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Ellis Avery: The Teahouse Fire

Ellis Avery: The Teahouse Fire

USA 2007, 465 pp., brochure,  19.95
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The story of two women whose lives intersect in late-19th-century Japan is situated at a fascinating time as Japan opens its doors to the West. At that time wearing a different color kimono would make a political statement, and Japan's most mysterious rite - the tea ceremony - became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield. We see it all through the eyes of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako's closest companion, and the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty. Avery's lucid prose will be appreciated by fans of Annie Proulx. Her eye for historical detail is comparable to Sarah Waters'.