Monday 27 December 2021

Book Review: The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Tale of Murasaki
Author:  Liza Dalby
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2001 (2000)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Borrowed Copy

In a wonderful world shaped by beauty and poetry, ancient traditions and popular intrigue, a young woman at the centre of the eleventh-century Japanese imperial court observes the exotic world around her. Murasaki sees everything, the Emperor and Empress, aristocrats and concubines, warriors and servants, her own family. She records a remarkable place of political and sexual plotting, male power and female manipulation, as she writes the Tale of Genji, the masterpiece of Japanese literature.


The Tale of Murasaki was interesting in the way Dalby used Murasaki's journals and poems to construct the fictionalised autobiography; however, the book felt overly long and drawn out at times, and if it had been told over 300 pages rather than 400, that might have created a slightly faster pace for the action. You could read and enjoy this book as a piece of historical fiction without knowing anything about The Tale of Genji; however, you will get more out of it if you are familiar with that work and its characters. I am glad I read this, as I found it interesting in an academic sense, but it's not a book I want to keep on my shelf to reread in the future. It gets 3.5 stars from me.

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