When Etsuko Sone's sister dies in childbirth in Seattle's shabby Japantown, love for the precocious child catapults Etsuko back across the Pacific and into the austere samurai household of her mysterious mother, Chie, a woman who rejected her at birth. The dubious reconciliation is for the sake of the little Hanae, that she might learn her Fuji heritage and the Zen lessons of humility, dignity, self-discipline, and grace. In Japan, Etsuko is the ultimate outsider: a returning emigrant in a land she left years before; a common woman thrust into a house of secrets and riches; a childless mother and a motherless daughter. As Etsuko and Hanae do their often quite comic best to adapt to life within Chie's samurai household, Japan is changing in dangerous ways. Worldwide economic strife strips Japan's people of food and clothing even as wartime preparations strip them of information and freedoms. Chie and Etsuko greet the mounting militarism with resistance, and when the imperial army cuts cruelly into Chinese Manchuria, accusations of treachery, of antipatriotism, begin to rain on the Fuji household. It is then that the women realise their separate independence is their common bond. It is then that Etsuko finds hidden strength to pursue meaning and beauty in a situation beyond her control.
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Published June 11, 1999
by Simon & Schuster.
Literature & Fiction.