Japan, 1857. For centuries, Japan has been on its own; isolated by choice from the rest of the world. But the Western powers are now at its shores, demanding to be let in; the government is crumbling, and revolution is building. The age of the samurai is ending and in its place a new Japan will be born.
A young woman is readying herself for marriage in this, the most tumultuous period of her nation's history. The daughter of a doctor, Tsuru has been working alongside him and learning the ways of medicine all her life. When her father allows her to marry the man she loves, a fellow doctor, she believes her life will be all she's dreamed it could be: happily married, working amongst men as an equal.
But Japanese society does not work this way. The men of the times - boys she's known since childhood - are determined to expel the foreigners, using violence and whatever else they need to make their message heard. The women are expected to be hidden at home, or behind the paper walls of the tea houses. Tsuru is far too able to accept this, and she is drawn into a shadowy world of subversion, political intrigue, and a dangerous love. In time, she is working on the battlefields, alongside men, to care for the wounded.
Blossoms and Shadows is a compelling tale of love and war, women and men, and the rise of modern Japan. It shines a brilliant light on a time in history that few have known about until now, though the change it brought continues to ripple around the world.
©2011 Lian Hearn (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
I was very excited the learn that there was a new book by this author, but very disappointed when I listened to it. By the time I got to the middle of the book, I didn't care it I finished it or found out what happened to any of the characters. I loved the Otori series and recommended the books to many members of my family, young and old - everyone enjoyed the series. I just didn't get this book - a time or two I thought it might pick up and be interesting, but it didn't go anywhere.
I loved the first three books of the Otori Series so I picked this up.
I appreciate character driven narratives, but there was no story. You would think incest and transvestites would be interesting....
The narration was monotonous, almost anyone would have been better.
All of them. This story did not need to be told.
I wish I had these 17 hours of my life back. I kept waiting for something to happen. Sadly the interesting part of this story, the fight for Japan to free itself from foreign dominance is secondary. Think Gone with the Wind without any reference to the civil war.
I read all of Hern's previous work and they were strong stories with poetic beauty. This book is awful, no story line, and a poor female reader. If I had not purchased the book before it was reviewed I would not have bought it. Be warned this is not good.
I enjoyed Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series but am very disappointed in this new book. The Mieji reformation was the birth of modern Japan and must have been a time full of larger than life characters and exciting stories, but you would never know it from this book. This book has several flaws - 1) the characters develop very slowly or not at all, 2) most of the multiple threads of narrative are very superficial and 3) there is a huge cast of named Japanese characters, historical and geographical references that would be difficult to follow even with a glossary of Japanese terms and maps . But the fatal flaw is the lack of a compelling story. The performance was probably good but hard to judge because of my negative feelings for the book.
I loved her tales of the otori series. Maybe that set my expectations to high for this book. I have finished part 1 and am on to part 2, and so far nothing has happened. There is no chemistry no pop, no wonder. Just plodding. It's almost just a character study. If you get this book do not expect to find the wonder, mystery and magic of her other books. I was very disappointed. If I could afford to not listen and get something else I would.
Lian Hearn is great story teller- but not of historical fact . The names of every person and place interrupt the flow of the story. It's breath of fresh air briefly exploring gender roles in imperial Japan was exciting, but not sustained . It may be factual but the relationship between the Backufu, the emperor , the protestors , the different government officials being favoured or not was not clear until the very last . I pigheadedly listened on to be sure . The diction of the woman was hard to listen to, and the male voice was overly dramatic . Very disappointing . This is nothing like the Otorti tales.
The problem with historical fiction is you're no longer an artist as much as a documentarian- weaving events together and filling in gaps while tossing in a generous helping of speculation and what-if. It can be done well but much depends on your material and how much you're obliged to hew to actual events. And I'm guessing Hearn is probably pretty faithful to the material.
And there's the problem. Like real life, Blossoms and Shadows doesn't follow a story line as much as a timeline and as such doesn't engage like a well crafted story. At the risk of being a Philistine, I want a plot- a beginning, a middle and an end. This story, such as it is, has none of these. Which is too bad. The characters and history are interesting and the writing is very good. But the engagement isn't there, and one is left wanting much more.
Right, I read in some of the reviews for the book, and it seems, that there's a list of characters etc. in the book. I really miss that in the audiobook! I've given up trying to follow any other than the 4-5 main characters, as the huge amount of Japanese lords, young soldiers and domains get mixed up for me!
Although I have enjoyed other books by this author this book was not (in my estimation) worth my time or money.
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