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Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman
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Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  94 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In 1904, when thirty-four-year-old British Army captain Arthur Hart-Synnot was sent to Japan to learn the language of his country's new ally, romance was the furthest thing from his mind. At least five generations of the Hart family had served in the British Army-his father, grandfather, and uncle had risen to the rank of general, and the ambitious young officer expected t ...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Penguin Press HC, The
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Jason Koivu
Feb 24, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Love, devotion and war have always made for strong ingredients in the sort of humanistic story that is a pleasure to read, and that holds true for this tale of heartbreak about a man and a woman from two separate nations during wartime.

The fact that this is a love story involving two of the most reserved nations of people in recent history - a British man and a Japanese woman - is amazing in that the story is even in the least bit intriguing. This trial of unrequited love wouldn't even have com
Rebecca Huston
Sep 28, 2012 Rebecca Huston rated it really liked it
This one was a real heartbreaker of a story, and even more, it is a true one. Arthur Hart-Synnot arrives in Tokyo in 1904 to learn the Japanese language and seek advancement in his career as a military officer. One of the people that he meets is Masa Suzuki, a young woman who is forced to work in a bar after a divorce. Both he and Masa form a deep friendship that becomes more, and when Arthur is sent to Manchuria as an observer, he asks Masa to write to him. Soon they are exchanging letters, ful ...more
Oct 10, 2010 Jonathan rated it it was ok
It starts out good as a budding/forbidden romance, but the cowardly and spoiled aptitude of the British officer ended up pissing me off.
Kathleen Cook
Dec 10, 2012 Kathleen Cook rated it really liked it
Based on the hundreds of letters a British officer writes to his Japanese love, this book provides insight into the ill-fated love between classes and races in the early 20th century, as well as a front row seat for the history of the period. At times the book seems to drag interminably as the officer, Arthur Hart-Synot, repeats his love for his darling. There was a book based on Masa's letters as well, and it would have been interesting to include her point of view, which we see only from his r ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Brian rated it liked it
More people are going to read my review of Sword and Blossom, than will actually read Sword and Blossom. So I'll attempt to rise to the occasion.

I really like stories of the 19th century British empire, like Orwell's Burmese Days. I'm sure that's how "Sword and Blossom" ended up on my bookshelf. "Amazon recommends Sword and Blossom"...

I started this book a couple of years ago, and took a break to read something more interesting. That was then, this is now: 2012, the year of clearing out the back
Sword and Blossom: A British Officer’s Love for a Japanese Woman – Pagnamenta /Williams
3 stars
This is the true story of the unlikely love affair of a British Army officer and a Japanese woman. In 1904 Arthur Hart-Synnot was sent to Japan to learn the language of a new British ally and to observe action in the Russo-Japanese war. It is at this time that he falls in love with Masa Suzuki. The story of this unique relationship has been reconstructed from the more than 800 letters found preserved af
P.D.R. Lindsay
Aug 11, 2013 P.D.R. Lindsay rated it liked it
'Sword and Blossom' is subtitled 'A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman' but in light of what Arthur Hart-Synnot actually does to his Japanese love, one can't help wishing the authors had been a little less dispassionate and more carefully non-partisan, and had actually examined that crucial decision in Cannes in 1919. Why did Authur do what he did? The authors skate round the reasons, and their lack of analysis spoils an otherwise excellent book. One is left wondering if Arthur ...more
Jun 30, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this about 18 months ago but this one continues to resonate for me. As young lovers in turn-of-the-century Meiji era Japan they committed to each other's hearts and that remains throughout their lives. But it was hard. Part of the fascination here is watching how they navigate both each other and the 20th century. Yet, Masa Suzuki was already on the cutting edge as a new breed of young woman who worked outside the home; becoming a lover to a Western man was costly, angering her family and ...more
Dec 14, 2013 Jewel rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-lit
as much as this book is advertised as documentation of letters back and forth between two folks, Sword and Blossom seemed more like an indirect history book. there is more commentary and explanation about Arthur and Masa's life than focus on their actual writings to each other. this meat in between the "letters" covers Japan's relationship with Great Britain in the early 1900s. there are many great tidbits of book that show what life was like on a detailed scale during the Meiji rule in Japan. A ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Oct 12, 2008 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as decided-not-to-read
Shelves: history, east-asia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Worden
Feb 16, 2016 Scott Worden rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen Martin
Mar 19, 2008 Jen Martin rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book - what a love story. The constraints that they allowed into their relationship were really sad - quite the eye opener for a reader in today's society. Definitely proof against the adage that love conquers all.

What did I learn from this book? Well, I had no idea Japan and England had an alliance or that Japan was involved nominally in WWI. Also had no idea that Germany occupied part of China. A lot of this history was glossed over in school!
Oct 02, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read! I'm a big fan of a book that teaches me some history, geography, etc as I enjoy a vicarious visit with people. This begins in 1904 until both of their deaths in the 1940s. This is a truthful look, I think, at what happens so often between military men and the women who lived in the countries they occupied. The Sword remains a sword, eventually abandoning his wife and children, while the blossom somehow never wilts.
Dec 30, 2013 Kp rated it it was amazing
This book was so sad but so profound. I read it about 5yrs ago but it has stayed with me, the idea that this was real it what makes it so profound. To get up each day having lived through so much is true strength. My heart hurts for her but I'm so glad I read it.
May 19, 2012 Jodi rated it it was amazing
25 May 2010 - This was an amazing story about how the events of your life can sometimes be beyond your control. The historical background was very detailed, and the relationship between England and Japan at the beginning of the 20th century was vividly portrayed. I raced through it.
Naomi Porter
Aug 13, 2011 Naomi Porter rated it liked it
Very interesting! The story is entirely based on real letters between a British officer and his Japanese love...reads more like a documentary than a novel. I was sad and mad at the outcome, but that's real life for ya. Learned a lot about England and Japan in the 20th century.
Michelle Wilson
I recommend this to everyone! I am loving the Biography section of my local library right now and this is the latest one I have finished! A very tragic sad at the end but wonderful to read their actual letters and loved the photos!
Jul 15, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it
A story about love and human frailty. I could wish that the end had been a little less abrupt (more info on Arthur's and others' last years?) but maybe they just didn't have the information.
Jun 30, 2012 Dee rated it liked it
great story, really makes you think about loyalty, personal feelings, and prejudice
May 17, 2010 Elieharmon rated it it was amazing
Another true memoir that I loved! If you like Memoir of a Geisha read this!!
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Peter Pagnamenta is a writer and social historian who lives in London. He is the author of Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman.
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