Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > The Courtesan and the Samurai

The Courtesan and the Samurai by Lesley Downer
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Jul 12, 2010

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bookshelves: librarybooks
Read from July 02 to 09, 2010

‘We need to look to the future, not back at the past.’

This novel is set in 1868/69, during the period of civil war (known as the Meiji Restoration) between the shogunate forces (the northerners) and the imperial Japanese forces (the southerners).

The novel’s protagonist, Hana, is seventeen when her husband, a commander in the Northern Alliance, leaves her to go to war. Hana is the daughter of a samurai, and her duty as a samurai wife is clear. The northerners are losing, and when the southerners attack her home and she is unable to defend it she flees for her life across the shattered city of Edo (later renamed Tokyo). Hana is first helped, and then sold, by a procuress to become a courtesan in the five streets of the Yoshiwara.

Yozo Tajima returns to Japan after four years in the West, just in time to find the world he left behind in the last throes of destruction. He is captured while travelling north to rejoin his comrades, but escapes and makes his way to the Yoshiwara. Here he meets Hana, and they fall in love. They are, it appears, fated to be together but there are certain obstacles to overcome first.

I enjoyed this novel, more for the rich historical detail than the actual love story between Yozo and Hana. I know little about this period of Japanese history and found this aspect of the novel quite absorbing. The details of the lives of courtesans in Yoshiwara were intriguing, as was Yozo’s story as one of a number of Japanese who spent time in the west.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Hmm this looks good too! I admire your ability to read several at the same time!!! I have a hard time keeping all the names straight when I am reading ONE book. I wonder which book will be better?


Jennifer (JC-S) All will be revealed in due course :-)


message 3: by Chrissie (last edited Jul 03, 2010 05:59AM) (new)

Chrissie Do you want to see how big Oscar has gotten? I added some photos today! I WISH one got a message when friends added photos, don't you!


Tara Chevrestt I wasn't able to find this at a decent price so took it off my to read. Isn't it a gorgeous cover tho? I have been meaning to find her The Last Concubine but library has not been able to find it for me. Have you read that one?


Tara Chevrestt Ladies!!! Just pre ordered a copy via Book Depo, 5.99 free shipping!!! It don't get any cheaper than that! I love book BOOK DEPO! I just pre ordered two hardbacks thru them that are not availalbe in United States and both were less than 10 bucks a piece. They are amazing. The downside is I won't see this one till March of next year. But it is pretty hard to find. I got lucky.


message 6: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Tara, do you wee what I mean about Book Depository?!!! They are THE BEST! The thing is, there is no reason to add up a couple of books since the shipping doesn't get cheaper. There is no shipping cost. Have you seen my available to read shelf? Well that means pretty much bought at Book Depository books.....


Tara Chevrestt I have started checking Book Depo before Amazon.. I have noticed tho, you have to buy them asap.. There is no postponing.. If a book is listed 50 percent off today, it can be back to normal price tomorrow. I have pre ordered: The Heart Specialistand Annabel plus this one. All less than ten dollars piece!! And neither is available in U.S. yet so I'm pretty psyched.

You know, I have had numerous authors make snide or offhand remarks to me implying that I'm cheap or not affluent enough to buy their book. I'm not cheap, but I have other things to spend my money on besides books. I read 4 or 5 a week.. at 18 a piece, that would get ridiculous! I'm so greatful for websites like Book Depo.


message 8: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Look, why throw money out the window AND there are so many good books available at a decent price why pick the most expensive. Always one is a bit unsure if the book will really be a winner......


Tara Chevrestt Yea I gotta rule, if you are a no name and it's your first ever book, I'm sorry, but I'm not paying 18 bucks for it. LOL


message 10: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I am going to wait and see if you guys like this book first......that is the cheapest.


message 11: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thanks for the review. I am not one to jump at new books. Let others test them first......


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