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Blossoms and Shadows

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  740 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
This is the story of the birth of modern Japan, told by Tsuru, a young woman who breaks every stereotype of the Japanese lady. We meet her on the day of her sister s wedding, and soon realise that she will not accept the same domestic role that her sister is about to take on. Instead, Tsuru is ready to embrace the new world, defend her beliefs, look for love, and follow he ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 2010 by Hachette Australia
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Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Lian Hearn is the author of the well-received Tales of the Otori, a five book historical fantasy sequence set in a place closely resembling feudal Japan. With Blossoms and Shadows she branches out into straight historical fiction. Blossoms and Shadows is set in the mid-19th century, when the threat of Western colonisation mobilised an alliance of young samurai and court nobles to overthrow the semi-feudal government and restore power to the Emperor. Hearn's novel focuses on a particular group of ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rubbish-bin
I'm trying to work out why this book is boring me - I enjoyed greatly Lian Hearn's Otori quartet, but this novel is not managing to hold my interest. As usual, her characterisation is strong, but as with the previous series, the extensive Japanese names are a challenge, made even more difficult by their various shortenings. This makes it a bit difficult to follow the story at times, and I think the fact that the main character we are following is not directly involved in the battles being descri ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved the Otori stories so I bought this without any hesitation at all. The author must have done a lot of research into all of her historical Japan novels because they have a ring of truth in the fiction. I don't know how someone who is Japanese might respond to them but I am swept away in these books.

Now while this book is not part of the Otori series and clearly set a little closer to our own time, it still has the same magic. A story of a strong young woman in a man's world is touching, f
Sam Still Reading
Feb 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody. Ever.
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: liked the cover
Ugh. I don’t really know how to say this eloquently but here it is: this book sucked. Dreadfully. It had so much promise – Japan, historical fiction, a strong female character, a beautiful cover…and yet I had to force myself to read it. It was boring, I couldn’t keep track of the characters and it jumped around a lot. I think I know even less now of the samurai era than before I started.

Blossoms and Shadows is set in 1860s Japan, as Westerners began to enter the country and Japan itself was in a
Harvey James
Jan 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Totally unengaging and a big disappointment compared to her previous books. Couldn't wait to get it finished so I could move on to something good.
Etant une grande fan de la saga Le Clan des Otoris, je n'ai pas hésité une seule seconde à emprunter ce roman à la bibliothèque.

Lian Hearn retrace ici la révolte du domaine Chôshû contre le bakufu, un gouvernement militaire, entre 1857 et 1867. Nous suivons plus particulièrement Tsuru, une jeune japonaise qui rêve de devenir médecin comme son père.

L'histoire est prometteuse pour toute personne qui aime les romans historiques et qui s'intéresse à l'histoire du Japon (personnellement j'ai foncé,
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, japan, 2012
I read Lian Hearns 'The clan of the otori' when they were published because i just love everything set in Japan/Japanese Culture. I loved reading the books and felt like they were an 'easy' and enjoyable read. This book is not easy. And not always enjoyable. Even if you are interested in Japanese culture and history(i really do like reading about the Bakumatsu era so i thought this would be very interesting) , this book is REALLY hard to follow.
There are so many characters that i constantly had
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
History has a huge cast. If you can survive the barrage of unfamiliar names, this is a fascinating, compelling and, at times, subversive 5-star story.
Well, okay, I liked it, but I'll be really mean and say that I'd never recommend it. I liked it because there was so much wrong with it that reading it felt really good. I know I'm not making any sense.

I despise the bakumatsu period because it's so popular that it has become a collection of cheap plot devices... and this book is a testament to this. Basically it consists of taking a handful of historical personalities (Takasugi Shinsaku, Katsura Kogorō, Yoshida Shōin, that sort) and sticking th
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LIan Hearn has put down the tales of the Otori to give us an excellent novel of the Meiji restoration, as Tsuru’s life becomes intertwined with the revoltionaires from her domain of Choshu as they seek to restore power from the fading Shogunate to the Emperor. At the same time America has demanded Japan ends it’s isolation and the British, French and Dutch are all scheming to get a foot on the Japanese soil. As the domains take sides, strive for power while at the same time trying to prevent the ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Like many of the other reviewers, I very much wanted to like this book. I'd purchased it in Australia based on its beautiful cover, but more importantly, on the delightful fun I'd experienced while reading the author's Tales of the Otori. And, I'd set it aside to read when I'd finished a huge work project as a reward to myself.

Checking the reviews, I made sure I paid attention to all of the Japanese character and place names to avoid confusion, and did enjoy the first quarter of the book. My ta
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a wonderful book. It's a twist on the story of the girl who cuts off her hair, puts on her brother's clothes and goes off to fight in the wars. But Tsuru isn't a stereoptypical female warrior, instead she disguises herself as a doctor and sees the fighting from the other side. The book is set in the years leading up to the Meiji Restoration when there was a lot of civil unrest in Japan and some fighting against Western powers but there's a mental struggle going on as well betw ...more
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I found this book to be really hard work, and kept trying to work out why. I think that the scope of the work coupled with the historical detail and the limited description or explanation of the physical and cultural world were at the root of my difficulty. The huge number of names of people and places were overwhelming, and given that so many people changed names it was hard to keep it all in my head. I was disappointed because I have a strong interest in Japan, have been there twice, and know ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
I found this a very slow read - while the book is very informative and is based on actual events, the story jumps around alot and is told from different charecters perspectives. There were far too many charecters to keep up with names - a glossary of charecter names would have been really helpful.

I was also disapointed that we didn't get to hear all of the main charecters story - I felt like there was big chunks of her storey that we didn't get to hear.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geisha are my pet peeve - or specifically, the (very American) assuption that geisha = courtesan/prostitute. Geisha were and are artists, are paid for conversation, singing, playing shamisen and other instruments, dancing - and the same person was not allowed to be a geisha and a prostitute at the same time during the times shown in the book (this was illegal as per the laws made by the shogunate).

If geisha weren't shown as prostitutes - and there were no Japanese language errors in the book - I
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Found this interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's set in a period of Japan's history that is critical to it's development. Secondly, the cultural mindsets and the conflict between the old and new ideas in parallel with the conflict between the gender stereotyping provides a fertile ground for story lines. It keeps you reading to see what is going to happen
This book was... Well, it was interesting enough, for what it was... But I don't think I'll be surprising anyone when I say it doesn't have a patch on the Otori series. The vividly descriptive and flowing - almost poetic - prose style I enjoyed so much during my experiences with the Otori series is still very much there - that alone made this book worth reading at least once, for me. That said, I would only recommend it to someone who already has an appreciation for the writing style, or someone ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
This book was a huge disappointment. I've really enjoyed Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series, and I'm a very big fan of historical fiction, so I was really looking forward to reading this book. I know basically nothing about the history of Japan, and was expecting this book to enlighten and entertain me about Japan in much the same way as Sharon Kay Penman has about England under the reign of Henry II. Alas, it was not to be. Lian Hearn should stick to writing lightweight fantasy novels and l ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of the Otori series (Across the Nightingale Floor), as i think Hearn can portray characters and create an engaging plot extremely well. The era and locations were not pin pointed, but were obviously set in Japan. This enriched and supported the novels perfectly.

Blossoms and Shadows also had good character development and dramatic climaxes, but was weighed down by the historical elements. In one of the early chapters, Hearn describes ALL of the main characters in a confusing array
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book difficult to get into at the start because of all the different characters. From the very start I found myself continuously flicking to the character list at the front of the book to try and make sense of who was who. This broke up the reading experience for me but with a historical story with so many key people, I suppose it is necessary.

The men in this story are courageous, passionate and mad. They fight the Tokugawa Shogun and in the process, modern Japan is formed. The stor
Candis Joyce
I love this author. This book takes place in Japan in the 1860s. It is interesting to read about the changes and internal discord taking place in Japan at the same time the Civil War was taking place in America. Even with a huge cast of characters, this book is a wonderful look into the life of a Japanese woman who longs to become a doctor.

Lian Hearn is one of my favorite authors. I recommend this book and Tales of the Otori series too. More on that next.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
‘Everyone knew that change was coming, but no-one knew what form it would take or what the world would be like afterwards.’

This novel is set in Japan, in the final years (1857-67) of the Tokugawa regime. This was a turbulent period (immediately before the Meiji Restoration of 1868) when Japan’s feudal society was under pressure both internally (as a consequence of famine, epidemic and feudal wars) and externally (from nations of the west).

The novel opens in 1857, and involves both fictional and
Harj D
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read Lian Hearn's Otori Trilogy, I was really excited to read 'Blossoms and Shadows'. The amount of research Lian tends to do for her novels resonates through each page, in the tiniest of details to the major events which take place. This book most certainly did not disappoint; her fluid like style of writing makes her novels easy to read, understand and grasp overall whilst still keeping the reader hooked and interested.

'Blossoms and Shadows' was based from the perspective of a young wom
Rebecca Kent
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
I struggled through this book. It was hard work, not engaging and more than a little boring at times. As with many of the other reviewers, I read and loved the Otori series and in addition I really like fiction based on actual historical events - so this was a major let down on two fronts.

I felt like I was reading a high school history report in so much as instead of there being a cohesive story, you just kind of jump from event to event to capture the 'historical data' timeline.

In my copy of t
Jul 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Phew! This was hard work. Set in a period I know very little about, this story was fascinating. A time of revolution and upheaval (2nd half of 19th century) told on a national, sometime international, and very personal scale for one young woman, a doctor at heart, who personified the growth and change of her country as well as the pain and heartache of that growth.
"These are the men my story is about. It is they who broke down the old world and reformed the main I now live in, with their dreams
Jan 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

It's rare that I don't finish a novel I'm reading because I like to give books a chance to improve. I'm a little less tolerant of talking books however because I only have limited time to listen to them and if a reader is bad, I don't see why I should force myself to listen.

This one wasn't given a chance after the second disk. The reader wasn't
Diana E. Young
Aug 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book is about Japan pre-2000. I’m always interested to read historical fiction, especially if it is about foreign lands. The central character is a woman named Tsuru who is much more liberal in her views about the freedoms and access to education women should have than the culture allows. She is in awe of the fact that England had a ruling Queen and also that Florence Nightingale made such an impact in nursing.

The story itself is very interesting; however, I found it difficult to follow bec
Richard Gray
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it

"A plum blossom extraveganza"

This was an enjoyable listen for me and I have rated it with four stars, partly for the sheer effort and time that must have gone into the research and writing of it. I select novels for their length and potential to absorb me in their story, thusly, i have listened to several novels of an oriental flavour, or by japanese authors and have never been disappointed. The only difficulty i had with this novel was my inability to keep track of, and relate to the many vario
Franco Facchini
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Flores y Sombras es un libro interesante.

Al inicio me costó bastante comenzar a leerlo. La idea de leer sobre el antiguo Japón siempre me interesó, pero nunca me había sentido atrapado por la parte intermedia, la transición de un Japón medieval y conservador a un Japón renovador y con toques occidentales.

La historia gira alrededor de una muchacha (y en algunos casos otros personajes), que sueña con ser más que una mujer sin importancia en un Japón de hombres. Es hija de un doctor y planea serlo
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
I was quite disappointed by the last instalment in Hearn's Tales of the Otori series so I wasn't really enthused by the idea of reading this book. I finally decided to give it a go and although it wasn't nearly as entertaining as the Otori books it turned out to be an okay read.

What I found most interesting was the depiction of 19th century Japan and particularly the turbulent times of the 1850s and 1860s, which I knew nothing about. I also liked the strong female character and her struggle in a
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Finally - A non-Otori book 1 14 Sep 19, 2010 03:50PM  
Lian Hearn's beloved Tales of the Otori series, set in an imagined feudal Japan, has sold more than four million copies worldwide and has been translated into nearly forty languages. It is comprised of five volumes: ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR, GRASS FOR HIS PILLOW, BRILLIANCE OF THE MOON, THE HARSH CRY OF THE HERON and HEAVEN'S NET IS WIDE. The series was followed by two standalone novels, BLOSS ...more
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