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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, immersive and well written gem.
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...
Published on 9 Sept. 2010 by Chris

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad I took a chance on this one
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...
Published on 17 Dec. 2009 by Nicola F (Nic)


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, immersive and well written gem., 9 Sept. 2010
By 
Chris (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (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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6 of 6 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) (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great love story, 4 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful portrait of a Community, 14 April 2014
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 the second world war. It is full of minute observation that suggests it is either thoroughly researched or the author knows the place intimately. Reading it gave me a very satisfying feeling of being in touch with the universal humanity of the many different interconnected lives it traces.

I rarely read courtroom dramas or watch courtroom films. They are nearly always too simplistic and one-sided. This one is even-handed so you can understand and appreciate the position of all the different people involved.

I recommend the audio version. The reading is, sensitive, gentle and a decent rendition of the different dialogue voices.
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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 (Bedfordshire,UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (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.

A truncated mixed race and clandestine teenage love story, which along with a land-deal that gets reneged on when the Japanese-Americans are interned, festers over the years in the hearts and minds of the protagonists.

Guterson explores racism and discrimination both from an institutional level with a large swage of the Japanese community unable to legally become landowners and on an individual basis where neighbour mistrusts neighbour because of the happenings of the previous ten years.

With a fisherman found dead in his nets, and a cursory investigation leading to his Japanese childhood friend, who was supposedly at loggerheads with him over the previously lost land, the murder trial allows the resentments and grievances of the past to resurface.

Guterson's writing is very descriptive and he brings the plot slowly to the boil, rather than providing a fast paced read. The sense of isolation on the island when the storm gathers is palpable.

Usually one of my yardsticks of measuring enjoyment from a book is to ask myself if I want to read more from the author. In this case, probably not, having read a selection of his short stories either late last year, or earlier on in this one. No particular reason why - maybe too many other books to consider.

Still very well written and enjoyable though,

4 from 5......not such a bad present from my sister after all!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MEMORABLE BOOK, 12 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (Paperback)
After trying to read "The Shipping News" and giving up - this book was a massive relief and antidote.

It is full of rich description and beautiful writing. The characterisation is also excellent for example Etta Heine jumps out of the pages: her mean spirit - a character as hard as flint - with little compassion - all brilliantly conveyed; so many of the characters are expertly drawn.

There is a very compelling story in the book with a series of subplots - dipping between the past and the present. However, I did feel that the writer had not mastered the art of holding and developing suspense and of maintaining pace. I found myself feeling let down and disappointed as the author built a certain level of tension (in the Court room for example) and then dropped it to turn to another and often mundane scene - it was quite frustrating. I could not imagine Scot Turrow would have lost the rhythm so much.

I did feel there was a little too much weather and scenery description - it was wonderfully described but to jump from the court room to the weather was a little disappointing. For example- the judge calls both lawyers into his room for a chat - and I am relishing the ensuing scene - but instead of going there the author takes us to Ishmael and the countryside - I felt so let down.

But enough of the criticism - this was a wonderful and evocative book - which I thoroughly enjoyed and i loved the story. There were so many tender moments between some of the characters which were very moving. The under-theme of broken dreams and restoration was triumphantly dealt with along with the restoration of relations between the Japanese and American communities.

I also loved the way the author dealt with the characters in detail and introduced us to their histories and their lives - he then puts them on the stand in court - and we see them in a totally different light; this was masterful.

The coroner's descriptions were extremely interesting and educational.

This was a very good book that will live in my memory for a long time to come.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, 16 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Snow Falling on Cedars, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (Paperback)
Have read this at least three times now. This time it was the effect of war on islanders that made a strong impression , the silence that enclosed them that paralleled the reticence that was an essential part ot the character of the Japanese families. There is a mother discussion that explains their attitude towards their behaivours,. their way of looking at the world and the huge gap that separates them from the ego driven Americans. Even in the dock, the jurors cannot read the peron being triedwhose impssive dignity is is integral to his demeanor in this terrible position he finds himself. One feels that this would have been maintained even if death was his punishment.
Though already aware of how the Japanese were treated during the war, I hadn't really thought about those people who were native Germans or Italians who were not scapegoated , plucked from their homes and incarcerated. Appearance must have had some persuasive power in deciding their place in a country at war. They could be read by looking at them. The Japanese could not.
Could go on and on about the structure of the book, the doomed relations between the damaged Ishmael and hisadred Hatsue, the contrasting mothers, the so different lawyers and the island itself as a microcosm of greater world. I enjoyed it on this my third reading and will probably read it again
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning, 21 Feb. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (Paperback)
Not only a fantastic thriller which will keep you guessing right 'til the last page, but one into which Guterson manages to weave a complex and gentle lesson on morality, a heart-breaking love story, and a study of the prejudices of an insulated community. Snow Falling on Cedars is written in a distant understated style which reflects the author's desire not to judge any of his characters, but rather to know them and understand their actions, and as such, comes across as a beautiful, poetic, yet utterly plausible story. Guterson's landscape is unforgiving, but it is one with which he is so obviously at one, that every page bursts with a vibrant authenticity which captivates the reader. This book works on every level imaginable, it is simply stunning.
If you liked To Kill A Mockingbird, I fully recommend this title.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Romanticising the exotic easterner, 18 Sept. 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (Paperback)
Guterson's novel is about events following Pearl Harbour when America entered the war in earnest and thousands of Japanese Americans were interred in camps to prevent them giving aid to the enemy. The tiny island of San Piedro on the far western edge of North America, with strawberry farming and fishing boats, banked by forests of cedar trees and a harbour, provides the setting.

The plot is a mixture of love story and murder trial: a Japanese man is accused of murdering an American and the background of recent war and incipient prejudice conspire to ensure the trial is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust.

This is a competently-written, sometimes lyrically descriptive book, with an epic feel. The characters are life-like and well-developed, except there is a strange `Zen' effect of rarefied dignity in depicting the Japanese characters that doesn't always ring true and suggests some romanticism of the exotic easterner on the part of the writer. Nevertheless this is an atmospheric novel, tackling its subject well.
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Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (Turtleback - Jun. 1995)
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