Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Book of Loss” as Want to Read:
The Book of Loss
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Book of Loss

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  221 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Set in the perfectly realized world of imperial tenth-century Japan, The Book of Loss is a gripping novel of sexual jealousy at court.
A renowned storyteller and lady-in-waiting to the Empress, the narrator is locked in a bitter rivalry with another woman for the love of a banished nobleman. Forced to observe the complex rules and social hierarchies of court life, she finds
...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Book of Loss, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Book of Loss

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Tocotin
Another book about Heian... this one was well-researched, and would be really good if it contained a bit more pronounced plot and/or more poetry. (Yes, poetry... I never thought I'd say this but I'd like to see a historical book about Japan which gives poetry its proper place in the lives of the characters.)

I liked that the author chose to include a glossary, instead of info dumping - it's been a long time since I saw a glossary and I really like them. I wasn't annoyed by the constant kissing at
...more
Samantha Blake
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This isn't usually the type of books i go for but i'm glad i bought this.
The narrator started off as being annoying, constantly complaining about life, but after the first 3-4 chapters i felt her pain. To think all this pain and misery was caused because of one selfish man. Kanesuke had played two females who were once close friends and turned them against each other, making each feel that he loved them more than the other, but not hiding the fact that he was still seeing the other one. Izumi i
...more
Aria Zepellin
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
"But if I read it very closely I am sure that I see, hidden in the expanse between each line, evidence that he loves me."

Books set in historical periods are many, but books as well researched and as vivid as this are far and few in between. The author fills her pages with lines upon lines of the setting, allowing one to picture the scene as they deem, to smell the story and the people, to hear the words that they whisper to each other. Jealousy, deceit and secrets are the prevailing theme behind
...more
Kate
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Loss is one of those rare novels in which you can absolutely hate the protagonist and everything she stands for, but still like the story. That’s usually a pretty difficult thing—after all, if you’re too busy wanting to slap the shit out of some whiney character, then the tale itself usually falls by the wayside. Yet, author Julith Jedamus has formed a world where every character has some pretty glaring flaws; it’s just a matter of shades of gray.

Jedamus’s novel takes place in Heia
...more
Aisyah Cappy
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Book of Loss" is set in medieval Japan during the Heian period, and it's a story of politics in court life, and how the spreading of a few whispered rumours can ruin reputations and destroy lives. It's the story of jealousy, obsession, rivalry-in-love and revenge within the royal Heian society, told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator through the pages of her diary ... so it's kind of like "Gossip Girl", but with ancient Japanese royalty instead of rich kids on 5th Avenue. :P

I canno
...more
Bekii
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because I am a big fan of novels delineating asian and ancient japanese culture, however upon beginning this novel I was confronted with a vague and disarranged prologue, not the greatest start. The confusion is only cleared up after the first few chapters and only by the pretense that the prologue hadn't happened. Continuing on with the plot, of which the environment and description was praiseworthy, I found that the characters presented were unique in such a way that every fl ...more
Stephanie M
I could only recommend this book to two audiences -- people who are fascinated by Heian-era Japan and desperate for more to read, and fans of romantic drama looking for something deeply introspective with a fresh, exotic setting.

The book is told in first-person as a diary, and like most diaries it is excruciatingly introspective. While there are dollops of the usual romance drama -- jealousy, scandal, betrayal, sex, and true love -- the book utterly lacks any action, any momentum, because the na
...more
Sarah
May 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
...not too bad. Initially I thought I'd end up hating the book, but now that I've finished reading it... no, I don't really hate it. Even though I heavily disliked the first few chapters because the love portrayed was so corrupted, I eventually sympathised with the narrator. Somehow.

The characters, on the whole, were believable; except for...certain portrayals of intimacy? Somehow I didn't think lovers of that time and setting were so physically close, but I could be wrong about this. Historical
...more
Anna
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I would give it another half-star at least, but the ending was not as conclusive as I'd like.
Two ladies-in-waiting in the Heian Japanese court--where noblewomen live mostly closeted indoors, hidden behind screens and fans with little to do besides choosing gowns and writing or reading poetry--compete for the same womanizing man, who has recently been exiled for seducing a princess. The older woman starts a rumor to make her rival doubt the absent man's devotion, but this one rumor unexpectedly l
...more
Sorcha
Two women have fallen in love with the same man who (after an affair with a 3rd woman - a royal princess and priestess) been exiled far away.[return][return]The diary of one falls into the hands of a friend of the other, and it is through this diary that we find out her side of the story and what transpires over the following years. She believes herself to be sane, but there is a thread of increasing insanity and paranoia that creeps through the story, so you dont actually know what is true and ...more
Jaclynn
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Julith Jedamus' first novel?? Wow, I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in the future! I loved, loved, loved this book! Spoiler...no happy endings here...or happy beginnings or in betweens. A beautifully detailed story of love, betrayal, revenge and loss. Set in 9th century Japan, the author obviously did her research into every little detail of life during the period. The glossary of Japanese terms at the end of the book came in very handy! Highly recommended, if you can stomach the ...more
Bhig
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: femalish, american, japan
Пыталась читать в русском переводе, а переводчику явно не хватило гугля.

Начать с перевода названия как «Роман потерь». Роман (как литературная форма), строго говоря, появился позднее, чем время действия книги.

«Записки у изголовья» Сэй Сенагон перевели как «Книга подушки».

Далее многочисленные ссылки на Китай, из которых правильно не перевели (кажется) ни одну («Чуанг-цзы», «Ян Куафэй», «Чанань»).

Даже не буду пытаться комментировать книгу – перевод убил ее настолько, что я не знаю, был ли этот
...more
Literary  Chanteuse
I enjoyed the writing and the story became intriguing the more I read, however the ending was very abrupt. There was a prologue which gave an insight to the characters and their fates but, by the end of the novel I needed to review it. I would have been satisfied with more of an conclusive ending. Over all not a bad book.
Bianca
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had brought this book at a bargain table at Borders, mainly because I liked the cover, and I'm glad I did. I greatly enjoyed reading this book, even though there was no real conclusion to the story. I felt for the narrator at time, and truly wish to know what happened to her. A very interesting story of love and jealousy and what depths one can be brought to because of it.
Helen
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Starts slowly but I was really enjoying this book until towards the end. The last few pages make very little sense, don't explain a geat deal and then abruptly finishes. What follows is a glossary of terms that aren't very interesting after the story ending as suddenly as it does.
Charise
May 27, 2008 rated it liked it
It was an okay book. I liked how the author made you start off by hating the main character, but as it went on you started to forgive her for many of her faults. But I wish more happened in the book - it was basically a book of the main character whining about life, and not much else happened.
Megan
Not my style of storytelling, but I was surprised by the end to realize how much of the culture and period I'd internalized by reading the book. I wanted a good author's note and didn't get one, but the extensive glossary at the end was a good guide to the culture.
Jo
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book was bought for me by someone who knows I like history and anything Japan..probably not a book I'd have picked up by myself though. But I did enjoy it. Easy read.

Would I read it again?

I'll have to think about that.
Bethany
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
I actually really liked this book. I was well written, apart from the fact it abruptly begins and ends but that kind of makes sense given that it's a diary. I enjoyed the poetry and found I could relate somewhat to the character. There's also a 30 page glossary at the back to explain everything!
Danyel
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I enjoyed this book very much. The author is like an artist trying to paint a picture. Not a difficult read but sometimes it was hard to stay engaged.
Caroline
Impressive first novel, wow! Well-written, evocative and interesting. Was a bit disappointed when the book ended 7/8th of the way thru... the rest was a glossary that I didn't feel was necessary.
Bigsna
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
vague but not such a bad read if you continue to read it at a stretch. tragic.
but i wish it had a more complete end....it ends a little abruptly.
Kelly Pow
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book without any expectation and it turned out to be a great book. Learnt a little about Japanese culture and the plot was engaging...
Velvetink
Feb 16, 2012 marked it as to-read
Tug lib throw out. .60cents
Jess
Mar 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Angry, oversexed, and draped in twelve kimonos.
Lena Silk
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Too much unnecessary emotional torment
Tischa
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Love this book very much, beautiful story.
Therese
May 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like it more than I actually did. I thought it was well-written but did not like the ending. As others have noted, too abrupt.
Mandy
Dec 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure so far...
Annie
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007
Japanese court intrigue set in the Heian period in Kyoto. Not much plot development.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What a Way to Go
  • Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II
  • The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan
  • Stories Volume 1
  • Object of Virtue
  • What the Zhang Boys Know
  • The Printmaker's Daughter
  • The Pure Land
  • Maggie  Me
  • Dirty Tricks
  • The Book of the Maidservant
  • Sea Dragon Heir (The Chronicles of Magravandias, #1)
  • Crazy in Love
  • The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
  • Godiva
  • Alice: Princess Andrew of Greece
  • Evenfall
  • On Poetic Imagination and Reverie

Share This Book