Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Learn more Shop Men's Shop Women's

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 16 July 2013
I was really excited when I got a hold of this book. Great reviews and almost every aspect of the story something I'm really interested in. It even started off with a great few chapters that drag you in to what seems like becoming a really fascinating mystery. And then, about a hundred pages stops being all that and becomes a rather self-indulgent and depressing nothing.

I found there were too many strands to the story and that they just don't really come together in any satisfactory way. The main two are the lives of a Japanese teen (Nao) who writes a diary which is found by a woman living in Canada (Ruth). Nao's story is the more interesting and she is by far the more engaging character, but her diary seems to begin and end at what seem like fairly arbitrary points, while Ruth's story begins with her discovery of the diary and ends with her finishing her reading of it and is of very little interest, only serving to break up Nao's narrative.

With the exception of Nao's great grandmother who is an old nun, I can't say I really particularly liked any of the characters in the book. Nao's voice is very personable and refreshing (and is well maintained throughout) but it's not enough to carry her story, which is mainly about her suffering at the hands of (I felt highly exaggerated and unrealistic) bullies and her mostly passive observations of her suicidal father. Other characters appear and disappear simply, it seems, to help progress the plot and a mish-mash of pseudo-philosophical lessons are babbled by all and sundry.

I was especially bemused towards the end as aspects of quantum mechanics begin to be discussed to no discernible purpose and when the last scenes rather limply arrived, I had pretty much given up caring.
11 comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A work of great imagination, ingenuity and compassion, Ruth Ozeki's
fine novel 'A Tale For The Time Being' deploys a chance occurence to
examine the meaning of two parallel lives. The voice of Nao, a sixteen
year old Japanese girl, whose diary is found by Ruth, a writer, washed up
on the shore of her Vancouver Island home, rings clear and true across
both time and shifting tides. It is a moving and complex narrative in
which one woman's absorption in the words and thoughts of another involves
the reader by default as yet another participant in the unfolding drama.

A compelling story. I was intrigued and moved in equal measure.

Highly Recommended.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 October 2014
I loved this book. A Tale for the Time Being contains so much, its characters are so rich and yet the book maintains an easy pace, even when the pages contain complex information.

The story is built around two sets of characters based in two places and two different times. The primary characters are Ruth and Nao. Ruth lives in the present day on a remote Canadian island, with her partner, Oliver, and their cat. Ruth had been a successful writer in New York City but has since been struggling with writer's block. Nao is a Japanese teenager whose life has taken a turn for the worse. Her family had been enjoying the trappings of the dotcom boom in California but have been forced to return to Japan after the fortune, in every sense, took a downward turn.

The lives of Ruth and Nao cross after Ruth finds the Japanese girl's diary washed up on the island where she lives. In an effort to decide how it made its way across the ocean - was the diary pulled out to sea by the recent tsunami? - Ruth is drawn into Nao's life: her family's difficult adjustment after arriving back in Japan. Nao's diary also introduces Ruth to two more generations of the Japanese family's, an uncle who was reluctant soldier in the second world war and her grandmother -an anarchist feminist turned nun.

A Tale for the Time Being is a smart book, but it is also an easy book to read. The reader is treated to rich details about Japanese culture, language and history but in an effortless way. Fictional events within the book are woven with real contemporary events to create a beautifully layered story.

More than anything I loved the tone of the book. The characters are so compelling because their dialogue is so realistic and their problems so believable. Their dialogue is so interesting too, like listening to an interesting guest who is exceptionally erudite yet can communicate the ideas in a way that is easy to comprehend. For example, the book contains musings on Proust an quantum physics but discussed in a way that friends may discuss the plot of a film

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's easy enough to be a relaxing read yet complex enough to make you think. Enjoy it.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 31 March 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ruth is a Japanese woman living on a remote Canadian island with her westerner husband. The island has a culture of beach-combing and Ruth finds a mysterious plastic bag which contains a Hello Kitty lunchbox, a diary written in English, a bundle of letters written in French and a special watch worn by Kamekaze pilots in World War II.
Ruth recognises the watch and can read the diary, but is forced to get the letters translated for her - they turn out to have been written by a Kamekaze pilot to his family - written in French to evade Japanese censors. The diary by contrast was written by a young girl who describes herself as a 'time being' and both Ruth and the reader gradually come to understand what that means.
The story-line flicks between Ruth's life and the extracts she reads from the diary - she chooses to read it day by day as if in 'real time'. This makes the story rather like a detective story as Ruth gradually pieces together what's happened and how all these things she's found fit together.
I'd say this story is suitable for teens upwards, for those who enjoy fantasy set in our world where surreal things happen and dreams come true etc. This is also partly an historical novel too with the tie-in to Japan during the 2nd World War.
My only gripe would be that it all gets a bit technical towards the end as someone clever tries to explain to Ruth how it could all have happened - Shroedinger's Cat and Quantum and things the like of which ordinary mortals wot not of. I thought this was rather out of keeping with the rest of the book and I did struggle to get through to the end as a result.
However, the characters are strong and believable and the author has included a useful Appendix of terms that might be unfamiliar to readers. This isn't a racy page-turner but it is poetically and beautifully written with a strong pull on the reader to make it through to the end and to really understand what happened to the characters.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was on the Booker shortlist and although it didn't win, it's clearly highly rated by many critics. The book has so many subjects and references to so many other books, that it's almost like a "scattergun" approach.

We get heavyweights like Proust and Heidegger - who's Being and Time is clearly a major inspiration for the title and the discourses on the nature of time - as well as subjects like Zen Buddhism and Quantum Mechanics.

But really, I think that if it's about any one thing - this is about the process of writing itself. Ruth is a semi-autobiographical character, putting off writing her own book - by finding and reading about maybe her past self? At least it's possible that Nao is based on the author's previous experiences in Japan.

A Japan of stagnation, where workers are cut adrift and left to contemplate suicide as their best option. A Japan where its ancient and meaningful, past culture has been swept aside for a transitory, Western-influenced consumerism. Where the latest trends lack any meaning and are swept aside in shorter and shorter periods of time. "Being and Time" was itself the inspiration for Sartre's Being and Nothingness and maybe it is the latter's existential angst that dominates here.

Both main characters are ostensibly writing books about older female relatives - but end up betraying more about their own lives, no matter how much they may claim to admire their subjects. Both characters are searching for meaning in philosophy, religion and science, but find no answers and drift amongst ideas - in much the same way as the garbage described floating on sea currents. The plastic junk that can never be destroyed is much like the concepts that are discussed - endlessly tossed about on the sea of the writer's imagination.

In many ways this is the strength but also the weakness of the book - it can be frustrating reading, when things just seem to be drifting along and not much happening. But this is also a subject of the book - how time slows down and speeds up, as we become more or less interested in what we are doing. The sea drift matching the seemingly random nature of the concepts discussed. We are left to contemplate whatever washes up on our doorstep.

So in many ways this is a very clever book in how it seems to portray a random current of ideas flowing naturally - but this also makes it a hard read at points and you want the characters to get on with it - for the story to move on. There are some fascinating ideas here that really make you think - but the characters are frustratingly passive and the story-telling is unsatisfying - a bit like life itself really.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 December 2015
An incredibly ambitious and at times conceptually overwhelming novel. The two stories, that of the novelist, Ruth and the Japanese schoolgirl, Nao, are interwoven when Ruth discovers Nao's diary washed up in a beach in western Canada. I admire this book intensely, but it failed to completely engage me, for several reasons. First the book's structure: the two stories alternate chapter by chapter, yet Nao's story is far richer and more developed than the novelists. I felt the structure limited the book and, at times, forced certain parts of the narrative (eg Ruth's decision to read Nao's diary bit by bit, when you or I would probably have read the whole thing in one go - but this conveniently allows Nao's diary to alternate with Ruth's story,). Second - there are far too many intellectual themes - the book feels cluttered with references (eg Zen, western philosophy, origami, 9/11, Japan in WW2 and the kamikazes, suicide, tidal currents, the Japanese tsunami and meltdown of the reactors, Proust, Heidegger, empathetic machines, Schrödinger's cat, multiple worlds theory). Third - the emotionally absorbing parts of the book, e.g. Nao's visit to her great-grandmother's temple - are too few, and although this novel is a great intellectual achievement, it failed to grip me emotionally throughout.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 December 2014
Take a seat open the book and attain a superposition and entanglement, in a moment in a possibility. Be, experience the possibilities.
Some books are so much more than a story, so much more than words or history, some books are just ideas and imagination; this one is all of that and more. It opens layers and layers of stories and ideas, it gives so much to the mind and the heart of its reader, that you have to explore the references and the other authors mentioned to digest, to taste all that is given in this work.
I had never read this author before but I plan to get more acquainted with her work, her mind is too beautiful to ignore or live without., create new ones with every decision or doubt. Encounter others in this world, through the pages through time.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 May 2015
Very hard to give a bad review to a female Buddhist priest but imagine this was written by an angst-ridden teenager making spurious half-learned connections Heidegger, Buddhism, Quantum theory etc. Probably got Godel, Einstein in there. I don't know. I tried twice to read this, I really did but couldn't get past the glibness. My spirit is mean and Ozeki's heart is full, I'm sure but then that gives her a perfect shield to hide behind, doesn't it?
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 September 2014
This is an interesting and creative book, that starts well but ends badly. The basic story line of a bullied young Japanese girl and her suicidal father is good, the way it interweaves with the story of Ruth in Canada is an innovative twist. The problems are that Ruth is obviously the author writing about herself and is frankly, a very dull character. The ending is ambitious but poorly executed. And the last 10 or so pages which explain how the ending might have been possible are a shame bringing in all sorts including quantum physics which play no part in the rest of the book. Any book that needs to explain itself after it has completed is a bit of a creative mess in my mind.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 April 2015
A diary written by a Japanese teenager (Nao) washes up on a small Canadian island and the finder, Ruth, reads it. As Nao's story unfolds Ruth becomes very concerned about the teenager and her father.

The novel takes the form of alternate chunks of the diary and third-person narrative about Ruth, which helps to build suspense. I learnt lots of fascinating detail about Japanese life, religion and culture, partly through footnotes added to the diary by Ruth as she reads it – a clever touch.

The depiction of life in a small Canadian island community was interesting but I found the portrayal of Ruth and her relationship with her husband less satisfying than the characters in the diary.

Towards the end the novel moves into the realm of quantum physics and explains wave function and Schrödinger’s cat, and several appendices expand on these topics. The author is obviously intelligent but but I wasn’t keen on her use of the novel as a vehicle for such discussion.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

Need customer service? Click here