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Blossoms and Shadows  By  cover art

Blossoms and Shadows

By: Lian Hearn
Narrated by: Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor
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Publisher's summary

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.

What listeners say about Blossoms and Shadows

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A bit confusing

Would you try another book from Lian Hearn and/or Allison Hiroto and Marc Vietor ?

maybe

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

no comments

Would you listen to another book narrated by Allison Hiroto and Marc Vietor ?

sure

Was Blossoms and Shadows worth the listening time?

yes

Any additional comments?

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!

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not "Tales", but historical fiction

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.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyable

I enjoyed this book and felt that I learned things about the Japanese culture, but it was not as good as Liam Hearn's trilogy.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not for anyone that liked the Tales of the Otori

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.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Lian Hearn is a good writer this is not her best

I am very upset at this book it's just not a good write for her

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Fans of the Otori do not bother with this.

Would you try another book from Lian Hearn and/or Allison Hiroto and Marc Vietor ?

I loved the first three books of the Otori Series so I picked this up.

What could Lian Hearn have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I appreciate character driven narratives, but there was no story. You would think incest and transvestites would be interesting....

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Allison Hiroto and Marc Vietor ?

The narration was monotonous, almost anyone would have been better.

What character would you cut from Blossoms and Shadows?

All of them. This story did not need to be told.

Any additional comments?

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.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Hearn's facts get in the way

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.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Let down, far from the expected standard

After being totally enthralled by the Tales of the Otori, and also liking the first and fourth (?) book about the Darkwood (for some reason, the other books are unavailable in my country), I looked forward to many enjoyable hours of listening to this story.

Unfortunately, the characters are too many, and even the main character remains somewhat distant even after 17 hours in her company. It is too hard to relate to her love life, not to mention her Trans years, especially since the narrative keeps getting interrupted by first person thoughts if men about to die.

Perhaps this makes sense on paper, since many of the characters are probably historical people, but it just confused me as a listener.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story