersive whodunnit. When a local fisherman is found dead in the nets of his boat suspicion is instantly cast to a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by molko
3.0 out of 5 stars author tried too hard
I felt this did not live up to its reputation. Although the plot and the characters were engaging I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by the description of the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by rh
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good read
This story really grips you. I have visited the area where it is set which may help but really worth a read
Published 7 months ago by Cottage Lady
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious
This is about a man on trial for murder and his relationship with the dead man. If it had taken a tenth of the time it did to say what happened it would still have been long drawn... Read more
Published 7 months ago by cherryred
5.0 out of 5 stars snow and secrets
I first read this when it first came out in paperback, 15 years ago? Realised the thing I remembered most vividly was the description of the physical surroundings - the court-room,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by blewburyfam
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read.
One of my favourite books which I am reading for a second time. The exploration of the history and culture is fascinating and underpins a well written murder mystery novel. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Silversurfer
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I did enjoy this book, but I did think it 'went on a bit', in places. In my opinion, it went into more background information than was necessary, quite often giving parents and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by GreenBlue
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written
A lovely piece of thought provoking literature. It did lose my interest at times, though, with the back stories, as it was very detailed
Published 11 months ago by Kerry-Anne
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