Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$4.17
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Teahouse Fire Paperback – December 4, 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

See all 14 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, December 4, 2007
$4.01 $1.49

The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang
"The Vegetarian" by Han Kang
A dark, haunting, psychological thriller that captures one woman's metamorphosis following a life-altering decision. Learn more | See related books

Special Offers and Product Promotions


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Those expecting another great audio, like Elaine Erika Davis's rendition of Memoirs of a Geisha, are sure to be disappointed, but the plodding pace of this new work of history cloaked under a fictional kimono is not the fault of Barbara Caruso but of its author. The minute details of the tea ceremony as it was transformed by historical events are not interspersed with enough plot for Caruso to keep the story moving. Unfortunately, Aurelia's obsession with Yukako, who saved her from the sad fate of European orphans in a strange land, is the subplot of Yukako's drive to save the tea ceremony from obscurity. Caruso gives Aurelia's voice all the wide-eyed wonder of Gulliver among the Lilliputians, but since Aurelia recounts her life in her old age, this tone is a bit forced. Yukako and other women are nicely individualized, but men tend to grunt out their words. Listeners fascinated by Japanese history will be rewarded by a compelling look at an elegant tradition that is sadly too slow and ritualized for Americans who measure life in nanoseconds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Avery, a longtime student of the Japanese tea ceremony, has set her first novel in late-nineteenth-century Japan, when that tradition-steeped nation gradually exposed itself to the modern West. She weaves a memorable saga of two women: Yukako, the daughter of a respected "tea advisor" to feudal lords, and Aurelia, a French orphan who traveled to Kyoto at age nine with her uncle, and was adopted by the tea master's family after he died. Avery adroitly conveys the intricacies of the tea ceremony, "the language of diplomacy," and the subtle ways in which it was transformed as Japan moved from a Shogun society to one ruled by the emperor. At the same time, she illuminates other social changes, such as the arrival of the steam engine, women no longer blackening their teeth, and the lifting of the ban on Christianity. Aurelia remains Yukako's stalwart friend through doomed romances and a disappointing marriage, telling her, when Yukako resumes her father's tea ceremonies after his death, "You took an art that could have died, and you made it live." Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Paperback: 465 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead (December 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448273X
  • ASIN: B001G8WNMS
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellis Avery studied Japanese tea ceremony for five years in New York and Kyoto, and now teaches creative writing at Columbia University. She is the author of a novel, THE TEAHOUSE FIRE, and an award-winning nonfiction book, THE SMOKE WEEK: SEPTEMBER 11-21, 2001. Her work as appeared in The Village Voice, Publishers Weekly, and Kyoto Journal, and produced onstage at New York's Expanded Arts Theater.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many historical novels feel all too "set" in a distant time and place, and reading them is like having to walk gingerly through poorly constructed scenery. The Tea House Fire grows out of its setting with the grace and sureness of an organic process that we watch unfold with wonder. The extraordinary details on every page mean that the research for this novel must have been massive, yet it reads as though the author simply grew up in ninteenth-century Japan and assimilated the knowledge of the world she describes as she has her American narrator asssimilate it: as the adoptive daughter/sister in a family that has been teaching the art of tea for centuries. The Tea House Fire creates a world you will want to spend time in. The prose is delicate and original; the characters are unfamiliar and getting to know them slowly is an unusual pleasure, as is making acquaintace with the world that is drawn for us by Ellis Avery in such fine strokes.
1 Comment 30 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
...but it just wasn't my "cup of tea."

Perhaps I was expecting something more akin to "Memoirs of a Geisha" or "Distant Land of My Father," etc., but I just could not get into this novel. I enjoyed the first hundred or so pages and found myself somewhat interested in the characters, learning about the art (for lack of a better word) of the tea ceremony and the political situation in Japan in the mid-eighteen hundreds. However, that is pretty much where it ended for me. It became too drawn out, slow and rather boring. I felt at times that certain details I needed to know were missing and thus found myself somewhat confused with the way the story was being told and its flow. Perhaps it would have been better if written as a young girl, as opposed to being written as an older woman looking back on her young years? Essentially, it became a chore to pick it up and read, which for someone like me who devours at least a book or two a week, is usually not a problem. Therefore, I gave up and never got past page 162. While its rare for me to put down a book, I just couldn't read it anymore and realize that I don't even care to even know how it ends.

I'm not sure if this review will be helpful to others. As I said, I really came into it wanting and expecting to love it and it just missed the mark with me, however there are many other reviewers on this page who loved it. While I don't personally recommend this book, I think it would be of value to those with a particular interest in Japan, this particular time period, or the tea ceremony.
3 Comments 42 of 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Of all the remarkable things about THE TEAHOUSE FIRE, I'll highlight this one: there are precious few novels that educate the reader without talking down to her, that feed the heart without soppy romanticism, that accomplish poetry without pretention, and that evoke effortlessly the true strangeness of being cast adrift in a world of others' making. This is one such novel. Avery unfolds the life of Aurelia/Urako with such delicacy and precision that her intoxicated reader is moved to terror by the appearance of the wrong tea bowl, to panic by the counting-out of a bow, to unalloyed joy at the eventual gift of love so hard-won. Avery's world is a world of people signalling to each other, as best they can, through gesture and object and the language of ritual, the awful fact that desire rests on the impossibility of making itself known. "One moment, one meeting" is the mantra of tea ceremony, and this book is a sequence of such moments: in which all mistakes are swept away by the understanding that there is no such thing as a mistake.

Avery's lucid and exacting prose will be appreciated by fans of Louise Erdrich or Annie Proulx; her eye for historical detail is comparable to Emma Donoghue's or Sarah Waters'. The grace with which she brings these talents together is uniquely her own.
Comment 24 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By W.L. on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was really looking forward to reading this book but was a bit disappointed after doing so. The story itself is actually very interesting but it was very slow at times which made it hard to stay tuned in. Many people reading this book might be expecting something similar to Memoirs of a Geisha (which it is not). The book is well written and you can tell that the author spent much time researching Japanese history to ensure she got it right. I appreciate the fact that the author attempted to go that extra mile to educate her readers however at times it was also a bit prolonged. One last point to mention is that the list of characters was a bit confusing at times. There were moments where I had to flip through previous chapters to remember which character the author was speaking of and how they were related to the main character. Often times when I read a book, I like at least one character in the story but I didn't particularly like any of the characters. In short, I would not recommend this book to people who do not like slow-moving novels.
Comment 7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
"The Teahouse Fire" is a fabulous read for many reasons: Author Ellis Avery's poetic and richly detailed prose; her ability to weave a compelling plot (and plot twists), as well as create unforgettable characters whose loyalties both linger and shift across the decades; her passion for tea ceremony and personal knowledge of the ritual; and her extensive research on the Meji period in Japan. Avery writes with authority and deep understanding of the human condition. I loved this book and hope it's the first of many from a gifted writer who deserves to become a household name. "The Teahouse Fire" would be an excellent selection for book clubs!
Comment 12 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: historical west fiction