The Teahouse Fire

The Teahouse Fire

Book - 2006
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Penguin Putnam
?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.


Baker & Taylor
Relocated from 1866 New York to Japan by an abusive missionary guardian, young Aurelia Bernard befriends the daughter of Kyoto's most influential tea master, who instructs her about the fading tradition of the tea ceremony.

Blackwell North Amer
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 one's choice of kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess 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 Bernard, an American orphan who has just turned her back on the only family she has left: the abusive missionary uncle who has brought her along on his mission to Christianize Japan. One night in 1866, fleeing both her uncle and a fire that sweeps the city, she takes shelter in Kyoto's beautiful and mysterious Baishian teahouse, a place that will open entirely new worlds to her - and bring her a new family.
It is there that she discovers the woman who will come to define the next several decades of her life, Shin Yukako, daughter of Kyoto's most important tea master and one of the first women to openly teach the sacred ceremony known as the Way of Tea. Taking Aurelia for the abandoned daughter of a prostitute rather than a foreigner, the Shin family renames her Urako and adopts her as Yukako's attendant and surrogate younger sister. Yukako provides Aurelia with generosity, wisdom, and protection as she navigates a culture that is not always accepting of outsiders. From her privileged position at Yukako's side, Aurelia aids in her crusade to preserve the tea ceremony as it starts to fall out of favor under pressure of intense Westernization. And Aurelia herself is embraced and rejected as modernizing Japan embraces and rejects an era of radical change.

Baker
& Taylor

Relocated from 1866 New York to Japan by an abusive missionary guardian, young Aurelia Bernard befriends the daughter of Kyoto's most influential tea master, who accepts her into the family in spite of disapproving conventions and instructs her about the fading tradition of the tea ceremony. A first novel.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2006
ISBN: 9781594489303
1594489300
Branch Call Number: FICTION AVERY
Characteristics: 391 p.

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GLNovak
Jan 25, 2011

Lots of detail about Japanese life around the time of the opening up of Japan to the West. Also very good descriptions and explanations of the various tea ceremonies practiced.

m
maven
Dec 10, 2009

I enjoyed the theme of this book, especially with the Japanese words blended into the English text. Unfortunately, I didn't really like the writing style, with elements not being very well-developed and just haphazardly thrown in here and there. The end was especially sudden, and the epilogue was not really believable and was pretty ridiculous really.

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