Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

book cover
The Samurai's Garden
by Gail Tsukiyama

ISBN-13: 9780312144074
Trade Paperback:
211 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: May 4, 1995

Source: Bought at a library book sale.

Book Description from Goodreads:
The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener.

Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu's secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu's generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu's soulmate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

My Review:
The Samurai's Garden is a historical novel set during September 15, 1937 to October 29, 1938 in Japan. It's written in a diary format, but it reads more like a fully detailed narrative story. It's a story for those who are interested in other cultures and time periods as the details immerse you in that world. The story moved along at a slower pace, but that pace suited what the story was trying to convey.

The characters came across as real people dealing with real struggles, and I cared about what happened to them. The story is as much about Matsu and Sachi as it is about Stephen. There were relationship tensions between family members and between friends as well as how a Chinese outsider staying in Japan is treated as the Japanese invade China.

There were no graphic sex scenes, though there was a dream about sex with a little more description than kiss-and-fade-to-black. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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