The Teahouse Fire

Front Cover
Penguin, Dec 4, 2007 - Fiction - 480 pages
7 Reviews
“Like attending seasons of elegant tea parties—each one resplendent with character and drama. Delicious.”—Maxine Hong Kingston

The story of two women whose lives intersect in late-nineteenth-century Japan, The Teahouse Fire is also a portrait of one of the most fascinating places and times in all of history—Japan as it opens its doors to the West. It was a period when wearing a different color kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess an allegiance to Western ideas, and when Japan’s most mysterious rite—the tea ceremony—became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield.

We see it all through the eyes of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako’s closest companion, and they, the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty. Told in an enchanting and unforgettable voice, The Teahouse Fire is a lively, provocative, and lushly detailed historical novel of epic scope and compulsive readability.

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User Review  - kcoleman428 - LibraryThing

I love books about 16th century Japan! This one was a great book, tells about the lives of 2 women, 1 american, and one Japanese. very moving! Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Japan welcomes the West in this historical tale from a first-time novelist.In 1865, Aurelia Bernard was a little girl living with her mother and her uncle, a Catholic priest, in New York. By 1866, she ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Ellis Avery’s first novel, The Teahouse Fire, set in the tea ceremony world of nineteenth-century Japan, has been translated into five languages and has won three awards, including the American Library Association Stonewall Award. Avery is also the author of The Smoke Week, an award-winning 9/11 memoir. She teaches fiction writing at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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