This Naoki Prize-winning work is a personal yet precise account of the lives of working women in the Edo period (1600-1868). In the latter half of the Edo period, the warrior caste was finding itself pushed out of the top echelons of society by the rising merchant class, and repeated famines swept the countryside. Against this backdrop, a small number of women vigorously built themselves independent lives with unusual careers--working as designers of ornamental hairpins, or even scribes--in the male-dominated society of the day. The stories in The Budding Tree recount the conditions in which these women lived.
About the Author
Ian Macdonald was born and educated in Glasgow and worked for several years on Scottish newspapers before moving to Canada. He was a reporter in Ontario and Alberta before finding his way to the West Coast where he worked on the "Victoria Colonist", the Vancouver "Province" and the "Vancouver Sun". He was Ottawa correspondent for the "Sun" for five years before becoming press officer for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He made an award-winning documentary film, and then turned seriously to the writing of history. Betty O'Keefe was born in Vancouver and wrote for the "Province" newspaper for several years. She then moved into the field of public relations as a consultant and later as supervisor of communications for a large Canadian corporation. In 1988 she opened her own communications company, but decided that her real interest was in writing history. Together, Betty O'Keefe and Ian Macdonald have co-authored a dozen books.
Read an Excerpt
"Since her father's death, Oichi found that she got carried away whenever she was in the company of others. She knew that the excitement would tire her out, and when she was tired out she dreaded having to go home to her lonely, empty house-but still she let herself get carried away. At home, there was no one to talk to. Even if she announced that she had just received a commission for a series of one hundred woodblock prints, her words would only be swallowed up in the darkness of the small, four-and-a-half mat room. When she was with others, Oichi didn't want to have to go home, and in the back of her mind she thought that if she acted the life of the party her companions wouldn't want her to go home either."