The Pure Land

The Pure Land

3.54 (479 ratings by Goodreads)
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The year is 1858. Thomas Glover is a restless young man with dreams of escaping Aberdeen. Abandoning his childhood sweetheart, he takes a posting as a trader in Japan. Within ten years he amasses a great fortune, learns the ways of the samurai and helps overthrow the Shogun - a rapid rise from lowly shipping clerk to millionaire industrialist. Yet behind Glover's astonishing success lies a man cut to the heart. His love affair with a courtesan - a woman who, unknown to him, would bear him the son for which he had always longed - would form a tragedy so dramatic as to be immortalized in the story of Madame Butterfly. The Pure Land relives in fiction the arc of Glover's true-life rise and fall, and forges a 100-year saga that culminates in the annihilation of Nagasaki in more

Product details

  • CD-Audio
  • 195 x 195 x 42mm | 458g
  • ISIS Publishing
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • large type edition
  • 0753126575
  • 9780753126578

Review quote

"A meditative work of art that is as finely honed as a samurai's sword."show more

Review Text

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. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

479 ratings
3.54 out of 5 stars
5 20% (98)
4 34% (163)
3 29% (141)
2 12% (58)
1 4% (19)
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