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Japan, 1868: the last shogun has been defeated, the age of the emperors is about to begin - and in Japan's frozen north a diehard band of loyalists plans a desperate last stand. Hana is just seventeen when her husband goes to war, leaving her alone and very vulnerable. Japan, 1868: the last shogun has been defeated, the age of the emperors is about to begin - and in Japan's frozen north a diehard band of loyalists plans a desperate last stand. Hana is just seventeen when her husband goes to war, leaving her alone and very vulnerable.


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Japan, 1868: the last shogun has been defeated, the age of the emperors is about to begin - and in Japan's frozen north a diehard band of loyalists plans a desperate last stand. Hana is just seventeen when her husband goes to war, leaving her alone and very vulnerable. Japan, 1868: the last shogun has been defeated, the age of the emperors is about to begin - and in Japan's frozen north a diehard band of loyalists plans a desperate last stand. Hana is just seventeen when her husband goes to war, leaving her alone and very vulnerable.

30 review for The Courtesan and the Samurai

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

    I wanted to like this book. After all, I preordered it a year ago and waited and waited waited for it to grace my mailbox... so it's with some disappointment that I write this. The Courtesan is Hana. In the beginning her husband is leaving for war and she wields a sword to defend her home. I thought, "Oh goody, a chick with balls!" Not really... She is terribly naive and ends up permitting some strange woman to sell her into prostitution. And well... I'm all for making the most of a bad situation I wanted to like this book. After all, I preordered it a year ago and waited and waited waited for it to grace my mailbox... so it's with some disappointment that I write this. The Courtesan is Hana. In the beginning her husband is leaving for war and she wields a sword to defend her home. I thought, "Oh goody, a chick with balls!" Not really... She is terribly naive and ends up permitting some strange woman to sell her into prostitution. And well... I'm all for making the most of a bad situation, but this chick ends up actually liking her new profession. I didn't like this partly because I don't like the damsel in distress bit and partly because I think the whole geisha thing is overdone. The Samurai is Yozo. His parts are full of ships sinking, war strategies, and fights. Basically: testosterone. Naturally, his parts didn't interest me all that much. Nevertheless: my number one complaint: This was supposed to be a forbidden romance. I picked this up hoping for something along the lines of The Scarlet Kimono. However, the Courtesan and Samurai don't even meet until page 295! Just not for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I had my doubts about this book to begin with because the title is a little cheesy but let me reassure you, its a beautiful gem of a holiday read! I wasnt able to put it down and found myself entranced by two aspects of Lesley Downer's creativity. First of all she writes beautifully - it is so easy to read and the way she describes situations, conditions, nature, forces of nature, human nature etc were just so spot on for me and done in a beautiful manner. I knew also from the beginning that this I had my doubts about this book to begin with because the title is a little cheesy but let me reassure you, its a beautiful gem of a holiday read! I wasnt able to put it down and found myself entranced by two aspects of Lesley Downer's creativity. First of all she writes beautifully - it is so easy to read and the way she describes situations, conditions, nature, forces of nature, human nature etc were just so spot on for me and done in a beautiful manner. I knew also from the beginning that this lady had really done her research and knew her subject well. She wrote with great skill and confidence and wound a story around some factual events and people which to me was so brilliant. Downer truely captured the essence of the time and era : Japan during a civil war in the late 1900's. The story centres around two individuals : a hero and heroine I would say in the form of Yozo and Hana. The book is set over a period of winter,spring, summer and autumn and follows the characters in their quest to stay alive and find happiness. I wasnt able to put the book down and will definitely be reading more of Ms Downers accomplishments in the coming future days.

  3. 4 out of 5

    George

    After reading Lesley Downer's other works, I found the Courtesan and the Samurai rather disappointing. The novel isn't bad- it's clearly been well researched and there are some exciting parts, but to me, the storyline seemed weak and the characters and certain plots weren't as well developed as they could have been. My main criticism is that the novel felt rather rushed or a bit too sparse- there was a lot of potential there and aspects I would have liked to hear more about. Leads and suggestion After reading Lesley Downer's other works, I found the Courtesan and the Samurai rather disappointing. The novel isn't bad- it's clearly been well researched and there are some exciting parts, but to me, the storyline seemed weak and the characters and certain plots weren't as well developed as they could have been. My main criticism is that the novel felt rather rushed or a bit too sparse- there was a lot of potential there and aspects I would have liked to hear more about. Leads and suggestions in the story were dropped with little or no resolution, and the relationship between Hana and Yozo began unconvincingly quickly, which lessened the emotional impact later in the book. Unfortunately, Downer's fiction does not match the standard of her factual works, but thankfully her knowledge of Japan saves what would otherwise be a rather dire read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Natasa

    I enjoyed this novel, more for the rich historical detail than the actual love story between Yozo and Hana. I know little about this period of Japanese history and found this aspect of the novel absorbing. The details of the lives of courtesans in Yoshiwara were intriguing, as was Yozo’s story as one of several Japanese who spent time in the west.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    I enjoyed the descriptions of life as a courtesan and the bit of history I learnt from the book but the actual love story didn't quite work for me, it felt a bit too good to be true. I enjoyed the descriptions of life as a courtesan and the bit of history I learnt from the book but the actual love story didn't quite work for me, it felt a bit too good to be true.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tocotin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I liked the book for the subject matter (Yoshiwara, the most famous of Japan's pleasure quarters), but less for the story and research, or rather for the impact the research has had on the story. No, I don't think that in a novel, even in a historical one, everything has to be accurate in order for the reader to enjoy it. Yet, the choices of a particular time and place do affect the story, and often force the writer to make specific plot decisions. I mean "force" in a challenging way, like havin I liked the book for the subject matter (Yoshiwara, the most famous of Japan's pleasure quarters), but less for the story and research, or rather for the impact the research has had on the story. No, I don't think that in a novel, even in a historical one, everything has to be accurate in order for the reader to enjoy it. Yet, the choices of a particular time and place do affect the story, and often force the writer to make specific plot decisions. I mean "force" in a challenging way, like having characters choose a more likely course of action, or a less anachronistic reaction to some situations. I believe that this is actually what produces twists and surprises in historical fiction. The story in The Courtesan and the Samurai is as follows: in the period of anarchy between the fall of the last shogun and Meiji Restoration, the young samurai wife Hana, whose husband is fighting on the shogun's (losing) side, learns that all her family is dead. She has to leave her house and look for protection at the address her husband had given her before he left. But the place is deserted and Hana has nowhere to go. She is found by a procuress and sold to Yoshiwara, where she becomes the most famous lady of the night. Here she meets a young samurai named Yozo, who had fought alongside her husband and killed him (or so he thinks). They fall in love, Hana is rescued from an impossibly repulsive suitor who bought her contract, Yozo gets to kill her husband again when the latter returns to his unfaithful - therefore deserving to die - wife, and all ends well. Yozo (a fictional character) is one of fifteen young samurai (not fictional) who had been sent to the West by the shogunate to learn Western ways. Yet, he is way less Westernized than Hana. He shoots the Commander (Hana's abusive husband, a character based loosely on Hijikata Toshizo of Shinsengumi fame) to avenge his friend Kitaro, he dreads Hana's reaction to his confession, he has doubts whether he should choose Hana over his comrades. She on the other hand - a samurai wife and daughter - has almost no qualms about her choices. She leaves the house to an infirm old man and a maid and does not give them a thought until much later. She lets the panderer Fuyu sell her to Yoshiwara, protects very feebly, then... I don't really know, the way it is described, she treats her life in Yoshiwara as a sort of a luxurious game. But the really monstrous thing is her reaction to Yozo's confession: not only she doesn't mind his killing her husband, but the thought of revenge doesn't even cross her mind. Or Yozo's, for that matter. Lesley Downer's previous novel set in the same period, The Last Concubine, was so good because the heroine Sachi had her doubts about succumbing to her love - and she wasn't even a wife, she was a concubine of a dead man. Hana is a woman born to be a vassal to her husband, responsible to his clan, bound to avenge his death. I certainly don't think she couldn't have hated him or wish him dead, far from that. She could have behaved like she did, even. But the thought of her duty - killing Yozo - would certainly have occurred to both of them, be it as the furthest of possibilities. For the story to be concluded as it is, she and Yozo both would have to be different persons: she more ruthless and cunning, he much more cynical and wise. Here's where the story crumbles. Well, I guess it is a minor thing, if all one wants is a romance with some Oriental scenery. So, all right. Sadly I read on. Then I thought about the very situation in which Hana was sold to the Corner Tamaya (the brothel). The woman who sold her, Fuyu, who is a pawnbroker's servant, happened to pick her up on the street, then brought her to Yoshiwara. Then bang, Hana was sold, and every once in a while there would be some talking about her debt. I couldn't understand why. Who was that Fuyu woman to her, anyway? What was her claim on Hana? She wasn't even a professional procuress. Why would she sell her to Yoshiwara, and not to one of the dozens of other pleasure quarters in Edo? And if the Corner Tamaya was as great an establishment as it was shown to be, they would have cooperated with a professional. Maybe they somehow knew Hana wouldn't have protested too much. It seemed as if she couldn't really decide if she liked her new life or not. One moment she basked in the attention and splendor, then she moaned about the loss of her "freedom". It is true that many samurai women at that time were left without means for a living, or they sold themselves to brothels in order to help their families, and that no one can tell what they really felt, but life in Yoshiwara would be one of luxury for women from very poor backgrounds, not for Hana, and even then it was quite hard. For a courtesan so popular as Hana was (why exactly had she became so famous, I couldn't understand), she certainly had a lot of time to wander around, visit Otsune (why not just Tsune? why not Ohana, then?), let Yozo lounge in her parlor and stuff. There was no mention of anything unpleasant, of irregularity of life, short nights, lots of alcohol, daily gynecological inspections, scarce meals. It was all prancing about in glittery kimonos. Again, I'm sure there were women who enjoyed that life, as I would want them to, but it wasn't the life described in the book. There were some great moments - the courtesans' procession, the rooms, the final party, and above all the devastated Edo/Tokyo. There were good details of Yoshiwara life: servants, geishas, streets, food, clothes and hairstyles. Then the whole Saburosuke business... I know I'm talking too much, but OMG! Why oh why must the villain be fat, foulmouthed, foolish and filthy? Does it even feel satisfying for the good guys, to defeat such a pathetic puppet? And most definitely he would not be as revered in Yoshiwara as he was, despite all his wealth. Yes, Yoshiwara was evil and all about money, but Yoshiwara was also a part of Edo, and Edo people took pride in their good taste, which had to accompany generosity. All right, a minor thing, but why oh why? The pace of the story was good, although I didn't care for the Hokkaido parts and only waited for the parts with Hana, and she and Yozo met quite late in the book. I liked Otsune and maybe Yozo a little bit. Of course the husband was crazy and evil, his family too. Tama, the leading courtesan, would be likable if not for her total benevolence towards her rival Hana. I'd have liked Kaoru, who was kind of Hana's enemy, but there was too little of her. Now, I think I'll reread The Last Concubine or something. I don't know. The Courtesan and the Samurai was definitely better paced and more interesting as a whole. Or maybe it's the Yoshiwara thing. Ah.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Yan

    Initially I thought the first half of the book dragged on for a while. The connection between the two main protagonists was also not well developed as it started only in the 2nd half of the book. However, the afterword made me appreciate the book and its slow development and I understood why the author described certain scenes as lengthily as she did. It would help if some of the important information in the afterword was placed at the start of the story; that way, the readers would be able to a Initially I thought the first half of the book dragged on for a while. The connection between the two main protagonists was also not well developed as it started only in the 2nd half of the book. However, the afterword made me appreciate the book and its slow development and I understood why the author described certain scenes as lengthily as she did. It would help if some of the important information in the afterword was placed at the start of the story; that way, the readers would be able to appreciate why she wrote it that way. Many key scenes and parts of the story were true events; some of the characters are also based on real people who lived and were involved in the Northerner's struggle to reinstate the shogun.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘We need to look to the future, not back at the past.’ This novel is set in 1868/69, during the period of civil war (known as the Meiji Restoration) between the shogunate forces (the northerners) and the imperial Japanese forces (the southerners). The novel’s protagonist, Hana, is seventeen when her husband, a commander in the Northern Alliance, leaves her to go to war. Hana is the daughter of a samurai, and her duty as a samurai wife is clear. The northerners are losing, and when the southerners ‘We need to look to the future, not back at the past.’ This novel is set in 1868/69, during the period of civil war (known as the Meiji Restoration) between the shogunate forces (the northerners) and the imperial Japanese forces (the southerners). The novel’s protagonist, Hana, is seventeen when her husband, a commander in the Northern Alliance, leaves her to go to war. Hana is the daughter of a samurai, and her duty as a samurai wife is clear. The northerners are losing, and when the southerners attack her home and she is unable to defend it she flees for her life across the shattered city of Edo (later renamed Tokyo). Hana is first helped, and then sold, by a procuress to become a courtesan in the five streets of the Yoshiwara. Yozo Tajima returns to Japan after four years in the West, just in time to find the world he left behind in the last throes of destruction. He is captured while travelling north to rejoin his comrades, but escapes and makes his way to the Yoshiwara. Here he meets Hana, and they fall in love. They are, it appears, fated to be together but there are certain obstacles to overcome first. I enjoyed this novel, more for the rich historical detail than the actual love story between Yozo and Hana. I know little about this period of Japanese history and found this aspect of the novel quite absorbing. The details of the lives of courtesans in Yoshiwara were intriguing, as was Yozo’s story as one of a number of Japanese who spent time in the west. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jodie "Bookish" Cook

    Book Review Title: The Courtesan and the Samurai Author: Lesley Downer Genre: Romance/Cultural/Historical Rating: **** Review: “The Courtesan and the Samurai” is the second book in a series of historical fiction by Lesley Downer set in 1860s Japan. This novel is set in 1868-9, a particularly turbulent year, covering the civil war between the shogunate forces, or “northerners,” and the imperial Japanese forces, or “southerners” as the two sides are simply called in the novel. This period is usually kn Book Review Title: The Courtesan and the Samurai Author: Lesley Downer Genre: Romance/Cultural/Historical Rating: **** Review: “The Courtesan and the Samurai” is the second book in a series of historical fiction by Lesley Downer set in 1860s Japan. This novel is set in 1868-9, a particularly turbulent year, covering the civil war between the shogunate forces, or “northerners,” and the imperial Japanese forces, or “southerners” as the two sides are simply called in the novel. This period is usually known as the Meiji Restoration. Written from the point of the losing side in the civil war, the protagonist here is Hana, a 17-year-old daughter of a samurai married to one of the fiercest commanders of the ex-shogun’s forces of the Northern Alliance. The last shogun, Yoshinobu had resigned at the end of 1867, under duress from the Mikado’s councillors and the Southern clans. Hana’s marriage is based on Confucian patriarchal ideals. She is expected to obey her husband as she would a father, or even a sovereign. Her husband is not expected to love her, or to particularly treat her kindly. But, like a good samurai, she is trained to fight. While her husband goes to rally forces for the Northern Alliance, she is given the task of being the sole defender of her household in Edo. And when the southerners come to the gates of her residence, she promptly kills one of them with a halberd and escapes at the behest of her servants across the river towards Nihonbashi, or Japan Bridge. There she is sold by a procuress to become a courtesan in Edo’s licensed quarters, the “five streets” of the Yoshiwara. Hana has read about these quarters in the romantic fiction, ‘The Plum Calendar’ but she has never yet visited. Downer’s descriptions of life in the walled enclave of the Yoshiwara (established by the shogunate as a way of controlling prostitution), are a tour de force of literary dramatisation. Downer has previously written about the Yoshiwara in her book ‘Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World’ (2000), a history of the customs of Japanese courtesans and geisha. In her talk for this book’s launch the author provided a rare glimpse of her visit to the courtesans in Kyoto in the 1990s: “There are five women who still uphold the traditions of courtesan, they are not the same as geisha, but they occupy the same world of the flower and the willow,” she said. Courtesans are high-class prostitutes, whereas geisha are women who sell their arts and social skills. Hana is equipped with the ability to write poetry, and so quickly promoted to being a star courtesan, given the honorific title “Hanaogi.” In her talk, Downer described the awesome appearance of a courtesan (a ‘re-enactor’ in this day and age) dressed in many layers of kimono, escorted by child attendants, with a head of lacquered hair pinned together with tortoiseshell combs. She described the “electric” atmosphere among the men on this occasion, who were all lining up for an audience. The scene is recreated in the book when Hana appears in a cage along with her companions. During this viewing she is meant to pick out a man to be her lover. Outdoor scenes of this can also be seen in Utagawa Hiroshige’s prints. The year that Downer chose to portray the life of a courtesan is crucial. At this time, courtesans were still sought after by the elite, but very shortly after, geisha women, partners of the new ruling Imperial elite installed in the newly named Tokyo, were elevated to higher social status. A few years later, the old Yoshiwara was burned down and then moved. Interestingly there are no photographs of the old Yoshiwara. It is as though Downer has chosen a period just beyond our reach to create a lavish world of high romance. The other half of this story of star-crossed lovers is seen through the eyes of Yozo Tajima, a samurai sailor, fighting on the side of the Northern Alliance, serving the historical figure of Admiral Enomoto, of the ex-shogun’s navy. Both have recently returned from an expedition to the West licensed by the shogun. Part of their mission there is to build and bring back a warship, the Kaiyo Maru (which was later sunk). But on their return, they are appalled to find shogun has in fact resigned but Enomoto refuses to hand over the navy to the southern Imperial forces. Instead he is motivated by a mix of loyalty to the previous regime and idealism gained from his exposure to the more democratic ways of the West, to lead the Northern Alliance to Ezo, present-day Hokkaido. From there, the Northern Alliance “will establish the Democratic Republic of Ezo in the name of the shogun with Hakodate as our capital and from there move South and take the rest of Japan,” as Downer has him proclaim. The army of the Northern Alliance, is here led by Commander Yamaguchi, a fictional figure based on the formidable leader of the shinsengumi (the ‘new select corps’), Toshizō Hijikata. His story is cleverly woven into Downer’s tale of star-crossed lovers. This army included crack troops some of whom had been trained by the French to protect the shogun before he resigned. Thus, historically, nine French officers sailed with the Japanese including Jean Marlin, who features in the novel as Yozo’s friend and supporter. Downer imaginatively recreates the internal tensions of such a dynamic mix of personalities. Yamaguchi turns out to be bitterly opposed to the foreign-leaning Enomoto and Yozo, who is so adept at languages that not only has he read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, but he also sings an English sea shanty to entertain the troops. When Kitaro, a friend of Yozo is murdered mysteriously by one of Yamaguchi’s men, Yozo is motivated to take revenge for his friend’s death. The defeat of the Northern Alliance at Hakodate gives Yozo the opportunity to take his chance at revenge but Enomoto, Yozo and his French protector Marlin, are eventually captured and brought back to Edo. They escape to the Yoshiwara, where Hana is preparing for her ‘debut’ or ‘mizuage’. Once a courtesan attracted a wealthy patron who would arrange for her mizuage, she could escape her debts and leave the Yoshiwara. So when the wealthy merchant Saburosuké Kashima catches sight of Hana, her fate is sealed, or is it? The pièce de resistance here is the mizuageitself, a grotesque affair where the odious merchant Saburosuké meets his match at last in a manner appropriate to this exaggerated world – gaudy, lascivious and grotesque. There is a symbolic ending for the other characters too. Yozo and Enomoto survive, their skills needed in the new Japan. Meanwhile the old-style samurai Yamaguchi is killed, and in fact Hijikata died at Hakodate. Without such inspiring and entertaining books to draw our attention to it, Japan’s less well-known history of the 1860s might be in danger of going the way of the Kaiyo Maru herself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    3.5 Stars. This was hard to get through. It had a lot of potential, and while it had a lot of wonderful information about Japan and it's traditions and culture, much like her other book The Last Concubine, which I did enjoy, though it shared some of the same issues. Unfortunately it also had a lot of dead spots and slow moving spaces. For me there was too much about the war and war fare, I see how it all adds up in the end, but I was looking more of the courtesan and her life. And it's not until 3.5 Stars. This was hard to get through. It had a lot of potential, and while it had a lot of wonderful information about Japan and it's traditions and culture, much like her other book The Last Concubine, which I did enjoy, though it shared some of the same issues. Unfortunately it also had a lot of dead spots and slow moving spaces. For me there was too much about the war and war fare, I see how it all adds up in the end, but I was looking more of the courtesan and her life. And it's not until well over 2/3rd's of the book that the lovers finally meet. I switched between an ebook and unabridged audio book, and don't think I would have stuck with it other wise. When it was good it was good, the descriptions of the brothel life, clothing, the bonding of the girls and their habits, but could have been much shorter all around. A little more depth placed around Hana and her past than on battles and such. Probably won't be a reread, but might be a re-listen on a bad night to help me sleep. The reader was great really made it come alive, with a comfortable voice to listen to, though I found her pronunciation of Samurai odd. She did a good job at differentiating the voices, though some interesting accent choices for the Northern Japanese at some points, almost Scot like!

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Basic Bookworm

    At the age of seventeen, Hana is expected to lead a life of a demure wife; however, due to a civil war sweeping over Japan, Hana’s husband must leave her to fight for the shogun. Alone and vulnerable, Hana’s household comes under attack by enemy soldiers, and is forced to flee. Seeking refuge in the Yoshiwara, Hana is suddenly sold and forced to train as a courtesan. During her time as a courtesan, Hana meets Yozo, an ally fugitive, and provides him with shelter. When an influential gangster att At the age of seventeen, Hana is expected to lead a life of a demure wife; however, due to a civil war sweeping over Japan, Hana’s husband must leave her to fight for the shogun. Alone and vulnerable, Hana’s household comes under attack by enemy soldiers, and is forced to flee. Seeking refuge in the Yoshiwara, Hana is suddenly sold and forced to train as a courtesan. During her time as a courtesan, Hana meets Yozo, an ally fugitive, and provides him with shelter. When an influential gangster attempts to buy Hana, she and Yozo must find a way to escape for their lives. The Courtesan and the Samurai by Lesley Downer is a historical fiction novel that focuses on the Japanese civil war in 1868, and contains a hint of romance. This is the second time I have read this novel, and I have enjoyed it far more this time around. The characters and their surrounding were described so well that I felt as though I was right there with them. I really enjoyed reading about the Yoshiwara, and wished that the novel focused a bit more on that. I really enjoyed reading it, and found it very absorbing. For my full review, please follow the link: http://thebasicbookworm.blogspot.com/...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Certain parts, like with Hana and the Courtesans she interacted with was fun to read as was the exciting fight scenes with the love interest. I did find myself daydreaming away through some parts with the whole wad of useless information or seemingly endless battle strategies. The ending I found slightly disappointing. I guess after all the excitement and the rich environment that they left behind the lovely dovey rubbish just couldn't get a reaction from me. I also wasn't surprised when someone Certain parts, like with Hana and the Courtesans she interacted with was fun to read as was the exciting fight scenes with the love interest. I did find myself daydreaming away through some parts with the whole wad of useless information or seemingly endless battle strategies. The ending I found slightly disappointing. I guess after all the excitement and the rich environment that they left behind the lovely dovey rubbish just couldn't get a reaction from me. I also wasn't surprised when someone shows up again, although I had imagined that Hana would have face her biggest fear and fought, even if she was going to die because she isn't as skilled. I guess I didn't like the fact that it was a man who had to be the thing to spark her desire to live and not her own possible freedom had she won the fight. We knew she could fight, she's a samurai wife for heavens sake, so you'd think after all the changes she went though and how comfortable she became in herself that she'd put up more of a fight.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kor

    I picked up this book because of the title and of course the summary. And the mysterious cover. I guess I started reading books like this since 'The Memoirs of a Geisha' (definitely worth reading!). However, this book disappoint me as it wasn't as good as The Memoirs of a Geisha and the real romance story only came in in the middle of the book. Somewhere in the middle, the main character actually started to like her profession as a courtesan. And the way the author wrote the story is great but I I picked up this book because of the title and of course the summary. And the mysterious cover. I guess I started reading books like this since 'The Memoirs of a Geisha' (definitely worth reading!). However, this book disappoint me as it wasn't as good as The Memoirs of a Geisha and the real romance story only came in in the middle of the book. Somewhere in the middle, the main character actually started to like her profession as a courtesan. And the way the author wrote the story is great but I somehow felt like skipping the part when the war talks came in. And it's pretty obvious that the Commander was actually Hanna's husband. I was glad when I finally finished reading. It was an okay book, but not a book I would read twice.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Simcsa

    The book is named The Courtesan and the Samurai, still it takes more than a half of the book (if you want the exact numbers it's 62,5%) for them to meet and a couple of pages to fall in love. Combined with a boring start and melodramatic in-the-last-second ending, I can't give it more than two stars. If you want a good japan historical book with a love story at its midst I recommend you to go for The Last Concubine instead. The book is named The Courtesan and the Samurai, still it takes more than a half of the book (if you want the exact numbers it's 62,5%) for them to meet and a couple of pages to fall in love. Combined with a boring start and melodramatic in-the-last-second ending, I can't give it more than two stars. If you want a good japan historical book with a love story at its midst I recommend you to go for The Last Concubine instead.

  15. 4 out of 5

    kagami

    Japanese setting with a Western story and Western body language, but not bad. The period immediately after the Meiji restoration is a bit of a gray area for me, so it was interesting to get a tiny glimpse of it here. I can't say I learned a huge amount about the historical period as a whole but the descriptions of life in the pleasure district of Yoshiwara sounded quite convincing. I really enjoyed the brief non-fictional afterward at the end of the book and I have a feeling it might be worth re Japanese setting with a Western story and Western body language, but not bad. The period immediately after the Meiji restoration is a bit of a gray area for me, so it was interesting to get a tiny glimpse of it here. I can't say I learned a huge amount about the historical period as a whole but the descriptions of life in the pleasure district of Yoshiwara sounded quite convincing. I really enjoyed the brief non-fictional afterward at the end of the book and I have a feeling it might be worth reading Lesley Downer's documentary works about geisha in Kyoto.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pennin

    I really enjoyed this book! Pretty much flew through it. I loved the historical setting and the characters. The only issue I had was the pacing where the book felt rushed towards the end. It took too long before the two main characters meet that by that point, there wasn't enough time to develop their relationship or the plot that followed. Surprisingly enough I actually enjoyed the insta-love in this book because I was invested in both of the characters prior to them meeting and by extension, e I really enjoyed this book! Pretty much flew through it. I loved the historical setting and the characters. The only issue I had was the pacing where the book felt rushed towards the end. It took too long before the two main characters meet that by that point, there wasn't enough time to develop their relationship or the plot that followed. Surprisingly enough I actually enjoyed the insta-love in this book because I was invested in both of the characters prior to them meeting and by extension, ended up rooting for their romance despite the fact that it was underdeveloped.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This novel was ok to read once. I enjoyed reading the chapters where Hana was the narrator but I found myself skipping chapters which focused on Yozo because I wasn't at all interested in his experiences in the war. I was expecting the plot to be a great romance full of passion but the 2 characters don't meet until your well into 2 thirds of the story. I guess one good thing has come out of reading this book, it has put me off reading any more novels about geishas. This novel was ok to read once. I enjoyed reading the chapters where Hana was the narrator but I found myself skipping chapters which focused on Yozo because I wasn't at all interested in his experiences in the war. I was expecting the plot to be a great romance full of passion but the 2 characters don't meet until your well into 2 thirds of the story. I guess one good thing has come out of reading this book, it has put me off reading any more novels about geishas.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megha

    If you have read the Memoirs of a Geisha and then you are reading this, well, it is not up to the mark. To be honest, I shouldn't be comparing this work to a master piece, but then.... The writing in feeble. There are just too many characters and too many incidents are happening along and all being so damn predictable, that I got bored with it. All in all, not a bad book, but not a great book either. If you have read the Memoirs of a Geisha and then you are reading this, well, it is not up to the mark. To be honest, I shouldn't be comparing this work to a master piece, but then.... The writing in feeble. There are just too many characters and too many incidents are happening along and all being so damn predictable, that I got bored with it. All in all, not a bad book, but not a great book either.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lewis

    This is the second novel of Lesley Downer I have read, and it was as good as the first, 'The Last Concubine'. A love story based in 19th Century Japan during their civil war when the shogunate came to an end. Lesley Downer lived and worked in Japan for many years and you really get the history and atmosphere of the country and it's people. Definitely recommend especially if you like history and romance. This is the second novel of Lesley Downer I have read, and it was as good as the first, 'The Last Concubine'. A love story based in 19th Century Japan during their civil war when the shogunate came to an end. Lesley Downer lived and worked in Japan for many years and you really get the history and atmosphere of the country and it's people. Definitely recommend especially if you like history and romance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenna ✿

    《Like the pine and the chrysanthemum that bloomed in winter when other flowers had died, a courtesan's charms endured for ever.》 Once again Lesley Downer proves to be one of my favorite authors EVER. I don't even know why this book's ratings are so low, honestly. The accuracy of the facts that are told, the details and the story itself totally mesmerized me. Two thumbs up!! 《Like the pine and the chrysanthemum that bloomed in winter when other flowers had died, a courtesan's charms endured for ever.》 Once again Lesley Downer proves to be one of my favorite authors EVER. I don't even know why this book's ratings are so low, honestly. The accuracy of the facts that are told, the details and the story itself totally mesmerized me. Two thumbs up!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Candace Drabøl

    Really enjoyable. Felt slight disappointment when the end that looked like it would end tragically turned around to your typical 'guy gets the girl, kills the bad guy and they run in to the sunset' ending. That aside I enjoyed the historically accurate portrayal of characters, places and events. Well written. Really enjoyable. Felt slight disappointment when the end that looked like it would end tragically turned around to your typical 'guy gets the girl, kills the bad guy and they run in to the sunset' ending. That aside I enjoyed the historically accurate portrayal of characters, places and events. Well written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    I really enjoyed this book set in 18th century Japan during a civil war between north and south. A war and love story that deals with all the aspects if a dying culture trying to holds its own against western influence and invasion. The book is well researched, plotted and written. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ina M.

    I was sure I'd love thus one. Samurai and courtesans in Japan, it couldn't be any more up my alley if it tried. Sadly, I found it boring and long-winded, and could not connect with the characters at all. Only managed three out of the ten CDs. And there really isn't much more to say about this novel. I was sure I'd love thus one. Samurai and courtesans in Japan, it couldn't be any more up my alley if it tried. Sadly, I found it boring and long-winded, and could not connect with the characters at all. Only managed three out of the ten CDs. And there really isn't much more to say about this novel.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    2.5 star... A love story where the lovers only meet at the end of the book so the relationship didn't really develop. I found it all rather predictable and the parts about Yozo were rather boring as I don't like war stories. I also found the end a bit out of character, not fitting. After what happened in the house, I doubt I could or even would want to call it my home 2.5 star... A love story where the lovers only meet at the end of the book so the relationship didn't really develop. I found it all rather predictable and the parts about Yozo were rather boring as I don't like war stories. I also found the end a bit out of character, not fitting. After what happened in the house, I doubt I could or even would want to call it my home

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine Haider

    Even though the plot is a little far-fetched for me, which is typical of many romance novels, i enjoy the historical accuracy and learned many things about Japan during that era. Had a great time picturing an exotic setting and being transported to a hidden world.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lin

    I love reading about Japan. I really wanted to enjoy this book, but I just could not connect with the characters. Seeing as my TBR pile is over 200 books, I really don't have the time to waste hoping that the book will improve. Abandoned after 100 pages. I love reading about Japan. I really wanted to enjoy this book, but I just could not connect with the characters. Seeing as my TBR pile is over 200 books, I really don't have the time to waste hoping that the book will improve. Abandoned after 100 pages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mashiibo

    Told from the perspective of the two main characters. Not a bad book although it did get a bit dull every so often. The pacing is slow and really the only interesting parts were in the yoshiwara.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chartreuse

    Not as good as The Last Concubine, but still an interesting read. I didn't care much for the romance between the main characters - it was all a bit too fast - but loved the detailed descriptions. Not as good as The Last Concubine, but still an interesting read. I didn't care much for the romance between the main characters - it was all a bit too fast - but loved the detailed descriptions.

  29. 5 out of 5

    ROMANTIC HISTORICAL REVIEW BLOG

    Review Rating: 3.5 Stars Review by: Lady of Misrule Link to Review: http://romantichistoricallovers.wordp... Review Rating: 3.5 Stars Review by: Lady of Misrule Link to Review: http://romantichistoricallovers.wordp...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Bell

    Quick easy read. Engaging but poor end as don't know what happens to the tea house Quick easy read. Engaging but poor end as don't know what happens to the tea house

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