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.