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Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel Paperback – Unabridged, September 26, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Snow Falling on Cedars was an absorbing, thoroughly enjoyable read. At times an interracial romance, a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a fictionalized chronicle of the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, this book pulls the reader into an accurate rendering of life on an island in Puget Sound. The disparate aspects of the novel are seamlessly interwoven into a narrative that allows the reader to embrace the plot, the characters, and the dead-on descriptions of the physical characteristics of the novel's setting.
The novel is narrated by Ismael Chambers, the publisher of the only newspaper on San Piedro Island, the fictional stand-in for Bainbridge Island, Washington. The islanders are, with few exceptions, either strawberry farmers or Salmon fishermen. When a white fisherman dies under suspicious circumstances, the evidence points towards a Japanese-American fisherman who was the last person to see the dead man alive. Ishmael's boyhood romance with Hatsue, the girl that later becomes the accused man's wife, provides fertile material for interesting flashbacks to the early 1940s, when virtually all of the island's Japanese-American population was carted off to internment camps soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
I have always believed that one of the true marks of a great novelist is his/her ability to create believable characters of the opposite sex. Many well-respected writers fail at this task. In this novel, David Guterson's portrayal of Hatsue rings as true as any reader could hope for.
If you have seen the film based on the novel, please don't let its substantial shortcomings steer you away from this book, which is a must read for anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.
This book, on the contrary, is an evocation of time and place. It is largely 'memory' even though it is not a first person narrative. It asks the reader to relax into a poetic reverie on who these people are and how they came to the situation upon which the plot turns. The author does not push the mystery element except as an excuse to uncover more information about his characters, their relationships and the origins of their current lives.
Not everyone enjoys this kind of book. Certainly those who gravitate towards Jackie Collins or John Grisham should not be expected to find this to their likeing. Even those who read only 'serious' literature have special tastes and only some will appreciate this.Read more ›
A strong feature of the novel is the way in which Gutterson shows readers how the environment has shaped his characters, for example, (1) Kabuo's obsessive yearning for his stolen land containing the strawberry fields, (2) Hatsue and Ishmael's childhood love affair, which grows from their fascination with the sea and cedar forests (I remember the imagery of the glass sea box), (3) later in the story, Ishmael draws comfort from the forest because it embodies Hatsue for him and reminds him of their intimate encounters in the cedar tree.
In terms of evocation of place and atmosphere, this book reminds me very much of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (or as Americans would know it, Smilla's Sense of Snow) and The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx. All three books have in common the sense of snow, the sea, sailing etc and have been favourites of mine for some time.
To me, this is a story about the tragedy of a man who cannot come to terms with the loss of a childhood sweetheart. Ishmael's war experiences impact upon his initial loss of Hatsue in many ways. Ishmael's yearning for Hatsue long after returning from the experience of war, is perhaps at times, a distraction which prevents him from realising the full horror of his war experiences (including the loss of his arm and his innocence).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a book I have written twice. Of course seen the movie. But the book written within the story flows with beautiful prose. I loved it the second time around. FredaPublished 9 days ago by Freda Heller
This is a beautiful, compelling story. It is a book that captivates, puts one right in the middle of the difficult dilemma of love. Definitely worth reading!Published 13 days ago by Gwen A. Gerety
The writing brings visual, olfactory and imagination together. FABULOUS book!Published 16 days ago by katie
This story is about prejudice and fear, and loyalties and lies of a community of fishermen in the Puget Sound Northwest in the 1950s. Read morePublished 1 month ago by claudia Harper
Beautifully written, poignant characters. I love historic fiction.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This book combines social tension between races and individuals on so many levels, all culminating with one trial within the community. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I couldn't put this book down. It deals with the frenzy the U.S. went through after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the aftermath that creates a prejudicial response to a possible... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Wynne Summers