The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

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The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:35 am

NAME: Fuyou


The Teahouse Fire
Ellis Avery
ISBN- 978-1-59448-273-1
Can be found in any major bookstore

Taking place in the last few years of the Edo Period and the early and middle Meiji Period, this is the story of young Aurelia who follows her Missionary Uncle into Kyoto. A fire separates them, in which Aurelia finds herself in the Baishian, the main teahouse of the Shin Family, desendents of Hideoyoshi's Teamaster Rikyu. She is taken in by them and becomes the personal servant of the Tea Master's only child, Shin Yukako. The story then follows The Shin Family, and primarily Yukako, as they deal with the massive changes of the Meiji Era, and as they fight to keep the Tea Ceremony alive in a government that disdains anything that makes them look archaic and backwards to the West. The entire story is told through Aurelia, who is called Urako during most of the story.

I loved that the story was told from Aurelia's point of view. Doing so solved a lot of problems other novels placed in Japan have that were written by Westeners. It also endears the reader to the main character, since it's easy to understand her problems with learning the language emersion style, picking up the complex nuances of the culture, and dealing with the fact that she doesn't look like anyone else.

Granted, how she comes to live in the Baishian is very unrealistic and hard to swallow. She basically wanders in and the family just decides to keep her. It takes a leap of faith, but I was willing to take it.

There's also a lot of information about Tea Ceremony. It's definitely a good read for anyone interested in that. While it doesn't really walk you through how to perform a tea ceremony, you learn a lot about the aesthetics and thought that go into performing it (This cup symbolizes this, and this scroll complements it in this way, and so on...).

This is Avery's first novel, and it does show a little. She does get a little confusing at times, especially in her despriptions. I know that she has to try to explain things from a Westerner's point of view, but it's not always clear. Experience will be the only cure for that.

This book is reccomended for anyone who is atleast 15, I'd say. Then for anyone interested in Tea Ceremony, or a look at Meiji Period struggles.

This book is NOT RECOMMENDED for anyone who has a problem with lesbianism and sex. While neither of the two is heavily explicit, they do gain a nice bit of description. Think of it as being rated R.

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Last edited by Fuyou on Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:10 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:36 am

NAME: Kohaku-chan


Just to give another opinion here, I read the Spanish translation "La Casa de Té" and I have to say I didn't like it atall! I was really hoping for a great read, but the characters just ended up annoying me. It's been a while since I read it now, so I can't remember to make a much more detailed criticism (which would probably be more useful here!), and it could be that something was lost in the translation, but I just think there a whole lot of much better books out there. Just my opinion! :|

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:36 am

NAME: Fuyou


There were things about the book that I did find annoying. I always got the intricate connections between all of the characters confused. These people are siblings, these people are cousins, these people's grandparents knew each other...

I think that and some of the misgivings I had about some of the characters and the confusing descriptions are just the foibles of a new author. Her book held a plethora of new information for me, so I was able to get into that and look past some of the elements I didn't like.

But, like with most books, there were things about it that I would have changed.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:36 am

NAME: Fujitsubo


One can appreciate that it read like an actual memoir of someone's experience as a gaijin. That being said, I kind of disliked how Aurelia didn't get very much of a happy ending. So much work and learning, but nothing for herself, really. With lack of real romance, I feel like she, as a fictional character, didn't quite get the womanhood that she deserved. After finishing this novel I felt a lot less excited, and a little disappointing. I suppose I expected it to be less depressing.

On the positive side: I got more insight on the Meiji era than I expected I would. And, I now hold greater respect and awe for Cha no yu. :kawaii:

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:37 am

NAME: Zuihitsu


I also could not keep track very well of who was related to whom, and some of the mentions of the political goings-on seemed a bit too vague to mean much at times, or were not explained clearly and later references thus made no sense. :flustered Maybe I'm just not enough of a modern history buff to keep up.

That said, being a Tea student myself, I LOVED the descriptions of the tea rooms and ceremonies and the different seasonal approaches presented. I finished the book and wanted to try all the different summer Tea options on my own, like the 'iced' version of tea.

I recommend this book for a good glimpse into Japanese culture and the changing times from Edo to Meiji. (I still think Urako should have given her tormentors a black eye toward the end there, though. :katana: )

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:37 am

NAME: Fuyou


There are so many little things about the story that I did like, or want to comment on, but they're at the end, so I've been restraining myself.

Nonetheless, I totally sympathize with wanting Urako to get some justice.

I can't wait to learn the Tea Ceremony, I'm so close to being able to join the Tea Club at Kansai :D!

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:37 am

NAME: Yuna-chan


I really enjoyed some parts of the book and disliked some but it was a good read.
The main reason I read it was because I had heard so many good things about it and that I'm a tea student myself.
But it was quite good but not as good as expected.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:37 am

NAME: Ayaychika


I read this about six months ago and I found it very engaging. I loved the development of Yukako's and Urako's relationship over the course of the book, and the outsider's point of view. I did find all of intricate relationships mildly confusing, but it didn't detract overall from my reading experience.

Like I said, it was truely engaging. I was on a skiing trip with my senior class when I was reading it, and I felt bad because I couldn't keep my nose out of it to spend time with my friend.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:38 am

NAME: KatyCrayon



I only got through a third of it before I got bored. Someday I may have another go at it, but Avery's writing style wasn't really my thing.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:38 am

NAME: ume_bloom

Ayaychika wrote:I read this about six months ago and I found it very engaging. I loved the development of Yukako's and Urako's relationship over the course of the book, and the outsider's point of view. I did find all of intricate relationships mildly confusing, but it didn't detract overall from my reading experience.

Like I said, it was truely engaging. I was on a skiing trip with my senior class when I was reading it, and I felt bad because I couldn't keep my nose out of it to spend time with my friend.

I agree with Ayaychika. Just finished reading the book over the New Year's Eve holiday. For me this book was like a door to a new world, totally different from ours.

I don't know if the data in the book is accurate or not, but there were some fragments that sent chills on my back. I got to learn more on japanese aesthetics and what is considered to be beautiful in their eyes.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:38 am

NAME: Dr.B


I read this book the year before last and I just loved it. I was expecting something along the lines of a cheep Memories of a geisha sort of think but I was presently surprised to fined that it was a story about tea ceremony instead.

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Re: The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery [Eng]

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:39 am

NAME: James


I just finished this book, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

I kept coming across it looking for books about tea ceremony, and so I eventually decided to give it a try. I went into it prepared to pretty much hate it: a book about a Western girl in Japan (eye roll), AND I bought the hardcover new for only $2, marked down from $30, so I really wasn't expecting much.

And in the beginning I got pretty much what I expected. In the end, though, it was a fairly good story with a few surprise twists. Also, it was loosely based on the (allegedly) true history of one branch of the Sen (in the book Shin) family. There isn't all that much about tea ceremony in the book actually, but there is quite a bit about daily life in late Edo/early Meiji that seems pretty accurate. Parts of the story are fairly improbable, but not a bad read all in all.

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