Plum Wine

Angela Davis-Gardner, Author
Angela Davis-Gardner, Author . Univ. of Wisconsin/Terrace $26.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-299-21160-8
Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-385-34083-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-9952-3
Hardcover - 333 pages - 978-0-299-21163-9
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As this enthralling novel opens, Barbara Jefferson, teaching English in Japan in 1966, receives a bequest from her Japanese fellow teacher and mentor, Michiko Nakamoto, a Hiroshima survivor who has just died of cancer. Barbara's superiors arrive at her apartment bearing Michi-San's gorgeous tansu chest, filled with bottles of homemade plum wine dated by year. After a short, perfectly rendered struggle with the elder Japanese teachers over the possession of the wine, Barbara discovers that the rice paper wrappings of each bottle contain a portion of the story of Michiko's life. Barbara's path through the texts, which she cannot translate herself, forms the rest of the novel. As Barbara delves into Michi-San's life and loves, an odd triangle forms between Barbara, Michiko and Michiko's childhood friend Seiji, a man who is between the two women in age, and who translates some texts. Author of Felice and Forms of Shelter , Davis-Gardner handles the Japanese mores of the time expertly, and the dialogue spoken by non-native English speakers is pitch perfect. She quietly wows with this third novel, which features a wonderfully inventive plot and a protagonist as self-possessed as she is sensitive. (May)

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