Of Nightingales That Weep

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Overview

The daughter of a samurai never weeps. But Takiko, whose warrior father was killed in battle, finds this a hard rule, especially when her mother remarries a strange and ugly country potter. To get away from her miserable home, Takiko eagerly accepts a position at the imperial Japanese court. There, her beauty and nightingale voice captivate the handsome young warrior, Hideo — who also turns out to be an enemy spy. As war breaks out, Takiko flees the court and is forced to choose between loyalty to her people and ...

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Overview

The daughter of a samurai never weeps. But Takiko, whose warrior father was killed in battle, finds this a hard rule, especially when her mother remarries a strange and ugly country potter. To get away from her miserable home, Takiko eagerly accepts a position at the imperial Japanese court. There, her beauty and nightingale voice captivate the handsome young warrior, Hideo — who also turns out to be an enemy spy. As war breaks out, Takiko flees the court and is forced to choose between loyalty to her people and her love for Hideo. She painfully learns that whatever choice she makes, she cannot run away from her samurai honor.

The vain young daughter of a samurai finds her comfortable life ripped apart when opposing warrior clans begin a struggle for imperial control of Japan.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A colorful and romantic story of feudal Japan. Unusual andstirring.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780690004854
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1974
  • Edition description: ILLUSTRATE
  • Pages: 170
  • Age range: 10 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Katherine Paterson was born in China, where she spent part of her childhood. After her education in China and the American South, she spent four years in Japan, the setting for her first three novels. Ms. Paterson has received numerous awards for her writing, including National Book Awards for The Master Puppeteer and The Great Gilly Hopkins, as well as Newbery Medals for Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terabithia. Ms. Paterson lives with her husband in Vermont. They have four grown children.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Daughter of Lord Moriyuki

The daughter of a samurai does not scream when her hair is being combed. Indeed, she makes no sound at all. It was one of the more elementary rules of conduct that her mother had drummed into her for eleven years. Nonetheless, when Choko yanked the comb through a particularly stubborn knot, Takiko, daughter of Lord Moriyuki of the Heike clan, cried out. "Choko! You're trying to kill me!"

"Nonsense!" snapped the maid. "Just hold still, and it won't pull so much." She gave another sound yank. "Where were you yesterday? Your hair looks as if crows had been nesting in it."

"Aeii! Stop it. I'll tell my aunt on you. You have no respect."

The maid proved unmoved by her threat. "Will you also tell her where you were hiding when it was time for your koto lesson?" she asked mildly, lifting a hank of long black hair up to the light as if to show up the tangles. Then she sank in the comb and jerked it, like a knife, through the heart of the snarl.

Takiko was nearly pulled off her knees, but this time she bit her lip. She mustn't give Choko the satisfaction of another protest. "Stupid Choko," she thought. "Servants are all stupid." None of them could understand why she hid. They probably thought it was because she hated music.

Her concentration shifted from the pain in her scalp to the contemplation of her secret.

She smiled inwardly. If the rest of the household only knew. She could remember vividly the day that the truth had occurred to her. The rain was beating against the wooden shutters. In the dim lamplight, Aunt was pressing Takiko's small fingers down uponthe strings and guiding her right hand as the plectrums attached to her fingers plucked the strings of the koto. Suddenly she knew. There was no music inside her aunt, who was breathing on her neck and singing the Chinese song in a harsh, aged voice. No. The music was inside her--Takiko. She was not simply a samurai's daughter who had to be forced to learn the arts of entertainment befitting her station; she was a maker of music.

From that day, nearly a year ago, she could hardly bear to take direction from her aunt, for Lady Uchinaka's playing was square and precise, like the earnest brushstrokes of a rather clever beginner, while the music within Takiko danced like the sweeping calligraphy of a master artist. She knew this. But she could not explain it to anyone, because the music within her head had not yet reached her fingertips. If she tried to talk about it, she might be scolded for her arrogance, or worse yet, she might be laughed at.

"That's better," Choko was saying. "Now you're behaving more like the daughter of a samurai."

Takiko listened carefully for the hidden laughter. Choko's tone appeared ordinary, but servants had so many ways of sneering. Everyone had pretended to be impressed when Lord Kiyomori--Prime Minister, military commander of the nation, grandfather and protector of the infant Emperor, and chief of the Heike clan-had summoned her father to his presence: "What an honor! Lord Kiyomori has never forgotten our Lord Moriyuki's brilliance and courage during the uprisings twenty years ago!" "When the Genji clan threaten, doesn't Lord Kiyomori always call first upon Lord Moriyuki?" "Yes, yes. Lord Moriyuki is the sword in our commander's hand." They had bubbled on like sulphur springs; and she like a foolish child had been so proud.

But yesterday, as she lay hidden in the shed behind the garden, she had heard their true thoughts: "Why on earth would Lord Kiyomori send for him? He's like an old turnip pickled for twenty years in a barrel of rice wine." Takiko had been unable to recognize the voice, muffled as it was by the wall of the shed. But she had heard the laughter, no longer hidden, that greeted the remark. It had washed over her like something filthy.

"There," said Choko, resting back on her heels. "You are almost presentable again. Your father is waiting to see you."

"My father's back? Why didn't you tell me?"

"You could hardly have gone to him looking the way you did this morning."

Takiko jumped to her feet.

"Don't run," Choko warned. "It isn't proper."

Takiko gave an impatient ummph and slowed her step, not for Choko's sake, for her father's.

Lord Moriyuki was sitting cross-legged before a small table. There was a lacquer wine cup on the table but he seemed to be ignoring it. She could never remember seeing him look quite so noble before, His hair was bound neatly into a samurai topknot, and he was wearing a blue silk blouse with great full trousers of deep green. Takiko's mother was kneeling, eyes downcast, in a far comer of the room. It was an important occasion. Takiko bowed her head to the matting and murmured a formal greeting which she had once heard her aunt give to an uncle of the Emperor.

'What a pretty child," her father said. "And such lovely manners. She'll make a brilliant marriage, Chieko. Though I may not live to see it."

Takiko brought her forehead off the mat. It was even more serious than she had first thought. Her father only used that tone of voice for state funerals.

"I have come home to say farewell, my child. There is rebellion fomenting in the north." His voice was rich, his grammar elegant. The child watched him, her chest filling with pride. He paused and took a sip from the cup before him. His eyes closed as he savored it. He cleared his throat and continued. "Our Lord Kiyomori has chosen us to put the traitors to the sword."

"Oh, Father! How wonderful!"

Something like a sob came from the direction of her mother. Takiko turned to her, puzzled. Her father also turned his head.

"Woman, you are the daughter and the wife of samurai."

Chieko put a small pale hand across her mouth...

Of Nightingales That Weep. Copyright © by Katherine Paterson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2008

    For those in doubt of this book...

    When I first picked up a copy of this book for my summer reading assignment I was in doubt. I believed it might bland or boring. I thought wrong. This is a beautifully descriptive story of a girl that you and me can easily relate to. It's an easy read and highly enjoyable. If you are looking for a book that you get a great deal out of, 'Of Nightingales That Weep' is most definitely for you. It's a new favorite added to my list. You won't be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2008

    A great book discovered entirely by chance

    I chose this book entirely by chance for a book review in Japanese class. I had read 'Bridge to Terabithia' so I chose this book on the merit of the author. I must admit I was very impressed by the historical acuracy and evidence of reaserch. I was happy with the end, I hate 'Hollywood' style endings 'and this was anything but'. This ending was unexpected but I think it worked out as far as the story is concerned. I don't want to ruin the end, but I just love the final remark. It's a perfect way to end a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    meh

    I thought this book was really good and it taught you Japanease life in the old days. But I hate the ending, it was weird. I can't believe she would marry her step-father and that Hideo would just give up on her just because she was working now and her skin is not pale anymore and that she has that scar.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this book in my English class, and was sadly disappointed. The beginning of the book reflected deeply on Japanese culture, but, as the plot went on, it steadily got worse. Takiko's choice of actions is incredibly horrifying, and hints of having sexual intercourse is quite vivid. This is what is commonly known as a 'cheesy romance novel'. I would definitely never recommend this book to anyone. It's absolutely deppressing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2007

    Takiko

    I really enjoyed this book. It was fun reading about the hard decisions Takiko had to make, through good times and bad. Katherine Paterson really showed emotions and feeling in this book. The only part which I thought was kind of weird was at the end where Takiko marries her stepdad. But overall, it was GREAT! I had to read this book for a project, and i enjoyed it a lot. I hope many kids are able to read this book and see it the way i do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2005

    Takiko Must Choose...

    Takiko, the daughter of a samurai, must choose to stay with her loving mother and step-brother or to leave for the imperial court. While on an errand, Takiko meets an espionage spy from the 'other side,' and he captures her heart. When her ugly step-father Goro comes to the imperial fort during the time of a Genji attack, Goro asks her to come back home, for her mother is expecting a baby. Because of Hideo, whom Takiko had only met a couple of times, she refuses Goro's offer, and decides to stay an aid for the young Emperor. Takiko learns the hard way that nothing should ever come between family. One reason that I question this book's excellence is because of Takiko's horrible judgement when she decided not to go back to her mother. This book's plotline is not crystal clear, but it does have lots of good description. I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to read a sad book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2005

    i love this book

    it is interesting and it makes me think iam takiko

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2005

    Great Book

    Beautiful. This was one of my favorite books as a child, and I still think about it to this day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    Okay, I Suppose

    'The daughter of a samurai never weep'- a mantra often used around Takiko, the 11-year-old daughter of a recently deceased samurai while fighting in the feuding war between the Genji and Heike. Her mother, Chieko, remarried an unsightly potter named Guro. Takiko, who sings and plays a Japanese instrument, the koto, is chosen to perform for the imperial court. While serving her time in court, Takiko becomes infatuated with Hideo, who is on an espionage for the Genji- the enemy of her people. Meanwhile, Takiko's mother and half-brother are inflicted with the plague, and Guro insisted that she come home to assist her family to health. Takiko refused. The plague deteriorates, and Chieko and Ichiro are hanging by a thread. What ever shall Takiko do? Will her love betray her? I've read this book in the 7th grade, and it was moderately delectable. However, the novel includes some suggestive concepts, such as incest and sexual intercourse. I recommend it to zealous historical fiction fanatics and people fervent for Japanese culture. As for those who tend to have callow reaction to certain contents mentioned above, I suggest you stay away. Good luck, anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2004

    Spectacular book!

    This book was really good. It had a great plot along with telling you all about life in Japn. I loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2003

    Still reading book

    So far this book is really good. It has a alot of characters and it gives you an idea what Japan really looked like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2002

    Read now!

    This was a very inspiring and lovely book. It really gives you insight on how medieval Japan really was, and how honor was so important, yet not important at all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    READ THIS, YOU MUST READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book was soo good. It had a lot character growth and some real-life problems. It was a sweet book and was just incredibly wonderfull!! It gave you the idea of what life was like in ancient Japan.(the time mentioned in the book was 1128)Please read this exellent book!!^_^

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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