The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery

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“Like attending seasons of elegant tea parties—each one resplendent with character and drama. Delicious.”—Maxine Hong Kingston

The story of two women whose lives intersect in late-nineteenth-century Japan, The Teahouse Fire is also a portrait of one of the most fascinating places and times in all of history—Japan as it opens its doors to the West. It was a period when wearing a different color kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess an allegiance to Western ideas, and when Japan’s most mysterious rite—the tea ceremony—became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield.

We see it all through the eyes of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako’s closest companion, and they, the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty. Told in an enchanting and unforgettable voice, The Teahouse Fire is a lively, provocative, and lushly detailed historical novel of epic scope and compulsive readability.

About Ellis Avery

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ELLIS AVERY is the author of The Teahouse Fire. The winner of three awards, The Teahouse Fire was translated into five languages. Avery teaches fiction writing at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
Published December 28, 2006 by Riverhead Books. 400 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Teahouse Fire

Kirkus Reviews

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In 1865, Aurelia Bernard was a little girl living with her mother and her uncle, a Catholic priest, in New York.

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BC Books

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Yukako, the Master Teacher’s daughter, takes Aurelia/Urako under her wing, and for the next 25 years, the two share joyful triumphs and bitter disappointments.

Jul 08 2008 | Read Full Review of The Teahouse Fire

RT Book Reviews

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Entertainment Weekly

Ellis Avery studied tea ceremony for several years, so it makes sense that the ritual dominates her first novel.

Dec 13 2006 | Read Full Review of The Teahouse Fire

Historical Novel Society

Temae, the sacred tea ceremony traditionally performed by specially chosen men who were trained by expert tea masters, was no longer held in reverence as it had been in the past.

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Stories by non-Japanese writers set in Japan are often about strangers in a strange land, which can play up exoticism or deference.

Jun 11 2007 | Read Full Review of The Teahouse Fire

Go Mag

Set in late 19th-century Japan, Ellis Avery's first novel follows Aurelia Cornielle, a French orphan, who narrates the story of how she lived and loved in a rapidly Westernizing Japan.

Oct 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Teahouse Fire

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