Friday, September 21, 2012

Sweet Saturday


Welcome back! I have another excerpt for you from The Samurai's Garden. Hanako, a widow and poor farmer in northern Japan, has help working her farm from Hiro, a former samurai. She now has more time for socializing with her neighbors, including the wealthy Widow Nakamura:

The Widow Nakamura had invited her to tea, and Hiro insisted she go. "You should become friends with your neighbors," he advised her. "There may be a time when you will be of great assistance to each other."
So Hanako accepted, bathing in the stream and dressing carefully in her better kimono. She brushed her waist-long ebony hair until it shone, and then tied it carefully behind her neck with strips of fabric. The dusty road and the long walk nearly negated her attempt at tidiness, but she wanted to look her best. Her apparel was not as nice as the widow’s lowest servants, but the widow always received her with a warm smile, making her forget her shabby clothes. The older woman, though obviously well-educated and high-born, had a down-to-earth manner and outlook on life. Reiko was definitely in charge of the house, but treated her children and her servants with kindness.
Just like Hiro.
The thought came to her as she trudged along the road to the Nakamura home. Hiro and the Widow Nakamura had much in common. With them, she never felt small. She was treated as an equal. And this was why she trusted them, and why she was able to voice her thoughts with Reiko.
Today, the widow waited for her in the lush gardens beside her home.
"Good morning, Hanako," she called.
"Good morning, Nakamura-san," Hanako replied, stopping to bow respectfully.
"It is such a lovely day. I thought we would have our tea out here in the garden."
Hanako nodded her assent, and Reiko led the way through the garden to an open structure about the size of Hanako’s hut. Under the roof, a small, low table held a plate of appetizing treats. Reiko gestured toward one of the silky cushions beside the table. "Please sit down. Chidori-san will bring the tea shortly."
Hanako knelt on the cushion, looking around her at the colorful garden. It was such a peaceful spot. Her mother had grown flowers like these all around their hut. Hanako remembered the colors, the fragrance, and the brightness they had provided to their drab surroundings. Had the castle in Mutsu boasted a large garden, with a place to sit and entertain guests?
Reiko settled herself on the cushion opposite Hanako, smiling serenely as she poured the tea. Hanako reached out to pick up the fragile cup, carefully lifting it to sip the fragrant brew.
For a moment she remembered Kenji’s mocking words when she had wanted to purchase a tea set in the marketplace. "Why would you need something like that? You don’t need nice cups for the slop we drink. It would be a waste!"
If only you could see me now. I am drinking fine tea out of a lovely cup, seated on a silk cushion in a beautiful garden.
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Thanks for stopping by! Please let me know what you think, and be sure to find excerpts from other authors at Sweet Saturday Samples.

16 comments:

  1. Beautiful description of the setting and of Hanako's reactions to it. I especially liked her remembering (I'm assuming)her husbands harsh words and her satisfaction with her current surroundings. Great sample!

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    1. Thanks, Jenna! Yes, Kenji was her late husband.

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  2. I enjoyed the descriptions and setting. I am going to have to brush up on my knowledge of Japanese name etiquette rules. :) I got a bit lost on who was who. But that could easily come from jumping in the middle. :)

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    1. Thank you, Rachel. I guess I should have set it up better. Maybe I should edit my intro.

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  3. Such interesting characters! I love your description of the setting, including the reminder of the difference in Reiko's and Hanako's homes ("an open structure about the size of Hanako's hut.") I hope Hanako will eventually be able to enjoy a life filled with beauty and grace -- a better life.

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    1. Thanks, Sandy! Yes, Hanako is starting to enjoy life much more, now that Hiro is there to help her.

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  4. Beautiful writing. I love these characters already!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ruth! I came to love them so much I almost regretted finishing the book!

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  5. Oh, dear, she must have had a bad time somewhere. I like both of these characters.

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    1. Yes, Elaine, Hanako has had a rough time. And Reiko is a great friend. I enjoyed writing about her.

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  6. Very nice! I loved the feeling Hanako has that she now has a friend.

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    1. Yes, Reiko is a very good friend for Hanako, and does much to help her. And Hanako is able to return the kindness later on!

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  7. Lovely sample! I hope Hanako's luck starts turning around soon.

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    1. Thanks, Carrie-Ann! Hanako's a hard worker, so with people like Hiro and Reiko on her side, she can't help but rise above her circumstances!

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  8. I do enjoy reading your stories, they have such depth and 'grace' to them. :-)

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    1. How sweet of you to say so, Sherry! I'm so looking forward to this story's release.

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