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The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

1994, St. Martin's Press

Even if you walk the same road a hundred times, you'll find something different each time. (211)

I especially recommend this book for the overall mood of peacefulness and beauty. I looked forward to reading it before bed as a calming influence, similar to yoga.

The book nonetheless takes place in 1937, with Japan and China at war. The main characters are Stephen, a young Chinese man, who has been sent to his father's summer home in Japan to recuperate from an illness; Matsu, the silent caretaker of the house; and Sachi, an exceptional woman with a tragic secret.

If you must have romance, Stephen meets Keiko, a young Japanese woman whose father is strict and disapproving, but I didn't find that part too interesting.

Sachi and her rock garden spoke more to me; the stones she raked into endlessly varied patterns represented the control we each have over our own life, and our perception of it, even in the face of suffering.

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