The Pure Land (Paperback) Paperback – 7 Jun 2007
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His imagination is given full rein but this never clouds his instinctive understanding of the contradictions of the human condition. It is a glorious finale to a very fine novel. (Sunday Herald)
Edinburgh writer Spence, whose accolades include Scottish Writer of the Year in 1995, tells how in 1858 Glover left Aberdeenshire for Nagasaki, where he went on to build a business empire and become a key figure in Japan's industrialisation. (Financial Times)
From the Back Cover
A modern epic
A heart-breaking love story
An unforgettable journey of the spirit
The year is 1858. Thomas Glover is a restless young man with dreams of escape. Abandoning his childhood sweetheart, he takes a posting as a trader in Japan. Within ten years he earns a great fortune, learns the ways of the Samurai and helps to overthrow the Shogun.
Yet beneath his astonishing success lies a man cut to the heart by an affair with a beautiful courtesan, a lover who, unknown to Glover, would bear him a son.
'Not merely an engaging and vivid historical novel, but also a meditative work of art that is as finely honed as a Samurai's sword.'
John Burnside, The Times
'Rattles along, grounded in historical research and filled with emotional truths.'
'Astonishing in its breadth, depth and ambition . . . a beautifully written modern epic.'
Winner of the Glenfiddich AwardSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is set at the time a little prior to Tom Cruise's "The Last Samurai". Thomas Glover was a young clerk from Aberdeen, who grabbed the opportunity to work in the newly "opened" Japan in mid 19th century. Now this must have been an interesting time and place to be for an ambitious young man such as he. Since the Opium War in 1840 in neighbouring China, old fasioned Samurais are forced to come to terms that the mideval Japan is in no position to compete with the colonial West, who are eagerly anticipating to runsack and profeteer from Japan also. Civil war ensues, a country divided with those who want to rid themselves of the foreigners, and those who wish to modernise.
Glover throws himself into this world, makes friends and foes, advances himself from a mere clerk to a formidable man of influence who helps Japan become a modern nation, and still manages to find himself some pleasure and comfort in this strange land.
This is based on a true story and you will find his old home on a hill top which is now a museum in Nagasaki to comemorate his achievements. I have visited the place many times but without knowing the true nature of his success until I read the book, and it really made this most interesting bit of history alive to me. I look forward to the cinematisation of this story as promised on the author's note at the end of the book.
Minor criticism is that while the historical events seems mostly accurate, the Japanese conversation seems only a little improved version of that of "Shogun".Read more ›
This is a great shame because it is otherwise a very entertaining book. The era is fascinating and the story is mostly very well done. There are a number of interesting and well-developed characters, although less so on the Japanese side if I'm honest.
So, in essence, a good page-turner if you can just overlook a few flaws.
Thomas Glover is, of course, a real character from the time when Japan was opening up after centuries of being a closed society and the tales related of those times in the narrative are both compelling and - to a great extent - accurate.
I did skim read the odd paragraph that gave the details of the battles and war. And there were a couple of occaisions that I thought I couldn't be bothered to finish it. However I pushed on and was so glad I did by the end.
Read this if you are up for a long haul read!
You are transported at times to far off places and will want to know where the charcaters lives lead. But at times it may feel like watching the T.V show 'lost'. You want to know how it ends but are not sure you can be bothered with the journey.
If you start it, I recommend finishing it. It is worth the journey when you get there!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found it fascinating, it may have historical discrepancies here and there, but what a read.Published 18 months ago by L. Cockburn
Good, interesting story. Well written and an engaging read.I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about interesting and different life experiences.Published on 16 Nov. 2013 by Barbara Hatton
This is an excellent docu-drama about Thomas Blake Glover a very complex character who lived in Japan in the 19th century. Read morePublished on 11 Dec. 2011 by Northstar
This beautifully written novel tells Thomas Glover's story in such a way that the reader's attention is held to the very last word. Read morePublished on 25 Aug. 2011 by Rachael
Very interesting book describing the customs and the life in Japan before industry was developed in the country. Very well written and easy to read. Excellent. Read morePublished on 11 Jan. 2010 by Dr. Milena Sinclair
I thought this book was very entertaining with characters you wanted to know. The plot was exciting and romantic, set in a fascinating time. Read morePublished on 28 Aug. 2009 by W. Johnston
A boring slog of a read lacking in both action and interest. Unconvincing and showing little grasp of Japanese culture in the 1860's.Published on 18 April 2009 by Tome Raider
It was great to be able to read a review on this book by a Japanese. I hope she/he does not mind if I use her view on this book for our book club for which we are reading this... Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2009 by M. K. Brewster