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Each month we will feature a different Readers Club book, with notes from the author, extracts and more. Please do share your reviews with other members and sign up to our newsletter for the chance to win one of ten free copies!
This month's book is Across a Bridge of Dreams by Lesley Downer, an epic tale of love and war, of a nation divided and a love that can never be.
A note from the author:
"I’ve always wanted to do a Japanese Romeo and Juliet and the story behind the film The Last Samurai (starring Tom Cruise) fitted perfectly.
In my last two novels, The Last Concubine and The Courtesan and the Samurai, I wrote about the civil war that ripped Japan apart in the 1860s, when north fought south and brother fought brother. Now it’s the 1870s. Japan is finally at peace – or so it seems – and shooting with extraordinary speed out of the middle ages into the modern world. New buildings spring up made of brick and stone, not wood. People who’ve only ever eaten fish and rice try beef and the first train line opens, linking Tokyo and Yokohama..." Read more
Follow Lesley on Twitter and visit her website now.
In the brave new Japan of the 1870s, Taka and Nobu meet as children and fall in love; but their relationship will test the limits of society.
Unified after a bitter civil war, Japan is rapidly turning into a modern country with rickshaws, railways and schools for girls. Commoners can marry their children into any class, and the old hatred between north and south is over - or so it seems.
Taka is from the powerful southern Satsuma clan which now dominates the country, and her father, General Kitaoka, is a leader of the new government. Nobu, however, is from the northern Aizu clan, massacred by the Satsuma in the civil war. Defeated and reduced to poverty, his family has sworn revenge on the Satsuma.
Taka and Nobu's love is unacceptable to both their families and must be kept secret, but what they cannot foresee is how quickly the tables will turn. Many southern samurai become disillusioned with the new regime, which has deprived them of their swords, status and honour. Taka's father abruptly leaves Tokyo and returns to the southern island of Kyushu, where trouble is brewing.
When he and his clansmen rise in rebellion, the government sends its newly-created army to put them down. Nobu and his brothers have joined this army, and his brothers now see their chance of revenge on the Satsuma. But Nobu will have to fight and maybe kill Taka's father and brother, while Taka now has to make a terrible choice - between her family and the man she loves ...
Like the era she describes, Downer has united two contradictory themes: love and war. Fans of period romance should be sure to pack Across A Bridge Of Dreams this summer, but those who prize blood over love in historical fiction will also find much to enjoy
Out now in hardback.