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The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert



The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert

From Publishers Weekly"

I had a cousin, Randall, killed on Iwo Jima. Have I told you?" So begins this ethereal debut novel, a romantic, bittersweet tale set in the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, by short-story writer Walbert (Where She Went), a Pushcart and O. Henry Prize-winner. Walbert's protagonist is Ellen, a shy, sensitive and somewhat lost young woman who is completely enraptured by her cousin Randall, a bookish boy with red hair just like Ellen's. As a child, Ellen sees Randall only once a year, at Easter, but she is so in love with him that her infatuation affects every relationship she has in the years following his early death. After Randall is killed, his father sends Ellen a package containing Randall's diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto. In elegant, restrained prose, Walbert recounts how Ellen slowly pieces together Randall's life and unknowingly links it to her own, her fixation infiltrating every aspect of her existence. Even when she falls in love again, with a thoughtful young lieutenant named Henry stationed in Korea, her relationship is half make-believe: she intercepts the letters Henry writes to her friend Daphne and often finds herself picturing Henry as Randall. Walbert writes delicately on weighty themes, making a lyrical examination of the war's effect on men and women and on unrequited love. This is a haunting, thoughtful work that, without lapsing into clich‚, depicts the sad realities of love and war. (Apr. 2)Forecast: With its beautiful cover (evocative of Memoirs of a Geisha) and dreamy title, this book will do well as a selection for higher-end women's reading groups, though it may be a bit lofty for some.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.






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  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks for the discussion and hospitality. I really enjoyed it.

    1 · September 19, 2013

  • suzan

    great conversations and wonderful people

    1 · September 18, 2013

    • Maribeth

      It's so great to read such a wide range of books and genres!

      September 18, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    It was a complex and difficult read.

    September 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I may be late. I have drop off something to my Monday bowling group.

    September 16, 2013

    • Trisha

      okay see you then

      September 16, 2013

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