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37
4.8 out of 5 stars
The Samurai's Garden
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 1999
This book is, without a doubt, the most beautiful piece of writing I have ever read. On a literary note the writing is wonderful and the story is captivating. On an emotional level, the depths to which the author takes both you and her characters is fascinating.
Every year, my friends receive the book that has meant the most to me the previous year. This year, small, brown-paper wrapped SG's will be crossing the land.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 1999
Gail Tsukiyama's "The Samurai's Garden" is an extraordinarily moving tale about the transformation of human lives through pain and sadness to beauty and dignity. The movement of the language is like a soft focus picture coming into sharper focus. The author handles telling scenes so simply and poetically because they are universal themes of loss, longing, and of belonging to a community. Most vivid are Sachi's scene in the ocean with the other leprosy victims from her village, and the pearl diver story of Sachi's first caregiver, Michiko. With the latter, Michiko's life is revealed in 4 or 5 pages, and I was moved to tears by this character's remarkable selflessness, capacity to love, and faith in the goodness and rightness of things despite the horrendous disfiguring disease she suffered from. Gail Tsukiyama is a worthy successor to my favorite Japanese author, Yasunari Kawabata. Stephen's story is rendered warm and humane.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 1998
Reminiscent of fine Oriental art, the author of The Samurai's Garden has created an exquisite pre-WWII story about a young man and his companions. As the story begins, a young Chinese man is journeying to his family's seaside retreat in Japan for recovery from tuberculosis. Although quite simple on the surface, the story becomes more complex when the main character meets four local residents. The haunting tale of the three companions becomes a story within a story. Tsukiyama skillfully weaves a coming of age tale in which the young man's recovery parallels the seasons in the Japanese caretaker's garden. Repeated in several layers is the story of comflict, pain, and eventual growth in human relationships that result from the meeting of persons from two different cultures. Crystal clear descriptions of the seashore, the garden, the preparation of meals, and the beach house combined with the wonderful insight into the human condition make this a wonderful, peaceful reading experience!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 1998
With anticipation and dread, I rose each morning to read this book before my family woke and I had to prepare for the day ahead. As I opened the page where I had left off the morning before, I knew I would quickly be back in the Japanese village among gentle people who had silent histories I longed to hear. At the same time, however, I knew that to turn each page was to come closer to the end of the book. When that time arrived, the story finished on a gentle note; and tears came to my eyes - tears of joy mixed with tears of sadness. If you like a story that reminds you that there is still the faint scent of ecalyptus in the air if you slow down to savor the experience, this is the book for you. The words are simple and direct and full of beauty. You'll find yourself re-reading passages to keep you in the moment. The book is only 210 pages. I could have read a thousand more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 1998
Having read "Women of the Silk," I was so hoping that Gail Tsukiyama had written at least one other book. I loved "The Samurai's Garden," from start to finish. And like others, I too, hung back to savor each word as I watched with dread the end of the story draw nigh. I lent it to a friend who called from her vacation to share her joy and love of this wonderful story. The imagery is superb... the descriptions are flawless. I can smell the eucalyptus and feel the skin of Sachi. I can't wait for my friend to return so that I can read again The Samurai's Garden. Thank you, Gail Tsukiyama, for the gift of a beautiful story. May you be inspired to continue to share your obvious treasure of story telling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2006
I read this book several years ago and it has stayed in my mind ever since. The story begins shortly before World War 2 with a Chinese man who is sent to recover from tuberculosis at his family's summer home in Japan.There he meets a beautiful Japanese girl and three other characters, and the tale that unfolds is so captivating and heartfelt that I was swept along with it. At one point I actually gasped out loud with sorrow, at others I smiled with delight. My teenage daughter and her friends all also enjoyed this book and her Japanese teacher added it to her reading list of recommendations for the students. This is an enchanting book that I will keep forever on my bookshelves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 1997
Have you ever read something that was so delicious that you couldn't stand for it to end, yet you had to devour every word and page? That is this book. The characters are gently unveiled and explained as if the reader were the one to meet the character. We do not get to see inside the head of the character, only to see and hear what the 'narrator' sees and hears.

The story is about the beauty of human relationships in the midst of tragedy - so be prepared for some low moments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 1999
Although the book is set in a rural Japanese village during the late 1930's, it still paints a portrait of Japan as it exists today in many rural areas. I was able to feel the places she writes about, to smell the sea, to taste the food, to feel the soft wood as I took a hot bath in the outside garden. It is a poignant, beautifully written story about strength in the face of adversity and an enduring love. I would recommend it to anyone as a book to remember always.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2009
This is a beautifully written tale about a Hong Kong Chinese boy sent to Japan in the 1930's to convalesce after a bout of tuberculosis. The simplicity of the story and the economy of the language used helps the reader to focus on the profound nature of the events described.
The characters are well drawn and even though some of the events that unfold are tragic and arise from human weakness, it left me with a positive and uplifting view of human nature.
There is an interesting contrast between the gentle unfolding of the tale and the politeness of the lead characters, with the momentous, tragic and even violent events in people's lives. I knew little of the relationship between Japanese and Chinese cultures in the period immediately before the Second World War, and this book helped me to gain useful insights.
I would heartily recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 1999
I enjoyed this book because it is well paced, and the plot and characters develop with sufficient intrigue to make you keep reading. I enjoy cross-cultural settings so that was a very strong plus for me in this work. The backdrop of war and leprosy provide ample scope for some quite emotive and poignant moments, and I found myself provoked into reflection from time to time. I thought that the father and Keiko could have had stronger character development in order to create more tension in the outcome. The style was not sophisticated, but very effective. Satisfying.
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