The Gardens of Kyoto (Paperback)

By Kate Walbert

Scribner Book Company, 9780684869490, 288pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2002



From the National Book Award nominated, New York Times bestselling author of A Short History of Women and The Sunken Cathedral, Walbert's beautiful and heartbreaking novel about a young woman coming of age in the long shadow of World War II--"An intricately plotted, thrillingly imagined -narrative...A masterpiece" (The New York Times Book Review).

Forty years after enduring the Second World War as a young woman, Ellen relates the events of this turbulent period, beginning with the death of her favorite cousin, Randall, with whom she shared Easter Sundays, childhood secrets, and, perhaps, the first taste of love. When he dies on Iwo Jima, she turns to the legacy he left her: his diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto. Each one subtly influences her perception of her place in the world, the nature of her memories.

Moving back and forth through time and place, Kate Walbert recreates a world touched by the shadows of war and a society in which women fit their desires into prescribed roles. Unfolding in lyrical, seductive prose, The Gardens of Kyoto becomes a mesmerizing exploration of the interplay of love and loss.

Praise For The Gardens of Kyoto

Alida Becker
The New York Times Book Review

An elusive first novel with understated power.

The New Yorker

In precise, delicate prose, the author renders with equal power the quiet desperation of a girl growing up in 1950s America and the ethereal.

Elizabeth Ward
The Washington Post

[A]...haunting, accomplished first novel.

Carol Memmott
USA Today

Readers in love with language will adore this book.

Mark Rozzodeck
Los Angeles Times

There's something convincingly elegant in Walbert's prose, making this book a strange and stately object of contemplation.

Amy Bloom

Kate Walbert's fine, delicate prose captures voices that we don't hear much anymore....The Gardens of Kyoto is a ghost story, a mystery, a love story.

Francine Prose

This lovely, original novel...[examines] the gauzy web of fictions we spin to protect our loved ones from the barbed truths of the past.