- Paperback: 295 pages
- Publisher: Griffin; Reprint edition (July 30 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312349084
- ISBN-13: 978-0312349080
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.1 x 21.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,758,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Book of Loss Paperback – Jul 30 2007
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
Told in the style of the classical Japanese women's diaries from the Heian era (794–1185 C.E.) Jedamus's first book is a melodramatic court romance. The banishment of Kanesuke no Tachibana for his crime of seducing the emperor's daughter sets off a bitter feud between the brooding narrator—who is 29, unnamed and a provincial governor's daughter—and her friend-turned-rival Izumi no Jiju. They both love Kanesuke, and they are both ladies-in-waiting to Empress Akiko (real-life mistress to Tale of Genji author Murasaki Shikibu), and they engage in a battle to ruin each other's reputations through spying and gossip. When a ripe intrigue of the narrator's backfires with the empress, and, separately, the emperor's son and heir dies of smallpox, the narrator's moral corruption is blamed, forcing her to commit an act of sacrifice that is also her redemption. Jedamus, whose background is in art history, skillfully evokes the elegant aesthetic and elaborate pageantry of the Heian period, particularly in the book's fascinating glossary. But her writing is as florid as her plot is overwrought. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Jedamus…skillfully evokes the elegant aesthetic and elaborate pageantry of the Heian period, particularly in the book's fascinating glossary."
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It's poetry; it's social history. It has a compelling plot. Every scene is vividly real. It takes us spellbound (I was, anyway) into a world very different from the 21st century west in its customs and assumptions, and yet so much like the modern world in that human psychology--the tendency on the part of some toward jealousy and revenge withour regard to consequences--is the same now as it was in tenth-century Japan.
What may not be the same now is a close and respectful attention to the natural world. In the emperor's household and perhaps throughout Japan, everyone lived familiarly with trees, flowers, animals and birds.
The author makes excellent use of the "found poetry" of the names of animals (not just "horses," but "blue roans" and "white roans") colors and fabrics ("lavender damask and green brocade"), of trees and flowers ("violet paulownias"), and of such things as the designations of the hours (each two-hour period named for a character in the Chinese zodiac). But she does not flinch from describing grim realities such as an epidemic of smallpox.
This book definitely deserves more recognition than it has received, and I hope to read more novels by Julith Jedamus.
Jedamus has caught the spirit of the Heian era very well - the obsession over the perfect colours to wear, the meaning of a letter written on thick white paper, the slant of writing dashed off in a hurry, the calm of the Imperial precincts as opposed with the ungoverned world outside. She never gives us too much detail - just enough to spur the imagination.
I think this book is an overlooked gem. I'm guessing it didn't sell many copies, but it really should have. Everything in it is done right, and nothing in it is simple. There are double meanings, triple meanings, to many of the things in the story. Even when you come to the end, you feel like the story continues - and you're left with your own imagination to figure out the heroine's final fate.