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Download The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto Audiobook, by Pico Iyer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (643 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pico Iyer Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN: 9781455176403
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When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today—not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.

All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.

Vivacious, attractive, thoroughly educated, speaking English enthusiastically if eccentrically, the wife of a Japanese “salaryman” who seldom left the office before 10 p.m., Sachiko was as conversant with tea ceremony and classical Japanese literature as with rock music, Goethe, and Vivaldi. With the lightness of touch that made Video Night in Kathmandu so captivating, Pico Iyer fashions from their relationship a marvelously ironic yet heartfelt book that is at once a portrait of cross-cultural infatuation—and misunderstanding—and a delightfully fresh way of seeing both the old Japan and the very new.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Iyer] is a sharp-eyed and thoughtful observer, and he is successful in evoking the life of Kyoto’s malls, temples, and back streets, moonlit nights on the water, and the vulgarity of the Westernized nightclub and amusement quarter.”

    New Yorker

  • “With his light touch for travel writing, Iyer selectively weaves the plaintive love poems and stories of Buddhist priests into his narrative. His sensitive treatment is recommended for most travel collections.”

    Library Journal

  • “A personal and evocative work filled with much gentle humor, intelligence and insight.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • New York Times Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen Dannenhold | 2/13/2014

    " A beautiful love story that also captures the fulfillment of a life lived with focus and spirituality. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zedder | 2/7/2014

    " I had pretty high expectations going into this, because I've really liked everything else I've read by Iyer and because it's widely recommended. But it's only alright. It's hard to take his fascination with Zen seriously, for instance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 2/3/2014

    " A lucky find at Moe's books in Berkeley! Gauzy wistful travel memoir about a gaijin and a Japanese housewife who become friends in Kyoto while their lives are in transition. I found myself loving the two characters who are caught together in limbo, and internalizing Sachiko's phrasing ("when I little children size") enough to miss it now it has gone. Iyer's Kyoto is a sensory delight and that kept me reading in spite of the amateurish sociological insights he sprinkles throughout, marring what would otherwise be lovely bits of description about teahouses, schoolchildren, seasonal foods and so on. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis Blanchette | 1/25/2014

    " The book that made me want to go to kyoto "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bo | 1/13/2014

    " I read about 40 pages. There were quite many descriptions and nothing special going on to keep me interested enough to continue reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucia | 1/11/2014

    " Many interesting insights into Japan... loved the bits about "monoganashii," loosely translated as, "feeling nostalgic for the moment." Wish we had a word for that in English! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Courtney | 1/8/2014

    " If you've ever been to Kyoto, you'll love reading this book. I suggest reading it as soon as you get back from your trip--it will make your trip feel longer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason Kuttner | 12/27/2013

    " I love Pico Iyer, and this book is a great look at the contrasting cultures of geisha, monks, history, modern, Japanese, and foreigner taking place in the contemporary Kyoto. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rhonda Hankins | 12/23/2013

    " if i tell you that this book convinced me to never ever pick up another "travel" book again, would you get an idea what i thought of it? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Crystal | 12/21/2013

    " I hated this book, because I felt like the author was putting his personal fantasies on top of places I knew and loved. It literally made my skin crawl. The whole "western man rescuing a Japanese woman from a loveless marriage" theme was also distasteful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debra | 12/19/2013

    " I love this book--it's accessible, charming, deep, and elegant. The narrator is particularly well rendered; a delight to go along with him on this journey. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 DoctorM | 11/22/2013

    " An account of a year in Japan that's a wonderful outsider's introduction to Japanese culture, an admiring account of Kyoto, and a gentle and heartfelt love story. I've always admired Iyer's travel writing, and this is one of his most delightful works. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 cicie | 6/11/2013

    " next to wuthering heights this is my favorite book and where my love affair with pico iyer began. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aditya | 3/9/2013

    " beautiful love story. An insigh into what JAPAN is, what the lives of people in Japan are, women in japan are. And a sensitive travellogue along with a love story. great blend. became a fan of Iyer after this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex | 11/15/2012

    " Excellent travel writing that incorporates literary references from both western and eastern cultures. Has a very interesting treatment of the theme of lust vs religion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jase Chun | 8/16/2012

    " interesting memoir by iyer chronicling his time in japan as a foreigner. although he takes a somewhat passive observer approach, his relationship with sachiko carries the narrative and does make some significant points about japan's limited society and its relationship with the outside world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben Lainhart | 7/24/2012

    " Iyer gives us a nuanced and insightful book about Japan. Beautiful prose portrays some beautiful relationships. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cynthia Clough | 1/22/2012

    " Elegant and quirky insights into Japanese culture, East Meets West, Zen practice, philosophy, poetry, and cross-cultural romance. Both one of the most interesting travel narratives I've ever read and likewise the most delicately rendered love stories. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 10/4/2011

    " I did not finish, I think he said all he needed to in the first half. I have not desire to pick it up again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katy | 5/27/2011

    " very well-written and witty. I think even those who have not experienced living in Japan can appreciate this book. The subtlety with which it captures "Japanese-ness" is analytical while soft, demonstrating Iyers feelings for the country and it's people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie Moseley | 3/26/2011

    " I enjoyed very much and thought it a lovely book "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/9/2011

    " I did not finish, I think he said all he needed to in the first half. I have not desire to pick it up again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 12/7/2010

    " I enjoyed very much and thought it a lovely book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Henry | 8/15/2010

    " When i first lived in Japan i read this and it is a perfect blend of fiction and truth about Japan, absolutely wonderful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jase | 7/10/2010

    " interesting memoir by iyer chronicling his time in japan as a foreigner. although he takes a somewhat passive observer approach, his relationship with sachiko carries the narrative and does make some significant points about japan's limited society and its relationship with the outside world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debra | 7/16/2009

    " I love this book--it's accessible, charming, deep, and elegant. The narrator is particularly well rendered; a delight to go along with him on this journey. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 6/24/2009

    " A beautiful love story that also captures the fulfillment of a life lived with focus and spirituality.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 R. | 6/21/2009

    " Interesting take on an outsider living in japan. tho wordy since he's english. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia | 5/30/2009

    " I love Pico Iyer! This book is more autobiographical than most of his - I like the way he balances his usual brilliant travel writing with his own story here. He is one of those great writers who leaves just enough to the imagination to really pique your interest in those details he does divulge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katy | 5/21/2009

    " very well-written and witty. I think even those who have not experienced living in Japan can appreciate this book. The subtlety with which it captures "Japanese-ness" is analytical while soft, demonstrating Iyers feelings for the country and it's people. "

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About the Author
Author Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist long based in both California and Japan. He is the author of numerous books about crossing cultures, among them Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, and The Global Soul. An essayist for Time since 1986, he also publishes regularly in Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and many other publications across the globe.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. He won seven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and in 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for Best Mystery Narration for his reading of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.