Today’s team review is from Jenny. Find her here https://jenniferdebie.com/
Jenni has been reading Talk Of Tokyo by Heather Hallman.
Where Heather Hallman gave only a taste of her version of turn-of-the-century Tokyo with her brief “Scandals of Tokyo” (the first installment in her Tokyo Whispers series), with Talk of Tokyo she delivers a full banquet. Return with Hallman to sumptuous and scandalous Tsukiji, the foreign quarter of Meiji-era Tokyo, and meet Suki Malveaux, a young woman who is half Japanese, half French, and all determination when it comes to her dream of being an investigative journalist.
For years Suki has nibbled around the edges of journalism, writing a popular gossip column as the anonymous Tokyo Tattler, but finally her editor has given Suki a true story and nothing is going to stop her pursuing it… not even a man (and a westerner at that!) who she may have misjudged, and publicly smeared, in the past.
As for the man himself, Griffith Spenser is an English businessman who has lost a wife to divorce, is in the process of extricating himself from a bothersome socialite girlfriend, and awaits the imminent arrival his orphaned niece and nephew in Tokyo Harbor. The only thing he wants is a proper governess to help the children adjust to their new lives in Japan, and if the intriguing Miss Malveaux can help him in that endeavor, or spend a little time with him until the right caretaker can be found, then all the better.
The two leads are on a collision course as their cultures, preconceptions, and passions tangle in Hallman’s sweeping tale of lies, truths, and love that can see past both. Lush in setting and rich in characterization, Hallman makes 1897 Tokyo glitter with diamonds, cut glass, and broken tinsel as her characters traverse the social strata and a political minefield while Suki pursues her story and Griff pursues her.
Written with a loving attention to detail, Hallman knows her time and place intimately, and it shows in every line. She also seems to revel in writing liminal characters, whether they are perceived as foreigners in their homeland (as half French Suki is), or are Japanese women ostracized for their associations with westerners, or are among the most vulnerable of society for other reasons, Hallman has a heart, and a talent, for bringing these characters to life.
Talk of Tokyo is a fast read with a lot to say about society, women, and progress. Lucky for us, it also happens to be a delicious read by a gifted wordsmith who will, hopefully, be bringing us stories from the land of the rising sun for years to come.
CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS
1897 Tokyo is no different than anywhere else in the world: men are exploiting women. Specifically, Western men are exploiting Japanese women, and Suki Malveaux holds no punches in her condemnation of their behavior in her weekly column in the Tokyo Daily News.
Suki knows firsthand when Western men arrive at Tokyo Bay there’s only one outcome for Japanese women: a child and new mother left behind as nothing more than discarded shrapnel from the heartless war on love.
Griffith Spenser is her latest target. He’s been seen with Natsu Watanabe, one of Tokyo’s esteemed war widows. Under full anonymity of the moniker “The Tokyo Tattler,” Suki makes sure Griffith knows exactly why his behavior with Natsu won’t be tolerated.
Away from her Japanese mask as a columnist, Suki never intended to meet the cad. When he seeks her out to hire as a tutor for his niece and nephew, she’s faced with seeing him day in and day out without him ever knowing who she really is.
Caught in her struggle for anonymity so she can keep battling for women’s rights, Suki’s about to learn the full impact of her words on the people behind the story, especially on Griff.