The Samurai’s Garden

Thoughts   The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, St. Martin’s Griffin 1994, 211 pages.

FIRST SENTENCE:  “I wanted to find my own way this morning so I persuaded my father to let me travel alone from his apartment in Kobe to my grandfather’s beach house in Tarumi.”

MOTIVATION for READING:   My friend Holly enthusiastically recommended this and since it is set in Japan, I selected it for the Asia component of my Global Reading Challenge.     And since I gave up on my original choice for Place in the What’s in a Name 3 Challenge, I’m substituting this one.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:   A young Chinese man is sent to the family’s vacation home to recuperate from an illness.   It is the eve of World War II;  Japan is invading China, and our protagonist learns about life and relationships from the wise caretaker of the house.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so GOOD:    In quiet beautiful prose, we are taken on a slow journey as we learn along with Stephen about family and friendship, goals and dreams, duty and love.   The descriptions are vivid and create a serene sense of place and time amid the tragedies of war, disease and misunderstandings.     Early on, I was struck by a few sentences that explained more than necessary and a few that lacked but this is very minor compared to how lush the writing was most of the time.

FINAL THOUGHTS:    I enjoyed this slowly unfolding novel (when I told myself to not be impatient for something big to happen.)    It’s richness is not in the action but the careful progression of the relationships.    It’s lovely.   I’m quite surprised I didn’t find more reviews — it seems to be on many lists, though.

RATING:   Three slices of pie.

OTHER REVIEWS:  BookGirl’s Nightstand, ???  Anyone else?

POEM BETWEEN the DEDICATION and the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

No one spoke,
The host, the guest,
The white chrysanthemums.

ZZZZZZZZZZ- Ryóta

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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18 Responses to “The Samurai’s Garden”


  1. 1 bermudaonion July 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I wonder if there would be enough action for me. I have to be in the right mood to read a book that doesn’t progress very quickly. Great review.

  2. 3 Dorte H July 21, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    It sounds as if this one is strong on sense of place rather than pace.

    NB: I have fixed the challenge link.

  3. 5 iliana July 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for linking my review Care. I’m glad to hear you liked it. I really want to read more by this author and actually have another of her books but I think it might be a sequel to another? I need to double check as you know me, gotta read the books in order :)

  4. 7 Bookjourney July 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    This sounds like it could be a beautiful read. Like Kathy (Bermudaonion) I need to be in a certain mood for a slow paced read…. I swear sometimes I have some sort of book ADD…. catch and hold y attention while you can or I move on to something else on the shelf :)

  5. 9 Lisa July 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I read Tsukiyama’s Street of a Thousand Blossoms and felt the same way about her writing. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for this one.

  6. 11 Serena July 22, 2010 at 8:42 am

    This is a book I would have to be in the mood for. thanks for the review.

    • 12 Care July 27, 2010 at 7:11 am

      SOme books are like that, yes? I guess each book tends to require a certain mood. Which is why I usually want to know NOTHING when I start a book – if it’s good and it’s different than I expect (right or wrong) then I just love the experience more.

  7. 13 Iris July 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I think I would have to be in the right mood to read this book, but if I am it sounds like a lovely read.

    • 14 Care July 27, 2010 at 7:12 am

      I have not read enough Japanese Lit but I’m wondering if they do tend to have this quiet gentleness to them. I hate thinking that – sounds like I’m stereotyping! ugh.

  8. 15 Esme July 26, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Have you read her other books-I quite enjoy her books-especially Women of the Silk.

    • 16 Care July 27, 2010 at 7:13 am

      I have not but do want to read more. She is very talented but I’m not sure her style is my favorite. Which is why I need to read more!

  9. 17 Esme August 4, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I have enjoyed all of her books.

  10. 18 Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) August 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I’ve been meaning to try this author. I don’t mind waiting for something to happen, especially when I know it’s a slow novel from the start. I hope it’s okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations.


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