Four Seasons in Japan: A big-hearted book-within-a-book about finding purpose and belonging, perfect for fans of Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

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Four Seasons in Japan: A big-hearted book-within-a-book about finding purpose and belonging, perfect for fans of Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

Four Seasons in Japan: A big-hearted book-within-a-book about finding purpose and belonging, perfect for fans of Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

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This is a gentle, wistful novel set in Japan where I have recently had a holiday. My enjoyment of the book was heightened because the language spoken, the food eaten, the transport systems and the Hiroshima Peace Park mentioned in the novel were so familiar to me. Flo finds a book left behind on the Tokyo’s underground and immediately gets into its story, trying to translate it into English and publish it abroad. She does everything in her power to try and find the mysterious author of the novel, whilst falling in love with the book itself. The book talks about Kyo, a 19-yo boy who has just failed his exams and was sent to live with his grandma in the rural Japan. Although their relationships starts off coolly, as Kyo has to heavily readjust to his current living situation, both him and his grandma Ayako learn new things from each other. There are so many layers or themes that are somehow discussed in both stories such as translation work issues, Japanese culture and traditions

What a beautiful, glittering gem! This quiet book immerses you in Japanese culture and, for me at least, drives you to the internet to learn more - about the scenic attractions, the customs, the foods. It is an experience that I'll return to, even if I never get the opportunity to travel there. An affecting tale of lost souls making connections, told with wit, compassion and gentle inventiveness. Tom Watson, author of Metronome Sound of Water” was a story about an old fierce lady named Ayako, who owned a coffee shop in a small town of Onomichi near Hiroshima. Ayako had just been asked a request to become a guardianship for her grandson from Tokyo, Kyo. Kyo’s father was Ayako’s son who committed suicide when Kyo was very young. Kyo’s mother sent Kyo to his grandmother so that he would be able to go to a cram school as he failed his first university entrance exam. Ayako and Kyo’s relationship was in strain despite both of them shared long-buried family tragedy. They were distant with each other which caused them to be more astrayed. All they needed to do was to open up with each other. So “Sound of Water” was a story that centred around this grandmother-grandson relationship. This is one of the best books I've read lately in my beloved lost and directionless protagonist pursues a simpler way of life genre. Honestly, it's a real delight, especially if you're at something of a crossroads in your own life and work. This is a gentle, tender and thoughtful book, exploring literature, love, human connection, Japanese culture and the disillusion of youth. It features beautiful imagery and is crafted in such a way that you want to savour every chapter. Culturefly

It’s spring and cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Japan and yet American translator Flo Dunthorpe is in despair following the poor reception of her latest book translation. There’s another blow too as she is breaking up with her girlfriend who is going to live in the United States. However, will a lovely book she finds called ‘Sound of Water’ by the mysterious writer Hibiki restore her fortunes? Meanwhile, grandmother Ayako runs a cafe in Onomichi and is expecting the arrival of her daydreamer grandson nineteen year old Kyo. Like Flo, Kyo has lost his way in life after failing his exams and reluctantly travels to Onomichi to attend a cram school to help him get accepted to study medicine. After an unpromising start Kyo learns there’s way more to his grandmother than he initially gives her credit for. Transportive, mesmerising and beautiful, there is such a poignancy and tenderness to the story . . . written with lyrical prose that is emotive and warm. Every book worm would love this. Glamour This book is certainly something akin to something like if “Honeybees and Distant Thunder” met “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” series. I also love the everything Japanese in the story from the culture, food, language and others.

So I did that but I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I used to write on Chaucer and I was going to write my PhD on The Canterbury Tales, but I had this imaginary Geoffrey Chaucer in my head who was saying, ‘Don’t write 100,000 words on my work, go out, live life and travel and do things, and write your own book’.” This was such a beautiful story set in a story. There are two timelines for each season, one for Flo as she starts in a state of despair with her last translation not being well received and one for Ayako and Kyo as they adjust to a new relationship dynamic. Of the two, I preferred the delicate beauty of Ayako and Kyo’s. Ayako is steadfast in her habits, living her life in the memory of her husband and son and wanting to avoid her past mistakes while Kyo is torn between what his heart wants and what is expected of him. Slowly, these two very different individuals realise how alike they are and begin to help each other heal and find themselves. This is actually two books. The first one concerns, Flo, an American translator of Japanese literature. She has finished a big project and can't find a new one. Add to this that her girlfriend is relocating to America and Flo can't decide whether she also wants to go. She finds a book, Sound of Water, on the Tokyo subway and becomes immersed in the story. As she translates it, she decides to get this book translation published and so must find the mysterious author, Hibiki. So we read Sound of Water, a novel divided into 4 seasons beginning with spring side by side with Flo's journey through those seasons.The emotions that ran through me as I read those lines. I had to pause and take a minute to regain control and still I was trembling, unsure of what it all meant. Afraid that it was the worst and that would destroy me. Its a heartwarming story where I was more invested in Kyo and Ayako's story more than Flo's part of the story. Its a book within a book format told alternatively, with breaks to show Flo's side of story to get a full glimpse on the process of her discovering the book "A Sound of Water" by Hibiki to her translating it and meeting the author. Its interesting but I prefer the book Sound of Water more than reading on Flo's stories. A finely drawn evocation of Japan, of youth, age, dreams, disillusionment, struggles and strength... A poignant and beautiful book.' Hazel Prior, author of Away with the Penguins But the important thing is that you turn up, you get out your pen, and you draw one small thing, one line at a time. That's how you achieve something big. Not in one giant leap, but in ten thousand tiny steps."

Flo translates the story of Kyo, a sensitive teenager and his stubborn grandmother Ayako, even though she doesn’t have the author’s permission. This story occurs mainly in Onomichi, a countryside town. Bradley takes his readers to Japan and introduces them to the country’s history, customs, culture, cuisine, and traditions. It was a wonderful experience visualising the changing seasons. Flo, on the other hand, came off as a bit insufferable. Yeah, she is having a hard time, and I certainly could identify with her at times, but I totally agreed with her girlfriend and friend about her being exhausting for people who try to talk or to get close to her. The thing is, her character is just not fleshed out enough. We know almost nothing about her, we only see little glimpses into her life, and as a reader, it’s very hard to connect with her in any way. And while I understand the author’s intentions, I don’t think she added much to the overall reading experience. Except maybe the bits where she visits the town the book is based on, and we get an interesting look at how reality and fiction can differ. That was actually fascinating. A beguiling book within a book that delicately traces the interconnectedness of lives across generations, within families, between strangers, and between books and their readers. I loved it. Andrew Cowan, author of Worthless Men Both of these stories add up to a wondrous tale of love, loss, grief, and finding a way to overcome obstacles. It has a bit of everything - beautiful illustrations that extend the tale; awkward teenagers and crusty grandmas; and even a cat, named Coltrane after the jazz musician, with a supporting role. The characters are flawed and richly drawn. The setting is beautiful - there's temples and torii and imposing mountains. But it is storyline that gives it extra depth - it is a complex, creative novel that stays with you long after you've finished.

We have been introduced to Flo and her struggles as a person who achieved her dream of becoming a literary translator; she feels empty and no longer enjoys reading. At this time, Flo found a book that a guy left on the train titled "Sound of Water " by Hibiki. The book gets her interest, and she translates the book, although she has not obtained permission from the author, Hibiki. The second story starts with Kyo and Ayako, who live in the small town of Onomichi, and each has their own struggles and stories to share. Ayako is Kyo's grandmother. To make you not confused, firstly we go through with the character Flo. She has a situation with her translation works where she has lost her originality in her translation which makes her condemn herself for not being able to make the reader connect with the stories that she did. At this point, I admire and see through those people who work as published translators. It was not an easy job to convey the original context with proper words to the readers. The rating of the book affected them, not just the author. In this case, due to Flo slowly losing her passion, she was waiting for the moment to find the right book to translate. So there she found a book called Sound of Water, being left by someone on a train.

I like the two stories premise which is interspersed with Flo’s translation of Sound of Water and scattered throughout are some wonderful illustrations and photographs which add to the storytelling and I love looking at these. The setting in Japan is fascinating and lovers of all things Japanese will find this novel resonates. You get an excellent peak into Japanese society via Kyo and Ayako and the other inhabitants of the small town of Onomichi. If you are a cat lover they feature prominently too, especially Coltrane (not Robbie!).I didn’t enjoy Flo’s story as much as I enjoyed Kyo’s. I found it much easier to relate to Kyo rather than Flo, whose constant dissatisfaction was slightly nagging. Flo’s struggles feel forced at times. In my opinion, the resolution could have been handled better. Ayako’s story ended abruptly, while the ending of Flo’s story was not as appealing as the story itself. how did she translate these very untranslatable feelings that coursed through her body and mind? How could she put this pain into words that other people could understand and relate to? Surprisingly moving ... This is a novel that occupies multiple worlds in multiple ways ... a postmodern riddle while also making for an emotionally engaging story ... there's something here for everyone. The Times Bradley has created an authentic sense of place, capturing the parochial intimacies and day-to-day rhythms of small-town life in Japan Literary Review From the author of The Cat and The City , Four Seasons in Japan is a gorgeously crafted book-within-a-book about literature, purpose and what it is to belong.

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