In the year 1311, in the highest tower of Cloud of Sparrows Castle, a beautiful woman sits by the window, watching as enemies gather below and fires spread through the night. As she calmly awaits her fate, she begins to write, carefully setting down on a scroll the secret history of the Okumichi clan...of the gift of prophecy they share and the extraordinary destiny that awaits them. For six centuries, these remarkable writings lay hidden-until they are uncovered by an American woman, a missionary named Emily Gibson, who arrived in Edo harbor in 1861, in flight from a tragic past. Soon an extraordinary man would enter her life: Lord Genji of the Okumichi clan, a nobleman with a gift of prophecy who must defend his embattled family-and confront forbidden feelings for an outsider in his midst. Emily, too, soon finds herself at a turning point; courted by two westerners, she knows her heart belongs to the one man she cannot have. But Emily has found a mission of her own: translating Genji's ancestral history, losing herself in an epic tale of heroism and forbidden love.
East collides with West in this complex, epic tale by Matsuoka (Cloud of Sparrows), in which the ability to see the future is transferred from generation to generation in a Japanese clan. The mid-19th-century inheritor of the clan's visionary powers is Lord Genji, a powerful samurai warlord who favors western style modernization for Japan but faces fierce opposition from the antiforeigner element. Compounding his political troubles is his peculiar love affair with a beautiful young American Christian missionary. Emily Gibson has been in Japan for six years, doing her missionary work, trying to hide her feelings for Genji and translating a series of mysterious scrolls recounting the history of the clan. As she reads the scrolls, she discovers inexplicable references to her own life and her association with Genji's family. Meanwhile, flashbacks describe centuries of tangled relationships and events that result in Genji's rise to power, focusing particularly on beautiful Shizuka, Genji's 14th-century forebear, who has the sharpest vision of the clan's future. The convoluted tale is bursting with too many characters and jumps around in time too much to be a smooth read-a 13th-century Mongol invasion, assassination, clan warfare, romantic rivalries and an estranged son and heir to Genji's rule round out the packed narrative-but Matsuoka's rich, authoritative storytelling makes this an engrossing read. Agent, Candice Fuhrman. (Aug. 3) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 03, 2004
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Excerpt from Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka
Lady Shizuka had not changed in the slightest in all the years Lord Kiyori had known her. Her complexion was as smooth as the finest Ming porcelain, with the perfect pallor of a courtly woman of the inner chamber, unlined by the passage of time, unblemished by exposure to sunlight or hardship, without any telltale signs of inappropriate deeds, thoughts, or feelings. Her eyes, when they were not regarding himýshyly or knowingly or beguilingly, as the case may beýlooked off into an imaginary distance, with an expression of imminent pleased surprise, an expression accentuated by her high, plucked eyebrows. Her hair was not arranged into a coiffure of the modern type, with its complexity of folds, stacks, waves, and accessory devices, but simply middle-parted and tied with a light blue ribbon into a loose ponytail at her shoulders, from where it continued to flow down her back in an elegance of lustrous ebony all the way to the floor. Her gowns, too, in polished and crepe silks of contrasting textures, were of the classical type, loosely fitted and layered in complementary shades of blue ranging from the brightness of a high mountain pool to the near black of the evening sky. She was the very picture of a princess of the Era of the Shining Prince. An era, he reminded himself, many centuries past.