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The Gardens of Kyoto: A Novel

313 Seiten5 Stunden


From the National Book Award nominated, New York Times bestselling author of A Short History of Women and The Sunken Cathedral, Walbert’s beautiful and heartbreaking novel about a young woman coming of age in the long shadow of World War II—“An intricately plotted, thrillingly imagined ­narrative...A masterpiece” (The New York Times Book Review).

Forty years after enduring the Second World War as a young woman, Ellen relates the events of this turbulent period, beginning with the death of her favorite cousin, Randall, with whom she shared Easter Sundays, childhood secrets, and, perhaps, the first taste of love. When he dies on Iwo Jima, she turns to the legacy he left her: his diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto. Each one subtly influences her perception of her place in the world, the nature of her memories.

Moving back and forth through time and place, Kate Walbert recreates a world touched by the shadows of war and a society in which women fit their desires into prescribed roles. Unfolding in lyrical, seductive prose, The Gardens of Kyoto becomes a mesmerizing exploration of the interplay of love and loss.

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The Gardens of Kyoto - Kate Walbert

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What is a memory when it can be tainted or changed by the emotional upheaval of growing up? By grief? Ellen's favorite cousin, killed in the final days of World War II, leaves a lasting impression on her young life and ultimately shapes her future world. Randall's death is profound on multiple levels. He leaves Ellen his diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto, his most meaningful possessions. The parallel between the Gardens of Kyoto that fascinated Randall and Ellen's present-day reality is in the illusion: of what is really there before your eyes. Ellen goes through life constantly questioning Randall's influences.There is a subtle resilience to Walbert's writing; an understated strength and grace to her words.
I really did not understand this one at all. Large portions of the plot are left hanging and never resolved. Characters do not ring true, whole thing seemed very phony.
The Gardens of Kyoto is a most interesting novel tracing the life of one woman (who narrates the story) from age 11 until middle age. Amy Bloom is quoted on the cover saying "...(the author) guides us from past to present, and from death to life, with affectionate detail and deep understanding." Set mostly in the mid-20th century, it is a rather complex story touching on love, death, the emotional damage of war, and even dipping back into the 19th century to include the underground railway. I would love to have read it straight through.