The Pure Land [NOOK Book]

Overview

The year is 1858. Thomas Glover is a restless young man with dreams of escape. Abandoning his childhood sweetheart, he takes a posting as a trader in Japan. Within ten years he earns a great fortune, learns the ways of the Samurai and helps to overthrow the Shogun. Yet beneath his astonishing success lies a man cut to the heart by an affair with a beautiful courtesan, a lover who, unknown to Glover, would bear him a son.

Based on the true-life ...

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The Pure Land

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Overview

The year is 1858. Thomas Glover is a restless young man with dreams of escape. Abandoning his childhood sweetheart, he takes a posting as a trader in Japan. Within ten years he earns a great fortune, learns the ways of the Samurai and helps to overthrow the Shogun. Yet beneath his astonishing success lies a man cut to the heart by an affair with a beautiful courtesan, a lover who, unknown to Glover, would bear him a son.

Based on the true-life story that inspired Madame Butterfly, The Pure Land is a tale that will linger.

Alan Spence is an award-winning poet and playwright, novelist and short-story writer. He is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also Artistic Director of the annual WORD Festival.

textpublishing.com.au

'Not merely an engaging and vivid historical novel, but also a meditative work of art that is as finely honed as a Samurai's sword...A page-turner of the first order.' The Times

'Astonishing in its breadth, depth and ambition...a beautifully written modern epic.' Irish Independent

'Spence has chosen the perfect subject for historical fiction: Glover is a charismatic character, this is a fascinating period in Japan's annals and the politics and history are so integral to the plot that one is as beholden to the fact as the fiction...History, though never emphasised at the expense of narrative, is brought thrillingly alive.' Age

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Scottish writer Spence (Stone Garden) fictionalizes the life of Thomas Glover, a 19th-century Scots entrepreneur who built a mercantile empire in Japan, and whose life inspired Madame Butterflyand Miss Saigon. In 1858, the young Glover, son of a coast guard officer, works as a clerk in Scotland. He lives with his family, but longs to see the world, and takes a job in Japan with Jardine, Mathieson & Co., a British trading house. Soon, Glover is also working as an independent trader in arms and opium, among other things. As he forms connections with a number of different Japanese clans, Glover falls in love with a courtesan, and the consequences last for generations. He also slowly gets wrapped up in the fate of Japan, as the country makes the transition away from a feudalism fraught with clan violence. Spence opens this lively and epic historical narrative in 1945, at the moment of the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki. Thoughtful and vivid, the novel adds rich detail to a life known mostly in broad strokes. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Fictionalized biography of the young adventurer-turned-businessman who helped shape modern Japan and may have inspired Madame Butterfly. Scottish writer Spence's fourth work of fiction (Way To Go, 2004, etc.) is a muscular historical novel focusing on one man's contribution to Western traders' penetration of the hostile East. Aberdeen-based Thomas Glover's youthful appetite for risk and opportunity is given full scope when he lands a job in Japan in 1859, working for traders Jardine, Mathieson & Co. Ambitious, hardworking and instinctively entrepreneurial, Glover soon has his own import/export business in Nagasaki, trading tea, silk, gold and anything else he thinks will turn a profit, including weapons. He disregards advice from the studiously neutral British not to get involved in local politics, supporting the Choshu clan that eventually leads rebel forces to overthrow the shogun and propel Japan into modernity. Female characters feature little and sadly in this story. Glover leaves behind an early romance and a son in Scotland; his first Japanese marriage fails when a premature child dies; another Japanese love, Maki, brings up his son Tomisaburo alone, thinking Glover is back in Europe. By the time the misunderstanding is cleared up, he has a new wife and a young daughter, but offers to take in Tomisaburo and give him a better life. Maki hands over her son, then throws herself into the river. Glover loses one fortune but moves to Tokyo and makes another; he dies in 1911, by which time Japan is becoming industrialized. Tomisaburo lives to see the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki. A colorful, empathetic, melancholy-tinged portrait of a Victorian colossus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802197801
  • Publisher: Canongate U.S.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,317,111
  • File size: 503 KB

Meet the Author

Alan Spence is an award-winning poet and playwright, novelist and short-story writer. He is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also Artistic Director of the annual WORD Festival.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    A great read.

    A great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A very interesting true story!

    Thomas Glover,a young boy in his teens is given the opportunity to cross the world and become part of the trading world in Japan. The story takes places in 1800s, when traveling across the ocean takes months at a time and when the trading business between continents is still dominated by hostility and old regimes. Determined to go beyond his little home town, he accepts the offer and embarks on a journey that will forever change not only his and his family's life but the life of entire nations. Soon after he sets foot in Japan, he becomes a respected individual in the trading business and his courage and determination to help Japan take full advantage of its potential eventually lead to the overthrow of Shogun. Glover leads Japan to a position of power: building their own ships and exploiting their own natural resources. But in spite of his success and financial gain in the business world, Tom Glover's personal life is dominated by uncertainty and pain. His love affairs have unexpected outcomes that will change the course of his life in as much of a drastic way as any other decision that he makes. This is a remarkable true story that is full of action, passion, love and exotism. I enjoyed it to the fullest and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in getting a better understanding of many aspects related to Japan's development as well as those who enjoy tumultuous love stories.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    The Pure Land gives a spark of adventure to the historic life of Thomas Glover and a new spin on the Madame Butterfly epic.

    In The Pure Land, Alan Spence has added personality to the textbook historic figure of Thomas Blake Glover and his struggle to modernize Japan and overthrow the Shogun in the 1860s. He creates an atmosphere of pre-modernized Japan that is mysterious and exiting. As an entrepreneur, Thomas Glover befriends and helps battling clans to end the reign of the Shogun and restore power to the Emperor. At short intervals in between, love stories blossom and climax at the end of the story, revealing the author's interesting idea on the Madame Butterfly story. (He hints that Tsuru, his wife, may not have been his soul mate...)

    Anyone looking for adventure in a foreign land should read this novel. However, if you're looking for a love story through and through, keep in mind that you'll only be reading short intervals. I would say that even though it seems that romance was an important part of his life, it has become a side note in the grand adventure of Thomas Glover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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