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The Samurai's Garden Paperback – April 15, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Tsukiyama brings a fluid, smooth elegance to the complicated story she tells.” ―The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“An exraordinary graceful and moving novel about goodness and beauty. Tsukiyama is a wise and spellbinding storytelling.” ―Booklist
“Beautifully crafted . . . Tsukiyama's writing is crystalline and delicate, and notably in her evocative of time and place.” ―Publishers Weekly
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he lived surrounded by those who were supposed to be his mortal enemies. But only tenderness and wisdom carried him to health.
I wish there was a sequel... but I’d be afraid Matsu or Sachi would die from age or disease. Maybe the war would end and Stephen could return to Tarumi and Keiko would still have feelings for him. I know, I’m a romantic at heart.
I just felt the ending wasn’t the end.
I am neither familiar with Japanese nor Chinese culture, therefore, I was intrigued to learn more about both. Author Gail Tsukiyama has definitely been exposed to both cultures as the daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father. This thought-povoking fictional novel is a lovely introduction to both these worlds in the late 1930's at the onset of World War II. The main character is Stephen, a young Chinese man who, at twenty years old, discovers he has contracted tuberculosis. Due to his ill health, he is sent by his parents to his deceased grandfather's beach house in Tamuri, Japan in order to recuperate. Although he has visited here before at a much younger age, he soon discovers the quiet and stoic personality of Matsu, the gardener who has taken care of the beach house all these years. Stephen is soon to be embraced into Matsu's life as he learns about Sachi, who lives in the leper village of Yamaguchi up the mountain not far from Tarumi.
The enchanting and calming pace of "The Samurai's Garden" takes the reader on the most incredible journey as the story of Sachi and Matsu unfolds. The strength of character, devotion, loyalty, and love are enough to take your breath away. Their story is as beautiful as the Samurai's garden and the peace, beauty, and serenity found there.
This is a story so eloquently told...it is sure to touch those with a sensitve and sentimental heart in such a way that its affect will not soon be forgotten. I know that Stephen, Matsu, and Sachi have touched my heart in the most memorable way possible and I enjoyed every moment of my time with them. I thank this gifted author for sharing her talent with me, so that I could also share in the wisdom of all three.
Author Dolores Ayotte
Top international reviews
What marked it down to me was that the plot ran out of steam a bit three quarters of the way through. Also having recently been spoilt by reading John Williams (Stoner), Willa Cather and Jane Gardam, all most beautiful writers and masters of their craft, the beauty of the text was just not quite up to it and I felt a bit let down.
Don't let me put you off, it is a good book but not a great one.
The characters are well drawn and even though some of the events that unfold are tragic and arise from human weakness, it left me with a positive and uplifting view of human nature.
There is an interesting contrast between the gentle unfolding of the tale and the politeness of the lead characters, with the momentous, tragic and even violent events in people's lives. I knew little of the relationship between Japanese and Chinese cultures in the period immediately before the Second World War, and this book helped me to gain useful insights.
I would heartily recommend this book.
It's a humbling study of calmness and dignity in the face of diversity.
Whilst the cultural setting is classic oriental, there may be a lesson here for all of us.
Now on to the story itself. The protagonist is a young man who is recovering from tuberculosis in Hong Kong, where he lives with his parents and his siblings. It is September, 1937 and Japan is about to invade China. The young man, Stephen, who is Japanese on his father's side, and Chinese on his mother's but has been brought up with a western education. His passion is painting but all this comes to a stop as he fights to regain his health. His parents decide that he should move to the seaside town of Tarumi, Japan where his grandfather owned a beach house, but it was little used by the family and a sole caretaker and groundskeeper, was usually the only inhabitant. Stephen took the train to Kobe, Japan where he met up with his father, a wealthy businessman, who worked out of an office there and rarely visited his home in Hong Kong, which was under British rule at that time. Once he arrives at the beach house, he is taken under the wing of Matsu, who has cared for the beach house for thirty years. Matsu does the cooking, cleaning and gardening and everything else necessary to run the household including bringing Stephen back to good health. Stephen stays there virtually alone except for Matsu for about a year and during that time, he learns more than he could possibly be taught at any university about life and the way to live it.
I just loved this book. It is an excellent piece of literature, with precise writing, and characters who will break your heart on the one hand and make you smile on the other. I can't say enough great things about this book. I loved it and recommend it highly. And if you were a fan of Pearl S. Buck you may believe that this author is her reincarnation.