Blossoms and Shadows Paperback – 29 Mar 2012
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'A thoroughly researched historical novel, and an important book' bookgroup.info. (bookgroupinfo)
From the Back Cover
For centuries, Japan has been on its own; isolated by choice from the rest of the world. But the Western powers are now at its shores, its government is crumbling and revolution is building. The age of the samurai is ending and in its place a new Japan will be born.
Into this turmoil steps a young woman. Despite her secret ambition to become a doctor, Tsuru still expects to marry a man of her father's choosing, but her life is overtaken by the beliefs of the new age. Surrounded by young men, fighting for their Emperor to expel the foreigners, and caught up in the politics of these turbulent times, she will be forced to make some difficult choices. When war comes, Tsuru's struggle to be treated as an equal will take her onto the battlefields...
Blossoms and Shadows is a compelling and beautiful tale of love and war, women and me, and the rise of modern Japan.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel opens in 1857, and involves both fictional and historical characters. Our narrator is the fictional Tsuru, a young woman who is a member of a doctor's family. Because doctors were generally an exception to the rigid class structures then in place, Tsuru had more opportunities to observe and participate in events than would usually have been the case for a woman. This makes her an interesting narrator of the events that unfold.
`These are the men my story is about. It is they who broke down the old world and reformed the nation I now live in, with their dreams and delusions, their courage and stupidity, their unexpected successes and their painful failures.'
We first meet Tsuru on the day of her sister's wedding, and it quickly becomes clear that Tsuru sees a different role for herself: one that is not in any sense traditional. Tsuru dreams of practising medicine, as an equal, alongside her father and then her husband. Tsuru's story is interesting, but it is the story of Japan at this time that most held my interest.
There is a lot of historical detail in this novel and, for me at least, the characters became secondary to the events. This made reading the novel a bit of a challenge at times: there are a lot of different characters involved and it wasn't always easy to remember where each one fitted into the narrative.
My wife however has been reading it and really liking it which just goes to show book reviews aren't really much help! - I think though this is perhaps one for the ladies!
However, I agree with the other reviews that there are too many characters going in and out of the story which makes it confusing. The story is peppered with a great amount of historical and cultural information, but I loved this as I love history and I also love Japan. It's a must read for a history buff or a lover of Japan. The excellent story more than makes up for any flaws.
I also enjoyed the writer's focus on gender differences at that time in Japan. I don't want to give the plot away so I will say no more.
I'm looking forward to Lian Hearn's next book.
If Lian Hearn captured you with her style in the Otori tales and you have an interest in Japanese history then this book is for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very hard book to follow although informative. Not as good as her previous books.Published 23 days ago by pam
I absolutely love her series of books, it is a great subject written about so well for adults or teens. The only problem that I have is I have read them all and want more!Published 19 months ago by reviewmum1
Not at the level of her excellent previous novels in spite of her very good proposition: a woman in last century Japan who tries out being a man in a changing world.Published on 8 Mar. 2014 by MS V Rosenberg
this whole series is written for children but fully engages the adult reader. I could not put it down and ordered the next book in the series immediately.Published on 10 Jan. 2014 by bev 19