THE SEVENTH STONE by Nancy Freedman


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From the coauthor of 1947's hugely popular Mrs. Mike comes this tale about the feverish fortunes of four generations of a Japanese family--a story that, with its heroics, outsize characters, and Westernized cultural exotica, has considerably more drive and appeal than Freedman's others since (Prima Donna, 1981, etc.). The Sanogawa family--and all of Japan, it seems--are euphoric at the start of WW II: ""the supremacy of the white man in Asia is done."" Meanwhile, although saddened that the family elders placed him in his father's factory rather than at war, Noboru Sanogawa, at 18, is delighted with Momoko, the bride chosen for him. But the promising marriage, at the start of which the dutiful Momoko almost admits indecorous feelings of love (""Love, she had been taught, was for the geisha""), is doomed--as is Noboru, who chooses a warrior's death as a kamikaze. Later, Momoko and Noboru's son Akio, twice rejected--by death and then by his stepfather's unwilling divorce--contains a rage that, channeled into acts of cruelty and guile, will fuel a financial empire. But after the decimation of the family during the Occupation and the rise of the wily Akio, a different war is about to be waged: ""The swords of the samurai were replaced by the spread of double-entry it was the Japanese who bankrolled the increasing U.S. debt."" Groomed to serve their father's international holdings are weak son Juro and daughter Miko, who's educated in the technologies and cultures of both East and West. Finally, by odd twists of fate and Akio's tortured perfidy, the one survivor remains to unite the two cultures. With a pleasingly soft-spoken narrative reporting monstrous events, and an energetic appreciation of the general subtleties of Japanese interchanges of speech and gesture, plus some not-too-subtle political commentary--a solid mix of rue and woo, high-minded deeds, and a touch of decadence. Addictive.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton