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Extended Audio Sample Plum Wine, by Angela Davis-Gardner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (876 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Angela Davis-Gardner Narrator: Linda Stevens Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781436147095
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Critically acclaimed author Angela Davis-Gardner’s Plum Wine earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, which hailed the “wonderfully inventive plot” and a “protagonist as self-possessed as she is sensitive.” Set in 1960s Japan, Plum Wine is a powerful tale about cultural differences, romantic hardships, and the legacy of Hiroshima. An American teaching English in Tokyo, Barbara Jefferson receives an unusual bequest after the death of her colleague and closest friend, Michiko Nakamoto. In a chest are bottles of homemade plum wine, one for each year from 1939 to the present. The paper wrappings on the bottles are covered with Michiko’s life story, so Barbara gets help translating from Michiko’s childhood friend, a man named Seiji. As the two enter a complicated love affair, their fates become tied to the tragedies and secrets of the past. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A mystery that unfolds as beautifully, delicately, and ceremoniously as a lotus blossom. One of the most memorable novels I have read in many years.” Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author
  • “A wonderfully romantic and well-composed novel…With such simple, stark, and lovely prose, Davis-Gardner turns this trip back to Japan in the late 1960s into a believable excursion into the deep heart of good young woman and her decent but damaged foreign friends, and into the minefield of questions that linger in American military strategy and foreign policy having to do with the use of nuclear weapons. Thus a novel that stars out in what appears to be a postmortem mood opens itself, and the sensitive reader, to life rather than death.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A sparely written, powerful novel…[Davis-Gardner’s] deeper story of war and its indiscriminate, crippling effects on innocent lives gives this book a timeless currency.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Enthralling…Davis-Gardner handles the Japanese mores of the time expertly, and the dialogue spoken by nonnative English speakers is pitch perfect. She quietly wows with this third novel, which features a wonderfully inventive plot and a protagonist as self-possessed as she is sensitive.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Davis-Gardner’s exceptionally sensitive and enveloping novel illuminates with quiet intensity, psychological suspense, and narrative grace the obdurate divide between cultures, the collision between love and war, and, most piercingly, the horrific legacy of Hiroshima. But Davis-Gardner’s ravishing tale also celebrates the solace of stories and the transcendent bonds people form under the cruelest of circumstances.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Everyone in this book has a secret, a private hurt or a hidden shame, but Davis-Gardner is not interested in melodrama. Even the most disturbing revelations are dispassionately delivered; they create a deep and quiet resonance, rather than cheap sensation…[An] elegant, moving novel.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen Barker | 2/13/2014

    " I am aware this is a fictional story with historical elements intertwined, but I find the story to be predictable and realistic. I have spent some time in Japan (3 years). Based on this experience, I find it very difficult to read this book and pretend that Michi would give an American that she just met one year prior to her death such a rich part of her Asian culture. It was also hard to believe that Barbara would not have wondered why Michi did not give Seiji, her Asian colleagues, the school, or the Museum in Hiroshima her writings before giving it to Barbara. Even Japanese people who have embraced the American way of life still practice their traditions and embrace their culture emphatically and for her to give Barbara her tansu that her father built and the writings of her mother does not make common sense to me. Next, her relationship with Seiji. In Japan, a Japanese man with an American women was rare in 1990(my last year there). Again, I could not wrap my mind around this one. In 3 years I did not see one occurence of a Japanese man with an American woman unless it was a paid, very discreet arrangement. But Japanese women with men of other races and cultures was a routine occurence. The few Japanese women I had the privilege to know who dated and/or married outside of their culture had difficulties with their familial relationships. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb | 2/9/2014

    " I am enjoying this book, especially the friendship between Seiji and Barbara. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mara | 2/5/2014

    " I felt that having very little concept of Japanese culture made this book hard for me to read. I felt like I was missing crucial subplots and was only able to do a surface read. The main character, Barbara, was annoying to me at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Anne | 1/30/2014

    " I like this book set in Japan 20 years after the bombing of Hiroshima. Since I have not read much about this culture, it was interesting to learn some of the culture and have a personalized picture of the effects of the bombing on some of the ordinary citizens of Hiroshima. It was interesting to learn that these survivors often kept that fact about themselves secret because they were considered outcasts of society. I was not too impressed with the main characters and that is what kept me from really liking the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maam | 1/29/2014

    " I listened to this on CD for which I'm thankful. Don't think i could have handled all the Japanese words and names well if I hadn't heard them. The story is interesting from a historical and cultural point of view in regards to Japan and Hiroshima but the main characters just didn't grab me or draw me in. Warning: if you do listen to it, there are some pretty graphic scenes, I ended up skipping to the next segment several times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erica | 1/25/2014

    " A wonderful and compelling easy read. Makes you thirsty for wine. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deanna Shelor | 1/11/2014

    " Read this almost in one sitting. As wonderful as Peony in Love and Snowflower and the Secret Fan "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 12/28/2013

    " This book makes one think about things pertaining to the war that you normally don't. I found it very compelling and could not put it down. Nice drinking some plum wine while reading also! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Donna Ollis | 12/6/2013

    " I just could not get 'in' to this book. First of all, I didn't like the main character and found the story line hard to follow. A disappointment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 11/23/2013

    " very emotional - not the type of book i typically read, but i really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beckie | 11/8/2013

    " This book began better than it ended. By the end of the book, I was annoyed with both of the main characters. I learned a lot about Hiroshima though so I enjoyed the history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judi Diab | 10/27/2013

    " Interesting story about the gift an older woman from a different culture leaves to a young American teacher. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beth | 2/13/2013

    " Although the first few chapters didn't really draw me in, once I got started I really enjoyed this book. The story is gently told with realistic, touching characters. One of the few books I've read lately that left me wanting more, and I hope someday there will be a sequel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/2/2013

    " Loved it and I wanted more, what happens next? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea Sharp | 10/16/2012

    " This novel has some interesting insights into how the Hiroshima bombing affected its survivors. I don't know if they're accurate, but it definitely makes you think. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debra | 9/7/2012

    " A book about the effects of the bomb on the history and present of Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie (Steph&AndyS) | 6/4/2012

    " This book was touching. It gave me a perspective into the life of someone who had to deal with being Japanese during the aftermath of the atomic bomb. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 5/23/2012

    " A poignent book about love and mothers set in Vietnam War era Japan for a young American woman teaching English and a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 2/16/2012

    " An interesting perspective of the terrible tragedy of Pearl Harbor told through the eyes of a native. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peggy Truett | 11/25/2011

    " Though it was an engaging story, I kept wondering how accurately the cultural nuances were portrayed. Do wish the process of creating plum wine had been described! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 10/25/2011

    " I read this book as part of my book club and I enjoyed it. Although I didn't love the book it was an interesting story that taught me a bit about Japan shortly after World War II. We have not yet met as a book group to discuss the story so I'm very interested to hear what the other women had to say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 8/28/2011

    " I was studying Asian art history so read this book to learn more about their culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Olivia | 7/4/2011

    " I went to the library to pick out a random book and I found this. I thought it was very slow in the beginning but it got better towards the middle and the end. I'm not a big fan of the writing style, but it was an OK book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 6/17/2011

    " Although this book is very slow moving, it is ultimately a tender and tragic love story, filled with mystery and the tragedy of the hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie | 2/25/2011

    " i could not get into this book.
    a little too slow paced for me, but there were some nice story lines.
    maybe place this book on the back burner when you have nothing else to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 2/21/2011

    " I would give it 3 1/2 stars. Interesting to know more about Hiroshima. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 1/25/2011

    " An intimate look 60 years later into the little known world of the Japanese who survived the bombing at Hiroshima. Part mystery and part history lesson, this novel will provide American readers with an interesting perspective on the hidden consequences of the atomic bombings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stefan | 11/24/2010

    " Enthralling and tough with exploration of Hiroshima survivors and Vietnam War references. Have not touched on the Atom Bomb story for many years. A disturbing and very well crafted book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 11/15/2010

    " I loved this book. So poetic and beautiful. This book was a wonderfully romantic read filled with intrigue and mystery to the last page. A rare gem. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 9/6/2010

    " I enjoyed most of the book. I feel like I learned about the culture in ways that I hadn't before. Not a heavy read but good for a trip. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kyri | 9/6/2010

    " nice and sweet...wish it had a different ending, but cultural differences will sometimes override one's real desires "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judy | 8/8/2010

    " North Carolina author with a NC character.....young American girl in mid-60's teaching English at a small Japanese university is bequeathed an unusal gift. Really, really great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie | 7/27/2010

    " I really enjoyed this book. I seem to be drawn to books that take place in Japan lately, my last one,The Laty and the Monk; Four Seasons in Kyoto, was one I really liked as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 7/11/2010

    " A wonderful read about Japenese culture. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the aftermath of the war intwined with beautidful love story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sera | 4/15/2010

    " A formulaic writing style. This book annoyed me. I read it for my peace corp book club. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 2/27/2010

    " This was a good read in preparation for my Japan trip - especially with the insight into Hiroshima. The romatic side-plot is a little on the cheesy side, but the historic aspect of the story is quite informative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 2/22/2010

    " Excellent novel. Love Asian culture, characters, history & subtle beauty of the prose. "

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