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The Pure Land (Paperback) Paperback – 7 Jun 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (7 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841959596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841959597
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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.'

Daily Mail

'Astonishing in its breadth, depth and ambition . . . a beautifully written modern epic.'

Irish Independent

Winner of the Glenfiddich Award

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The book is certainly exciting - or at least it coveys a sense of excitement and adventure of the ninenteenth century which has probably lost to us. But I could not continue reading, most likely because I am Japanese and there are so many little things in the story that have troubled me. The Japanese characters in the book keep saying 'hai, sodesu'. Well, this is what the Japanese might have said to the occupying Americans after WWII. People of the nineteenth century, certainly of the warrior class would not have spoken like this. While there were plenty of impoverished samurai around at that time, no daughter would be sent to a brothel without being cut off from the family, and the depiction of the first wife therefore is very unconvincing. I also sensed a hint of orientalism in his depiction of Japanese women. Well, men are always men, and Western men remains Western, it seems. And I am always puzzled with the over-appreciation of of the influence of Buddhism in Japanese society, present and past, by Western authors - believe me, if you go around saying 'existence is suffering', you would not start a quasi-revolution to modernise/Westernise a country. However, if you are not familiar with Japanese history and society, perhaps this reads like a great story.
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Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book at the airport when I was looking for something to read to kill the waiting time, and what a find it was!

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".
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Format: Hardcover
As other reviews have suggested, this book does not appear to be a hugely faithful recreation of nineteenth century Japan. I am not an expert but there are several aspects that lack a ring of authenticity.
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Started in a friend's house so bought it on Kindle to finish it. Thought it an excellent read. Characters full of life. Felt I should look into this bit of history to find out more... but not done that yet!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed learning more of a very different culture, but not entirely comfortable with mix of fact and fiction.I recommend "The Three Bamboos"by Robert Standish for an impressive and memorable read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A compulsive read for the first 95% of the book but at the end it meanders and seems not to know how to close. That was disappointing. However the main body of the book moves along at a decent pace with plenty of plot although it is perhaps rather too easy to see where that is going on many occasions. I'm not too fond of the author's over-reliance on dream imagery but that's just a personal thing.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me just start by saying, this book is long! I admit I had high hopes after reading Memoirs of a Geisha and thought this may be along a similar wave length. In many ways it is. You follow the life of one man and see how his and other lives around him change after a life changing move to Japan.

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!
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