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Publisher's Summary

The fates of two women, one American, one Japanese, become entwined in this sweeping novel of 19th century Japan on the cusp of radical change and Westernization.

The Japanese tea ceremony, steeped in ritual, is at the heart of this story of an American girl adopted by Kyoto's most important tea master and raised as attendant and surrogate younger sister to his privileged daughter, Yukako.

Pasts shrouded in secrets and mysterious traditions rocked by modernization make The Teahouse Fire a compelling and provocative story, lush in details and epic in scope.

©2006 Ellis Avery. All rights reserved; (P)2006 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Solo Narration-Female, 2008

"Author Lee Smith's skill at capturing women's voices is a kind of literary music stemming from our ever-evolving American family life." (Midwest Book Review)
"Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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    49
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • San Antonio, TX, USA
  • 04-18-07

Captivating

This is one of those stories that words cannot define. From the literary excellence to the narration, the novel will capture the listener from beginning to end. It taps on all the emotions one would expect from an exceptional masterpiece while embracing the listener in the lives of its fabulous characters. Despite its fiction story line, the writing consistently flows in harmony with Asian history and culture and is written in such a way that gives credibility to the entire novel. Thank you Audible.com for making this outstanding selection available.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angelica
  • Redmond, OR, United States
  • 02-28-07

Magical Cultural Experience

This story is rich with insight into the Japanese culture from the eyes of a young foreign girl. It is a magical story and the narrator does a wonderful job.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Unexpected and Strong

I really enjoyed this book. Usually when I download from audible I read the amazon reviews but not this time as I was in a hurry. The details about life in Japan fascinated me as did the complexities of the characters. Still, I was utterly caught off-guard by the love story. I didn't expect it and was happily surprised that this book doesn't follow a "Cinderella" format. The narrator's voice and characterizations were very pleasing and appropriate. I did struggle at first with this grandmotherly-sounding person talking so vividly about sex but my apprehensions didn't last long. I wouldn't call this book "lovely" but it was - strong.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Frustrating Heroine

I've been thinking that books that are subtler/character studies aren't always the best for the audio format, and if the books are also immersed in foreign culture, naming conventions that are unfamiliar...perhaps better read. So "TeaHouse Fire" falls into that category, it is a book I think better read unless the listener is familiar enough with Japanese to get a grip on who's who in a book with LOTS of characters. I have to admit that more than once when a character reappeared I wasn't quite sure who he/she was.

But this is simply my observation regarding best format to read this book in. My complaint about the book at large is that the main character was so hard to bond with -- she was frustrating. She's a child when she inhabits her situation, a caucasian (mistaken for an ugly Japanese or perhaps a mixed race child from the Russian border) who ends up servant girl, adopted by a famous Tea family in 1800's Japan. So of course children have relatively little power to influence such a situation, but she just doesn't have enough spunk -- even meditative spunk -- to make her so very interesting. I love the concept, and I like that as she learns Japanese language and culture very slowly things begin to make sense to her, but she needed more oomph to make her sympathetic. I wondered a bit if the drollness of the readers' voice added to my frustration with her. The narrator is not bad, but doesn't charge the heroine with a special feeling that makes her more lovable, sympathetic or...comprehensible. So...I'd read rather than listen and even at that ended the book wishing for a more lively heroine.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Chicago, IL, USA
  • 05-14-07

Good Story

I enjoyed this story very much. The subject of women loving women is treated with a great deal of empathy. It is the kind of story, perhaps like Memoirs of a Geisha that is very beliveable and worth listening to again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Hal
  • Doral, FL, USA
  • 04-01-09

Only girl talk

Women interest me, but listening to the smalltalk of two young women, and nothing else, was boring.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lisa
  • Waynesfield, OH, USA
  • 05-23-08

Good but slow!

A good "listen" however the story line is slow. I have yet to figure out why it is included in a lesbian search. I suppose because it have one small lesbian encounter by the main character. It has taken me 4 months to listen to this book. If I was reading it I probably would have put it down a long time ago!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What a great book!

This book is rich with detail of life in the late 1800's in Japan. I was transfixed by the detail of the clothing, culture, and tradition of a country that is magical. I lived in Japan in 1947-49 and 1951-53 as a child. This book helped me to visualize life in another time period. I went to the computer often to get more information about the lifestyle of the Japanese people. It is fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Still love it!

I read this book as a teen. All these years later I still love it!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

absolutely amazing book!

I cried few times from sadness and happiness. this book is shear beauty. I will recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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  • Story
  • Vonny Milonny
  • 04-26-16

Wonderful book narrated beautifully.

The story is so well written and narrated that I felt as though I had been transported back through time and was seeing, hearing and smelling everything around me. I am sad that the story has come to an end but it is one I know I will be revisiting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful