Sunday, May 5, 2024

The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama


Gail Tsukiyama is an author whose name I first came across while perusing bookstore bookshelves back in the 1990s. However, I didn't read a novel Gail Tsukiyama had written until October 2020 when I read and reviewed The Color of Air. I enjoyed reading The Color of Air quite a bit, so I decided to read another one of her novels again in the future.

Last month, I chose to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama and narrated by David Shih. I love both historical fiction as well as Asian literature, so The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama fits nicely into both categories.

I loved the slow pace of The Samurai's Garden. The writing is solid and well developed. I also loved the main characters of Stephen, Matsu, and Sachi. The major themes of loyalty and honor which are a big part of the Japanese culture and also the themes of love, loss, and beauty are all part of this novel as well. I enjoyed David Shih's narration of The Samurai's Garden.

Below is the plot summary for The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama from Chirp website:

The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Gail Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a twenty-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu’s secret and gains not only physical strength but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu’s generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu’s soulmate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

I am giving The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!!


  1. Sounds like a really good book! And such an interesting setting and time period. I bet my mom would enjoy this one, too. :D

    1. It was a lovely read and a great pick for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.