It is interesting how people react differently to books, just like people When I finished Autumn Bridge I felt as if someone had just died There was a moment during which I actually felt empty and wanted to grieve I felt the same way after reading Cloud of Sparrows , yet when I started to read this, its sequel, I remembered very little of that story it came back to me in visions, like personal memories There will be people who will read both books and wonder what all the fuss is about I can t answer that, how the books affected me is a personal thing and could well be linked to the numerous facets that make up my interests and maybe in the sentimentality I ve chosen a word harsh critics might use that runs through the stories Autumn Bridge is suffused with a beautiful idea it is about love and fate and about a period in Japan s history that was as difficult as giving birth the quite rapid change from a static, almost mediaeval society to a modern, industrial power When you know the outcome how do you behave When all is frozen how can things flow A worthy sequel to Cloud of Sparrows, Autumn Bridge fills in the few big gaps left by the previous book Though it s difficult to say what truly constitutes the present of the narrative in Autumn Bridge, we are also introduced to a slew of new characters, past, present, and future Perhaps that s the point, though, that for each of the characters, their story is their present and as we read, so it is for us Throughout the narrative, there is little regard for chronological storytelling and oddly, the book is stronger for it.If I had to register any complaints about this book it s that too little attention was paid to San Francisco though what there was, was expertly crafted and that the end of the book seems to go into a nosedive with its breakneck pacing It s a little jarring for things to suddenly begin moving so quickly when they have taken their time all along, time that was well spent in developing characters and events and tying them into the time jumping narrative.In Cloud of Sparrows, flashbacks were placed well and were used to add detail and show us the raw ends of the characters This can be hard for a lot of writers, even good writers, to do well Most do it so poorly that flashbacks are normally an instantly aggravating bit of the text, like songs and poems and dream sequences They pull me straight out of the story In Autumn Bridge, the narrative asides move to exist on a different plane altogether, as seemingly random placement of events in the past, present and future congeal into a masterful tale that doesn t seem disjointed at all Rather, they seem to build the story in ways that build toward the inevitable conclusion, pulling us along like cats chasing the sunlight as it stretches and slides away to the horizon.More mystical than the first, Autumn Bridge is every bit as grounded We see a culture in flux and this change is portrayed with a casual mastery reflective no doubt of Matsuoka s upbringing The final denouement is tragic, absurd, even heartwarming all at once and again showcases a talent for the portrayal of the clashing forces at work in Japan for the last 150 odd years.I cannot recommend this book or its predecessor highly enough. If James Clavell s Shogun had been as good as Cloud of Sparrows, I might have finished reading it.I am serious Cloud of Sparrows is the story of Lord Genji, a Japanese noble who allows Western missionaries to come to his domain One member of each generation in his family has the gift of prophecy, and Genji has had a vision that his life will be saved by an outsider one day So, he allows Westerners into Japan after two centuries of isolation.The missionaries are led by Reverend Cromwell and his fiance, Emily They wind up embroiled in internecine warfare by virtue of being Genji s guests Further complicating matters is the geisha Heiko, whose loyalties are split between Genji and her mysterious master patron It becomes apparent far before Matsuoka reveals it officially that both Heiko and Emily nurse a tendresse for Genji and this causes additional complications as well.The characters are interesting, the history is well researched, and the book is perfectly paced to keep one s interest I found myself drawn into the time period perfectly, and was reluctant to put this book down even when the necessities of life dictated otherwise. I read Cloud of Sparrows when I was a teenager and it had been my favorite book since that day When I found out that there was a secuel I felt like I had to read it almost as a matter of life or death.And when I finally got it I found myself getting scared I didn t want to get disappointed by the second part because the first book was so special for me I could say that book came to me just in the right moment of my life and it changed me.It wasn t the case Autumn Bridge is so good and beautifully written that it just suck my life for the major part of 2 weeks I couldn t stop myself from reading it I read it everywhere I think about it on my work, with my family and friends even on my dreams I literally dreamt about this book.In this book we get to know Genji s ancestors their lifes and deaths and how everything was connected I just love the way how the book show us past, present and future almost at the same time I felt like I myself had the gift of foretelling which sadly I don t I won t lie the book gets pretty confusing some times because it continually jump from past to present and to future every time I flipped the page I had to reread some parts because I got lost I think that could also be because I felt so excited about the book that I read it quickly too quickly some times But that wasn t a major problem the story by itself was so catchy that I just wanted to know.The book end gaves you an awkward feeling because we already knew how it was going to end almost from the beginning of the book as I repeatedly say the book shows you present, past and future as they were one so when you get to the ending part you feel a little helpless because there wasn t anything that could be done to avoid it and believe me the main characters tried hard is like sitting and watching a lion eating a baby zebra and you couldn t help it no matter how much you wish you could But don t get me wrong I have no complaints about it for me it seem like it had the right end Everything came to a satisfactory conclusion and we know what happen to almost all the characters that the book show us.I can t explain myself enough to say why these books Cloud of Sparrows and Autumn Bridge are so good and special for me My best advice could be just read it and judge it by yourself I would recommend it to anyone but that s just my humble opinion. Dramatic, lyrical and creative I found this book better than Cloud of Sparrows The going back and forth in time was a bit confusing at first, but it immediately made sense and even added depth to the setting and characters and moved the story forward by tying the loosed ends in Cloud of Sparrows This book also gives background to the pre Restoration era It s the story of Japan just as much as Genji, Emily, Kimi and Lady Shizuka s. To start off, I loved Cloud of Sparrows Matsuoka is a gifted writer, and it s a shame that he hasn t written.When I first started reading this, I was concerned that it wouldn t live up to Cloud of Sparrows, and had a difficult time understanding the book s structure frequent jumps back and forth between time periods However, it all began to make sense after about 25% through, and I found myself racing to the finish.The sheer depth of emotion and description of the flaws of each and every character made the story real All of the plot holes in Cloud of Sparrows are woven together and answered in ways that were impossible to predict The reader gets a sense of the rise and fall of the Tokugawa regime, with particular focus on the decline and fall of the samurai class The complexity and incredible plot development makes this even better than Cloud of Sparrows Not as much violence as with the first book, but the ending is masterfully crafted. In The Year , In The Highest Tower Of Cloud Of Sparrows Castle, A Beautiful Woman Sits By The Window, Watching As Enemies Gather Below And Fires Spread Through The Night As She Calmly Awaits Her Fate, She Begins To Write, Carefully Setting Down On A Scroll The Secret History Of The Okumichi Clan Of The Gift Of Prophecy They Share And The Extraordinary Destiny That Awaits Them For Six Centuries, These Remarkable Writings Lay Hidden Until They Are Uncovered By An American Woman, A Missionary Named Emily Gibson, Who Arrived In Edo Harbor In , In Flight From A Tragic Past Soon An Extraordinary Man Would Enter Her Life Lord Genji Of The Okumichi Clan, A Nobleman With A Gift Of Prophecy Who Must Defend His Embattled Family And Confront Forbidden Feelings For An Outsider In His Midst Emily, Too, Soon Finds Herself At A Turning Point Courted By Two Westerners, She Knows Her Heart Belongs To The One Man She Cannot Have But Emily Has Found A Mission Of Her Own Translating Genji S Ancestral History, Losing Herself In An Epic Tale Of Heroism And Forbidden Love For Here Is The Story Of Lady Shizuka, The Beautiful Witch Princess Who Has Enchanted Okumichi Men For Generations Of Genji S Ancestors, Lord Hironobu And Lord Kiyori, And Of The Terrible Betrayals That Befell Them And Of Genji S Parents A Wastrel Father And His Child Bride Whose Tragic Love Has Shaped Genji As A Leader And As A Man As Emily Sifts Through The Fragile Scrolls, She Begins To See Threads Of Her Own Life Woven Into The Ancient Writings And As Past And Present Collide, A Hidden History Comes To Life, And With It A Secret Prophecy That Has Been Shrouded For Centuries, And May Now Finally Be Revealed Takashi Matsuoka S Spellbinding Novel Is Infused With Spectacle, Intricately Woven, Magically Told Autumn Bridge Is A Feast For The Senses, A Work Of Truly Dazzling Storytelling From The Hardcover Edition Some readers have written very long reviews of this book but I just want to say I really enjoyed reading it It did remind me in places of James Clavell s Shogun but I liked that book as well I did get a bit confused with the constant time changes in the story but I sorted it out in the end If you want a synopsis of the book read other reviews I m just happy I read it. Once again Matsuoka amazed me I m eagerly awaiting his next book, because I simply loved both of his books this one and Cloud of Sparrows. Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka is a challenging read woven into a web of different timelines, prophecies, and lineage In the beginning, we are introduced to Genji Genji is a man of many things Great Lord of Akaoka, wielder of prophectic visions, and lover to Emily Gibson As leader, Genji is tasked with overseeing and providing his own outlook of the rapid modernization in Japan during the early 1800s During this time, we are also introduced to Emily, an American foreigner that has tasked herself with researching the history of Genji s clan One day, Emily is given a box of scrolls to look at Puzzled by the scrolls message, she travels to Mushindo Abbey with her friend in order to learn about the scrolls However, rather than learning about the scrolls, Emily learns about Lady Shizuka, a witch from the early 1300s As the setting and perspective change to Shizuka s, we learn that she has been tormented by her own gift of prophetic visions for most of her life As the setting and perspective shift back to Emily s, this is where we learn of how Genji s family gained the gift of prophetic powers We also learn that the scrolls that Emily was given may very well describe the events that will take place in her future Later, Emily is attacked at Mushindo Abbey, causing her friend to die This is where we also learn of Genji s abandoned son, named Makoto Makoto has built up a sort of grudge against Genji, causing him to sneak onto a boat to Japan with one goal in mind find Genji and retrieve answers We also learn of what happened to Shizuka and how she gave birth to a daughter in order to continue the Okumichi Clan and its curse of prophetic visions before she died Near the end, we learn of Genji s family and how his outlook on life his changed as he aged The setting then fast forwards in time where Makoto reconciles with Genji as Genji admits what he did was wrong, causing Makoto s hatred for him to dissipate At last, the Akaoka domain is tranquil as Genji marries Emily, his relationships with others are whole, and the history of his clan is no longer shrouded in mystery Autumn Bridge is an interesting blend between the past and reality as the fine lines between tradition and modernization are blurred Matsuoka s use of masterfully told imagery and details depicts the change in atmosphere of the once culturally rich Japan to a country who s seemed to lost its identity While the alternating timeline and multitude of characters leaves you confused at times, Matsuoka s unique and vivid storytelling ability easily separates Autumn Bridge from other retelling of Japanese tradition.
Takashi Matsuoka is a first generation Japanese American writer living in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Before commiting full time to the writing profession, he used to work at a Zen Buddhist temple His books, historical novels depicting American missionaries visits to Japan, are often compared to Sh gun and the rest James Clavell s series In addition to writing novels, Matsuoka also worked
- 448 pages
- Autumn Bridge
- Takashi Matsuoka
- 07 March 2017 Takashi Matsuoka