The Usurper: An Episode of Japanese History by Judith Gautier, Abby Langdon Alger (Translator)

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TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY ABBY LANGDON ALGER

Opening: Night was nearly gone. All slept in the beautiful bright city of Osaka. The harsh cry of the sentinels, calling one to another on the ramparts, broke the silence, unruffled otherwise save for the distant murmur of the sea as it swept into the bay.

Above the great dark mass formed by the palace and gardens of the Shogun a star was fading slowly. Dawn trembled in the air, and the tree-tops were more plainly outlined against the sky, which grew bluer every moment. Soon a pale glimmer touched the highest branches, slipped between the boughs and their leaves, and filtered downward to the ground. Then, in the gardens of the Prince, alleys thick with brambles displayed their dim perspective; the grass resumed its emerald hue; a tuft of poppies renewed the splendor of its sumptuous flowers, and a snowy flight of steps was faintly visible through the mist, down a distant avenue.

The Yahoo group is reading this in February and I always enjoy their choices so I read alongside. The ladies know that I am crap at bookclub reads so I shall fly in tandem – separate but together.

The story opens out in Osaka, 1615, a snowy dawn. I abandoned this just short of the 40% mark. The writing was tell not show, and radiated little spark in its dreadfully old-fashioned mode. Look at the style and verve in other writers from this period – Ms Gautier must of had a broomstick up her jacksie. NEXT!

Palace, Osaka

The Imperial Palace, Osaka was completely isolated 100 years ago

To get a feel for the Japanese Samurai fashion of the time in which this story is set, here is Hasekura Tsunenaga in Rome in 1615, by Claude Deruet:

Owari province

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