Tokyo, 1912. The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders - rich provincial familes, a new and powerful political and social elite.
Kiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family - members of the waning aristocracy - but he is not one of them.
Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between old and new, and his feelings for the exquisite, spirited Satoko, observed from the sidelines by his devoted friend Honda.
When Satoko is engaged to a royal prince, Kiyoaki realises the magnitude of his passion.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 11/03/1999
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099282990
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Review by missizicks
I didn't know what to expect with this book. It turned out to be beautiful and sad. Set at the transition from Meiji to Taisho, with Japan still a contradiction of feudal tradition and modernity, it explores the love affair of two aristocratic young adults and the consequences of forbidden love. The observance of social niceties contrasts with the passionate yearning for freedom, with the way of life of the old guard slowly giving way to the Westernised ways of the new rich. As much as it's a commentary on society, though, it's an old fashioned love story in the mould of Abelard and Héloise or Romeo and Juliet. Mishima's prose is delicately elegant. I was carried along effortlessly by it.