Thursday, April 03, 2008

29. "The Tokaido Road" - Lucia St. Clair Robson

This is the first book that hasn't been European at its core, which was a refreshing change. It is a story of revenge and power, particularly a woman's power (or lack thereof) in early 1700 Japan.

Cat, the illegitimate daughter of Lord Asano and his "outside" wife, has given herself up to the courtesan trade to support her mother. When it appears that Lord Kira, the cause of Lord Asano's disgrace and death, is trying to kill Cat, she leaves to journey along the Tokaido Road to avenge her father by murdering Kira.

The book is rich as custard in details, whether it is the customs of Buddhist monks or the clothing of each caste. By the time I reached the end, I forgot that the purpose was to kill Lord Kira because I was so entranced by the subtleties of language and history. The truth of the story - 47 of Lord Asano's people murder Lord Kira - is suddenly shoved into place like a round brick, shocking this reader into methodical thinking rather than the preferred enchantment of descriptions.

Outside of that, it is a wonderful example of this period of Japanese history and culture.

4.0 out of 5.0 Tokyo Teas.

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