Romance

The Birth of Venus

By Sarah Dunant

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"Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family's Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter's abilities. But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra's parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man.

"Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola's reactionary followers."

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The Snow Fox

By Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

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"...a sweeping novel about three characters in medieval Japan: Lord Norimasa, whose highest love is to reunify his country and restore peace; Lady Utsu, one of the supreme poetic geniuses of her time, as famous for her cruelty as for her beauty; and Matsuhito, a samurai who apprentices himself to Lord Norimasa. When Matsuhito and Lady Utsu fall hopelessly in love, the lives of these three are forever changed. Separated for years by warfare, Matsuhito and Lady Utsu reunite but their joy is shadowed by the cruelties and the caprices of passing time."

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Shinju

By Laura Joh Rowland

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"When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.

"Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren't just a tragedy -- they were murder. Risking his family's good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society -- determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano..."

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Snow Falling on Cedars

By David Guterson

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"San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched."

Also available on audio.

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Autumn Bridge

By Takashi Matsuoka

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"In the year 1311, in the highest tower of Cloud of Sparrows Castle, a beautiful woman sits by the window, watching as enemies gather below and fires spread through the night. As she calmly awaits her fate, she begins to write, carefully setting down on a scroll the secret history of the Okumichi clan--of the gift of prophecy they share and the extraordinary destiny that awaits them. For six centuries, these remarkable writings lay hidden—until they are uncovered by an American woman, a missionary named Emily Gibson, who arrived in Edo harbor in 1861, in flight from a tragic past. Soon an extraordinary man would enter her life: Lord Genji of the Okumichi clan, a nobleman with a gift of prophecy who must defend his embattled family—and confront forbidden feelings for an outsider in his midst. Emily, too, soon finds herself at a turning point; courted by two westerners, she knows her heart belongs to the one man she cannot have. But Emily has found a mission of her own: translating Genji’s ancestral history, losing herself in an epic tale of heroism and forbidden love."
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The Stargazer

By Michele Jaffe

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The brilliant daughter of a renowned physician, Bianca Salva is thrust into an uneasy alliance with Ian Foscari, a handsome aristocrat notorious for his outrageous escapades and romantic conquests, when they masquerade as a betrothed couple to find the murderer of a beautiful courtesan.
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The Sands of Sakkara

By Glenn Meade

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A beautiful Jewish archeology student and her two suitors, one American, the other German, find their romantic interlude, while working on a dig outside of Cairo, brought to an abrupt halt by the beginning of World War II. As the war spreads from Europe to the banks of the Nile, the three find themselves thrown together in a deadly plot.
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Spring Moon: A Novel of China

By Bette Bao Lord

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"At a time of mystery and cruelty ... in an ancient land of breathtaking beauty and exotic surprise ... a courageous woman triumphs over her world's ultimate tragedy. Behind the garden walls of the House of Chang, pampered daughter Spring Moon is born into luxury and privilege. But the tempests of change sweep her into a new world -- one of hardship, turmoil, and heartbreak, one that threatens to destroy her husband, her family, and her darkest secret love. Through a tumultuous lifetime, Spring Moon must cling to her honor, to the memory of a time gone by, and to a destiny, foretold at her birth, that has yet to be fulfilled."
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Cloud of Sparrows

By Takashi Matsuoka

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Set amid the violence and beauty of 19th century Japan, Matsuoka takes readers beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell's "Shogun" and into a majestic realm of samurai and geishas, ninjas and Zen masters.
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The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War

By Howard Bahr

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"As John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee literally disappears in a hail of cannon and rifle fire from the Union Army's entrenchments, young rifleman Bushrod Carter vividly imparts the Confederate charge and its deadly consequences. After he is brought to a makeshift hospital, Carter comes under the care of a young southern woman named Anna, who, even in the midst of battle and defeat, manages to find ways to express her love."
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