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Blossoms and Shadows Paperback – 29 Mar 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (29 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857382985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857382986
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A thoroughly researched historical novel, and an important book' bookgroup.info. (bookgroupinfo)

From the Back Cover

1857.
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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This novel is set in Japan, in the final years (1857-67) of the Tokugawa regime. This was a turbulent period (immediately before the Meiji Restoration of 1868) when Japan's feudal society was under pressure both internally (as a consequence of famine, epidemic and feudal wars) and externally (from nations of the west).

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.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read this if you enjoy recent japanese history, but not really for its qualities as a novel. There was a good running story line that was imaginative and held the plot together, but the historical aspects were quite hard to follow, particularly with the multiple japanese location and character names. I guess it would be difficult to do the period justice without this detail, but it made the book rather disjointed and a bit heavy going. Lian Hearn can't be faulted for her depth of research though, and the writing is good quality as always.
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Having read and thoroughly enjoyed several Lian Hearn novels this one came as a huge disappointment. The writing is characteristically detailed but for me painfully slow and far, far too long. I found it like reading a tedious diary, I soldiered on as I hate to 'give up' on any book but I was SO glad to reach the end.
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!
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, more so than The Tales of the Otori series. It's a long book, but I felt that it warranted the number of pages contained and it never felt tedious in my opinion.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
By the same author as the Otori series. Not the same as this is an historical novel set around the time of the Meiji restoration. It is a good book from which you can learn about a period of Japanese history with which you may not be familiar but explains many of the attitudes of the Japanese hierarchy which led, in many ways, to WW2. However I think the author struggles with writing historical figures and there is a feeling that she is very constrained by the history. You never quite buy-in to any of the characters in terms of caring about them, excepting perhaps the main female character. However you sometimes feel her life is shaped by having to be in a particular place so that the historical event there can be written about, rather than because she actually lived a life. Worth a read, but not her best.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the Otori trilogy and bought this expecting more of the same. It's written in her usual, beautiful style but I did not care about the protagonists as much because the plot keeps flying off on tangents into other characters lives. Some of the events are quite complicated to follow although quite rich with detail. It was, dare I say it, a bit boring. I gave up 1/3rd of the way in and have moved on to a different book now.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Had read the tales of the Otori and wanted more from the same author. This is different more historical fiction than tale less romance more facts but totally enjoyable. The historical background blends very well with the fictional characters. I also enjoyed all the Japanese-ness of the writing whereby the author included many words of Japanese a little hard to read at times but all the more enjoyable. At some point I noticed the narrative slowing down but when I checked I was the last few pages. So sad to have finished it now.
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.
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