Lonelines ** Solutiude ** Isolation
These are three of the primary themes that Gail Tsukyama visits in her novel titled The Samurai's Garden. She sets her story on the eve of the Second World War with a young Chinese man as the narrator. He's been sent to his family's seaside home in Japan to recover from TB. While recovering, he meets some interesting residents of this small coastal town.
I finished the book earlier in the week, and I'm still trying to decide if I liked it. I know that I didn't love it. Nor did I hate it. It was just sort of ok. It made for a very good "waiting" book. As a mom, I spend a fair amount of each day waiting. Those 5 or 10 minutes before it is time to pick up the boys from school or practice. Or, watching the boys while they play out in the front yard. Since the story unfolds gradually and all the main characters have a real sense of quiet to them, it was an easy book to pick up only to quickly put back down again.
I did like how the author wove in cultural elements (from both Chinese and Japanese culture) and historical details that I found interesting. I admit to knowing very little about this time in history so I was interested to learn moe.
I'm not sure what it is that has left me going "ah, it was ok". Perhaps that these themes she visits, are rarely experienced in my life. So I found myself with little connection to the characeters in the story. I thought she did a better job of creating the older characters than she did creating the narrator.
I"m glad that I read it but I don't think I"ll be rushing out to check out her other works. It is almost summer and I think I'm in the mood for more lively tales...