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Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel (Anglais) Broché – 26 septembre 1995

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At the intersection of Center Valley Road and South Beach Drive Ishmael spied, ahead of him in the bend, a car that had failed to negotiate the grade as it coiled around a grove of snow-hung cedars. Ishmael recognized it as the Willys station wagon that belonged to Fujiko and Hisao Imada; in fact, Hisao was working with a shovel at its rear right wheel, which had dropped into the roadside drainage ditch.

Hisao Imada was small enough most of the time, but he looked even smaller bundled up in his winter clothes, his hat pulled low and his scarf across his chin so that only his mouth, nose, and eyes showed. Ishmael knew he would not ask for help, in part because San Piedro people never did, in part because such was his character. Ishmael decided to park at the bottom of the grade beside Gordon Ostrom's mailbox and walk the fifty yards up South Beach Drive, keeping his DeSoto well out of the road while he convinced Hisao Imada to accept a ride from him.

Ishmael had known Hisao a long time. When he was eight years old he'd seen the Japanese man trudging along behind his swaybacked white plow horse: a Japanese man who carried a machete at his belt in order to cut down vine maples. His family lived in two canvas tents while they cleared their newly purchased property. They drew water from a feeder creek and warmed themselves at a slash pile kept burning by his children--girls in rubber boots, including Hatsue--who dragged branches and brought armfuls of brush to it. Hisao was lean and tough and worked methodically, never altering his pace. He wore a shoulder strap T-shirt, and this, coupled with the sharp-honed weapon at his belt, put Ishmael in mind of the pirates he'd read about in illustrated books his father had brought him from the Amity Harbor Public Library. But all of this was more than twenty years ago now, so that as he approached Hisao Imada in the South Beach Drive, Ishmael saw the man in another light: hapless, small in the storm, numb with the cold and ineffective with his shovel while the trees threatened to come down around him.

Ishmael saw something else, too. On the far side of the car, with her own shovel in hand, Hatsue worked without looking up. She was digging through the snow to the black earth of the cedar woods and throwing spadefuls of it underneath the tires.

Fifteen minutes later the three of them walked down the road toward his DeSoto. The Willys station wagon's rear right tire had been perforated by a fallen branch still wedged up under both axles. The rear length of exhaust pipe had been crushed, too. The car wasn't going anywhere--Ishmael could see that--but it took Hisao some time to accept this truth. With his shovel he'd struggled defiantly, as if the tool could indeed change the car's fate. After ten minutes of polite assistance Ishmael wondered aloud if his DeSoto wasn't the answer and persisted in this vein for five minutes more before Hisao yielded to it as an unavoidable evil. He opened his car door, put in his shovel, and came out with a bag of groceries and a gallon of kerosene. Hatsue, for her part, went on with her digging, saying nothing and keeping to the far side of the car, and throwing black earth beneath the tires.

At last her father rounded the Willys and spoke to her once in Japanese. She stopped her work and came into the road then, and Ishmael was granted a good look at her. He had spoken to her only the morning before in the second-floor hallway of the Island County Courthouse, where she'd sat on a bench with her back to an arched window just outside the assessor's office. Her hair had been woven then, as now, into a black knot against the nape of her neck. She'd told him four times to go away.

"Hello, Hatsue," said Ishmael. "I can give you a lift home, if you want."

"My father says he's accepted," Hatsue replied. "He says he's grateful for your help."

She followed her father and Ishmael down the hill, still carrying her shovel, to the DeSoto. When they were well on their way down South Beach Drive, easing through the flats along the salt water, Hisao explained in broken English that his daughter was staying with him during the trial; Ishmael could drop them at his house. Then he described how a branch had hurled down into the road in front of him; to avoid it he'd hit his brake pedal. The Willys had fishtailed while it climbed the snapped branch and nudged down into the drainage ditch.

Only once, driving and listening, nodding politely and inserting small exclamations of interest--"I see, I see, yes, of course, I can understand"--did Ishmael risk looking at Hatsue Miyamoto in the rectangle of his rearview mirror: a risk that filled all of two seconds. He saw then that she was staring out the side window with enormous deliberation, with intense concentration on the world outside his car--she was making it a point to be absorbed by the storm--and that her black hair was wringing wet with snow. Two strands had escaped from their immaculate arrangement and lay pasted against her frozen cheek.

"I know it's caused you trouble," Ishmael said. "But don't you think the snow is beautiful? Isn't it beautiful coming down?"

The boughs in the fir trees hung heavy with it, the fence rails and mailboxes wore mantles of it, the road before him lay filled with it, and there was no sign, anywhere, of people. Hisao Imada agreed that it was so--ah, yes, beautiful, he commented softly--and at the same moment his daughter turned swiftly forward so that her eyes met Ishmael's in the mirror. It was the cryptic look, he recognized, that she'd aimed at him fleetingly on the second floor of the courthouse when he'd tried to speak to her before her husband's trial. Ishmael still could not read what her eyes meant--punishment, sorrow, perhaps buried anger, perhaps all three simultaneously. Perhaps some sort of disappointment.

For the life of him, after all these years, he couldn't read the expression on her face. If Hisao wasn't present, he told himself, he'd ask her flat out what she was trying to say by looking at him with such detached severity and saying nothing at all. What, after all, had he done to her? What had she to be angry about? The anger, he thought, ought to be his own; yet years ago now the anger about her had finished gradually bleeding out of him and had slowly dried up and blown away. Nothing had replaced it, either. He had not found anything to take its place. When he saw her, as he sometimes did, in the aisles of Petersen's Grocery or on the street in Amity Harbor, he turned away from seeing her with just a little less hurry than she turned away from seeing him; they avoided one another rigorously. It had come to him one day three years before how immersed she was in her own existence. She'd knelt in front of Fisk's Hardware Center tying her daughter's shoelaces in bows, her purse on the sidewalk beside her. She hadn't known he was watching. He'd seen her kneeling and working on her daughter's shoes, and it had come to him what her life was. She was a married woman with children. She slept in the same bed every night with Kabuo Miyamoto. He had taught himself to forget as best he could. The only thing left was a vague sense of waiting for Hatsue--a fantasy--to return to him. How, exactly, this might be achieved he could not begin to imagine, but he could not keep himself from feeling that he was waiting and that these years were only an interim between other years he had passed and would pass again with Hatsue.

She spoke now, from the backseat, having turned again to look out the window. "Your newspaper," she said. That was all.

"Yes," answered Ishmael. "I'm listening."

"The trial, Kabuo's trial, is unfair," said Hatsue. "You should talk about that in your newspaper."

"What's unfair?" asked Ishmael. "What exactly is unfair? I'll be happy to write about it if you'll tell me."

She was still staring out the window at the snow with strands of wet hair pasted against her cheek. "It's all unfair," she told him bitterly. "Kabuo didn't kill anyone. It isn't in his heart to kill anyone. They brought in that sergeant to say he's a killer--that was just prejudice. Did you hear the things that man was saying? How Kabuo had it in his heart to kill? How horrible he is, a killer? Put it in your paper, about that man's testimony, how all of it was unfair. How the whole trial is unfair."

"I understand what you mean," answered Ishmael. "But I'm not a legal expert. I don't know if the judge should have suppressed Sergeant Maples's testimony. But I hope the jury comes in with the right verdict. I could write a column about that, maybe. How we all hope the justice system does its job. How we hope for an honest result."

"There shouldn't even be a trial," said Hatsue. "The whole thing is wrong, it's wrong"

"I'm bothered, too, when things are unfair," Ishmael said to her. "But sometimes I wonder if unfairness isn't . . . part of things. I wonder if we should even expect fairness, if we should assume we have some sort of right to it. Or if--"

"I'm not talking about the whole universe," cut in Hatsue. "I'm talking about people--the sheriff, that prosecutor, the judge, you. People who can do things because they run newspapers or arrest people or convict them or decide about their lives. People don't have to be unfair, do they? That isn't just part of things, when people are unfair to somebody."

"No, it isn't," Ishmael replied coldly. "You're right--people don't have to be unfair."

When he let them out beside the Imadas' mailbox he felt that somehow he had gained the upper hand--he had an emotional advantage. He had spoken with her and she had spoken back, wanting something from him. She'd volunteered a desire. The strain between them, the hostility he felt--it was better than nothing, he decided. It was an emotion of some sort they shared. He sat in the DeSoto and watched Hatsue trudge away through the falling snow, carrying her shovel on her shoulder. It occurred to him that her husband was going out of her life in the same way he himself once had. There had been circumstances then and there were circumstances now; there were things beyond anyone's control. Neither he nor Hatsue had wanted the war to come--neither of them had wanted that intrusion. But now her husband was accused of murder, and that changed things between them.

Revue de presse

"Compelling . . . heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written."-the New York Times Book Review "
Luminous . . . a beautifully assured and full-bodied novel [that] becomes a tender examination of fairness and forgiveness . . . Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true."-Time
"Haunting . . . A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper."-Los Angeles Times
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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 480 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : 1st (26 septembre 1995)
  • Collection : Vintage Contemporaries
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 067976402X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679764021
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,1 x 2,5 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 100.580 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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"The accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant's table-the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial." Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par bernie le 31 mai 2005
Format: Broché
By now you know I think this book is very descriptive. They say this is very good for a first timer. Maybe so. However one trick writers use is to write a full background on each character to keep from having conflicts later and to help with keeping them from looking two dimensional. However it is not necessary to print the entire bio on someone before they even say "HI." Some description of the environment fills out a picture. Too much description obscures the story like snow falling on cedars. And it is O.K to throw in a "red herring? now and then to augment the clues. It is annoying to throw in tons of details that are not relevant to the story.
If you like lots of fluff around your mystery and find the fluff more important then who-done-it, then you will like this book.
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Par Emmanuelle le 11 novembre 2014
Format: Broché
A great discovery
I bought this book for my english lessons and i am very satisfied
I recommend the seller and the book !
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1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par La revue littéraire des copines le 21 novembre 2012
Format: Broché
C'est un livre que j'ai trouvé l'été dernier dans une librairie aux Etats-Unis, dans la sélection des livres pour la rentrée des classes. Cette sélection est très intéressante, car on n'y trouve pas que des grands classiques, loin de là, les auteurs contemporains ont la part belle dans les programmes littéraires des lycées américains. Ce qui est également intéressant, c'est qu'on y trouve à la fois des auteurs d'origines ethniques variées afin que toute la populations américaine soit représentée et des histoires qui relatent les différentes époques de l'histoire amériaine. De cette manière, à travers les livres que l'on demande aux jeunes américains d'avoir lus, on traite de l'histoire des Etats-Unis, de ses diversités et de ses réalités socio-culturelles.

La neige tombait sur les cèdres nous parle des japonais établis aux Etats-Unis et de la façon dont ils ont été traités durant la seconde guerre mondiale.

Le décor est une petite île au large du Nord Est des Etats-Unis, San Piedro. Cet île abrite une communauté de pêcheurs et de producteurs de fraises. Au début du siècle dernier, des japonais sont venus s'établir là comme ouvriers et peu à peu ont économisé pour pouvoir s'acheter des terres. Ils vivaient relativement paisiblement aux côtés de descendants scandinaves (vu les noms), mais ne se mélangeaient pas, ils tenaient à garder leurs traditions.
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2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par argeles2 le 21 mars 2004
Format: Broché
C'est un très beau roman sur l'histoire peu connue des "Japanese Americans" de la Côte Ouest des Etats-Unis au 20 ème siècle. C'est écrit en très bon anglais avec une atmosphère superbe et un scénario passionnant. A lire!
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207 internautes sur 218 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Author's First Novel Hits the Mark 6 juillet 2000
Par David Lister - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Reviewer's Disclaimer: I grew up in the Puget Sound area and worked a couple of summers picking strawberries on farms owned by Japanese-American farmers.
Snow Falling on Cedars was an absorbing, thoroughly enjoyable read. At times an interracial romance, a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and a fictionalized chronicle of the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, this book pulls the reader into an accurate rendering of life on an island in Puget Sound. The disparate aspects of the novel are seamlessly interwoven into a narrative that allows the reader to embrace the plot, the characters, and the dead-on descriptions of the physical characteristics of the novel's setting.
The novel is narrated by Ismael Chambers, the publisher of the only newspaper on San Piedro Island, the fictional stand-in for Bainbridge Island, Washington. The islanders are, with few exceptions, either strawberry farmers or Salmon fishermen. When a white fisherman dies under suspicious circumstances, the evidence points towards a Japanese-American fisherman who was the last person to see the dead man alive. Ishmael's boyhood romance with Hatsue, the girl that later becomes the accused man's wife, provides fertile material for interesting flashbacks to the early 1940s, when virtually all of the island's Japanese-American population was carted off to internment camps soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
I have always believed that one of the true marks of a great novelist is his/her ability to create believable characters of the opposite sex. Many well-respected writers fail at this task. In this novel, David Guterson's portrayal of Hatsue rings as true as any reader could hope for.
If you have seen the film based on the novel, please don't let its substantial shortcomings steer you away from this book, which is a must read for anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.
115 internautes sur 122 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An evocation, not a thriller 30 décembre 1999
Par Doug Vaughn - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Snow Falling on Cedars is an interesting, low-keyed book about a time and a place unfamiliar to most readers.I enjoyed a it lot, both for its language and its human insights. I would never have expected, however, that this book would generate such extremely divergent responses from readers. Some think it is the best thing they ever read and others damn it as a waste of time. There is no question that much of what the critical reviews say is true: the book is slow, it is very long on detail, it jumps around in time, it doesn't focus on the 'mystery' and the trial, and the ending is somewhat predictable. But none of these things can be criticisms unless the author intended the book to be more fast paced, plot driven, and have a snappy surprise ending. The readers are really complaining that the book is not what they wanted or expected it to be - some more traditional mystery, love story, thriller type book - the kind of books that the shelves and best seller lists are full of and that demand nothing from the reader and deliver even less.
This book, on the contrary, is an evocation of time and place. It is largely 'memory' even though it is not a first person narrative. It asks the reader to relax into a poetic reverie on who these people are and how they came to the situation upon which the plot turns. The author does not push the mystery element except as an excuse to uncover more information about his characters, their relationships and the origins of their current lives.
Not everyone enjoys this kind of book. Certainly those who gravitate towards Jackie Collins or John Grisham should not be expected to find this to their likeing. Even those who read only 'serious' literature have special tastes and only some will appreciate this. Snow Falling on Cedars has a quiet voice and a simple mind. It doesn't shout at the reader and it doesn't present any concept of great difficulty or moment. The themes it deals with - love, justice, betrayal, honesty, etc - are all very basic and fundamental to narrative, and the author has nothing really new to say. Still, the packaging is pretty and the end result for the reader who enjoys the quiet, poetic tone of the book, is a great satisfaction.
38 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Brilliant characterisation and evocation of place 2 février 2000
Par A. Stubbs - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. In particular I liked the evocation of the sea, snow and island way of life. The description of the geography was very powerful and one could almost taste the salt-ladden air and feel the cold. Sometimes I would re-read a paragraph two or three times, both so as to fully immerse myself in the beauty of Gutterson's prose and in sheer awe and appreciation of his skill with words and his keen sense of observation of people.
A strong feature of the novel is the way in which Gutterson shows readers how the environment has shaped his characters, for example, (1) Kabuo's obsessive yearning for his stolen land containing the strawberry fields, (2) Hatsue and Ishmael's childhood love affair, which grows from their fascination with the sea and cedar forests (I remember the imagery of the glass sea box), (3) later in the story, Ishmael draws comfort from the forest because it embodies Hatsue for him and reminds him of their intimate encounters in the cedar tree.
In terms of evocation of place and atmosphere, this book reminds me very much of Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (or as Americans would know it, Smilla's Sense of Snow) and The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx. All three books have in common the sense of snow, the sea, sailing etc and have been favourites of mine for some time.
To me, this is a story about the tragedy of a man who cannot come to terms with the loss of a childhood sweetheart. Ishmael's war experiences impact upon his initial loss of Hatsue in many ways. Ishmael's yearning for Hatsue long after returning from the experience of war, is perhaps at times, a distraction which prevents him from realising the full horror of his war experiences (including the loss of his arm and his innocence).
I found the ending a little ambiguous. There were some hints/clues that Ishmael comes to terms with the loss of Hatsue. In particular, when he examines fishing boats strewn around the harbour by the storm and realises he has spent 12 years waiting for her to no avail. This seems like a key moment in the story, when he finally comes to the understanding that he has been waiting for someone whom he will never come to possess or connect with ever again.
Further, re-reading of the letter Hatsue sends to him from internment camp is another pivotal moment - it is what induces him to do the right thing (this and memories of his father and the high regard he was held in by the local Japanese) and hand over the information he has. Ishmael knows this is what Hatsue would have expected of him and her old letter reinforces this view.
Both Ishmael's mother and Hatsue tell him to get married and have children and the reader is left hoping that he might come to do this after achieving a sense of closure or peace by helping Hatsue and Kabuo in their predicament.
At one point I recall Ishmael asking Hatsue to hold him one last time, as though this would help him to heal. Toward the end of the book, Hatsue kisses Ishmael as a gesture of thanks (or goodwill perhaps) and I saw this as a sign of hope for Ishmael- not because he could perhaps recover Hatsue - but because he could move on from that point, with his life. Similarly, by handing over the information about the freighter, Ishmael is acknowledging the legitimacy of Hatsue's other life - that she belongs to someone else and not to him anymore.
I felt that Ishmael is at heart, a very lonely character and Gutterson portrays his loneliness so intensely that often times when reading, I would feel a lump in my throat. This was particularly the case in the scenes where Ishmael was visiting with his mother, when he tells her how unhappy he is, and when he realises that once his mother dies that he will be completely alone.
Some people, it would appear, would like a romantic and idealistic ending, but Gutterson should be commended on developing a female character with a strong sense of self. Perhaps it was that Hatsue felt overwhelmed by the intensity of Ishmael's feelings for her - like she was being suffocated. Afterall, she had no real choice but to love him from beginning. They didn't meet as adults and consciously move toward each other, but rather they met and loved each other firstly as children.
I felt that Hatsue was not only driven by her duty to her family and Japanese heritage, but her own will and sense of self-determination. She was ultimately better matched with Kabuo. She felt right with him, but with Ishmael, she felt wrong. Perhaps this was because Kabuo had a silent strength and with him she was not a possession but rather, a partner.
Despite all this, I didn't fully understand Hatsue's rejection of Ishmael. I know that it was largely tied up in her duty to her family and community. I understand the choice she made, but not what she meant by the words to him, "it seemed to me something was wrong......I loved you and didn't love you at the very same moment" But then again, even Ishmael concludes on the final page, that Hatsue's heart is unknowable.
Finally, I loved the description of the lives of the other Islanders - the defence lawyer and his frustration with his ageing, failing body, the embittered old Mrs Kleine, the passion of Carl Heine's and Susan Marie's marriage (results in much empathy for the dead man) and Ishmael's parents.
This book definately goes on my top ten list. Saw the movie recently and whilst it comes close, it does not quite capture the richness or complexity of the characters of Gutterson's novel.
36 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent novel 9 avril 2001
Par Hilde Bygdevoll - Publié sur
Format: Broché
"Snow falling on Ceidars" was my first novel by David Guterson. As always when I read a book by (for me) an unknown author I am a little extra excited. Gutersons' "Snow falling on Ceidars" did not disappoint me.
The story opens in a courtroom. Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American, has been arrested and is on trial for the murder of a local San Piedro fisherman. The core story follows the trial of Miyamoto, but the book brings in so much more. We get an interracial love story, a war story, and an unsolved mystery. All this is gradually and slowly unwrapped as the story about the people of San Piedro Island is told. Guterson has purposely chosen flashback as a way to tell the story to the different characters. An experiment that works quite well!
History has always fascinated me, and the topic on how the Japanese Americans was treated during World War II was especially interesting. I found the background information very helpful in understanding why the characters interacted with each other the way they did.
In summary this is a well-written novel, with realistic, flawed, sympathetic characters easy to identify with. At times very hard to put down.
62 internautes sur 72 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Light in Substance 22 décembre 2005
Par J. Fu - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I still find it difficult to believe that all of the most respected literary critics could be so wrong, but here I am, done with the book, and there is no doubt about it -- this is not at all the literary heavyweight that they had said it was.

Guterson's writing is elegant, I'll concede that -- but the book was more useful to me as a travelogue, taking me through the various seasons and forests/fields of a Northwestern island, than as a book of "truth". The treatment of racism in the book was incredibly superficial, as many readers have echoed. The Asian characters (I am Asian) were so stereotypical, particularly Hatsue with her outward tranquility and inward implacability (which dissolves inexplicably somewhere 2/3 through the book), Kabuo the incommunicable but virile man, wronged but wordless, of course, always wordless. All the Asians -- so silent and serious, no laughter, few tears, so resigned, and always faintly grieving. All of them, foreign and incomprehensible shadows. Ghosts, really. Guterson did such a poor job on Hatsue particuarly -- if he had gotten her right, the rest could've been dismissed as intentional ambiguity, but he didn't. It's almost tragic sometimes how uninspired his portraits of Hatsue are -- the endless descriptions of her exotic black hair, her serenity of movement, her beauty so imperturable and so still she could've been dead, or perhaps, she was. After the first half of the book, the woman didn't think anymore. She was just as inscrutable as her husband. And what's the point of reading about characters who are inscrutable, particularly when you have the nagging suspicion that they weren't just playing coy with you, playing at being an enigma, but that they were truly devoid of feeling, devoid of thought?

The book's most memorable character is the island itself. Secondarily, the character of Ishmael, who, pathetic as he is, is passably-rendered. The ending came far too quickly given the initial pacing of the book, and resolved nothing. For me, the "truths" that were supposed to emerge never came -- instead, they missed the cedars, melted into the snow, and never took shape.
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