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Publisher's Summary

The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Gail Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu's secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu's generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu's soulmate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

©1994 Gail Tsukiyama (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An extraordinarily graceful and moving novel about goodness and beauty...Tsukiyama is a wise and spellbinding storyteller." ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Extremely Pleasant

I purchased this book solely on the basis of the reviews for it. And they were right! This is a lovely, melodic, touching enjoyable book. One of my favorites.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Historical and spiritual fiction, pulls you in...

Leaves the reader with much to think about. Well developed characters, engaging storyline, human character studies in a very readable work of fiction.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Love this book!

I first read this book years ago and was excited to see it was available as an audiobook because the story is so beautiful. I think it is one of only a handful of books I have reread again and again. I will definitely be listening to it again!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Novel Painted with a Master's Brush

This novel was like a beautiful painting. It carried me through foreign landscapes and across a thousand skies.
I loved the way the characters were removed from the mechanics of their time. Removed from cars and planes. Removed from the influence and noise of avarice. Each time I listened, the narrator took me to that place. I felt my pulse relax and my mind focus on what was important, the words and the people. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A story of friendship and nature

Meaningful connection. It is available and accessible if we open ourselves to it. A beautiful garden grows when It is properly tended. Thank you for this wonderful story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding Story

First of all I love her writing this book was no exception to others I have read great story and great performance from the reader !

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Unusual story line

I enjoyed this book because of the unusual 'zen-like' story line. Well researched historical data about Japan's invasion of China in the '30's. Good, not great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Soothing meditation

Loved this book. The format of the book written as a journal was great. It gave a rexpite from my busy day. Loved tbe characters, and will miss them!

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hated it - waste of time.

hated it - waste of time. not sure why i completed the book at all.... never got good

1 of 6 people found this review helpful