The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki, originally published serially in Japan during the 1940's, offers "a detailed characterization of four daughters of a wealthy Osaka merchant family who see their way of life slipping away in the early years of World War II."
Quite a departure from the mostly British and American classics I have been choosing lately, this book started slowly, mostly due to unfamiliar Japanese names which were hard to keep straight. A character list hastily scrawled on a post-it note stuck to the inside cover helped immensely and I breezed through the rest of the novel.
What I loved:
- the characters
- cultural traditions surrounding courtship and marriage
- descriptions, especially of dress and dance
- recurring references to cherry blossoms and fireflies
Most of all, I loved how one family mirrored a country's struggle. The four Makioka sisters represented both ends of the spectrum between a traditional and modern way of life.