An extraordinary portrait of one family across the years of Japan’s greatest changes; a loving, honest, moving biography of the author’s mother.
Ruri Pilgrim tells the story of her family from the 1870s to the 1950s. She begins with the formality and security of the arrangements of life for a Japanese middle-class family, living in a walled compound with their servants, following exactly the tradition inherited from their parents, with marriages arranged for the children, which continued up till World War II.
By then her mother was married to an engineer and living in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. That period, with her mother’s often funny, painful experiences of learning about the Chinese and Russians with whom she now lived with her growing family, and the war seen from her point of view, is fascinating. At the end of the war, the Japanese – women, children, everyone – had to escape, walking hundreds of miles to the coast.
The family returned to a Tokyo where the society, the culture, the economy was entirely overturned. The Americans were everywhere, the Japanese were unemployed, and the ways of society that they had all known had vanished. And yet somehow Ruri’s indomitable mother survived.
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‘An immaculately articulated evaluation of deep-seated instincts and habits, under pressure from within as well as without… . Uncommonly accomplished.’ The Independent
‘Its warmth and humour depict a private Japan that is both attractive and immediately recognisable… . The accumulation of such intimate glimpses makes this book so worthwhile and such a pleasure to read.’ Literary Review
‘The social codes and nuances are very like those of another island nation – Britain. In its emotional honesty lies the book's great appeal.’ Daily TelegraphFrom the Back Cover:
'It is also a description of a 'secluded kingdom' and its comfortable, upper-class existence, as it comes into contact, and is finally destroyed by the years before and after the Second World War. Ruri Pilgrim, writing about a period of monumental change, eschews broad sweeps of history in favour of telling detail of a family bound not only by obligation but also by ties of affection and genuine pleasure in each other's company. Its warmth and humour depict a private Japan that is both attractive and immediately recognisable . The accumulation of such intimate glimpses makes this book so worthwhile and such a pleasure to read.'
'An immaculately articulated evaluation of deep-seated instincts and habits, under pressure from within as well as without.'
'The pleasure here is in the detail of everyday life and the close bonds of affection; the social codes and nuances very like those of another island nation – Britain. In its emotional honesty lies the book's great appeal'
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Book Description 2000-07-17., 2000. Book Condition: New. HarperCollins. New edition. Paperback. Book: GOOD. 432pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1666550
Book Description Flamingo, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006531334