Author(s): Julith Jedamus
Gripping novel of sexual jealousy set in the perfectly realised world of imperial 10th century Japan.
The Book of Loss takes the reader on an ambitious journey deep into the psyche of a group of women and their social environment of 10th century Japan. It is a world of emotional intensity and paucity of freedom. The court of the Emperor where the mysterious narrator and her rival Izumi live is tightly bound with complex social rules. The hierarchy is extreme, and despite their own relative high ranks, in the presence of the Empress they are nothing. It is a society of hypocrisy in which men and women may be separated by a curtain in public in order to maintain their modesty, and yet extramarital affairs are commonplace. Despite the apparent sexual liberalism, to be a woman shamed is to be worthless, nameless, and to risk exile. At the start of the novel the greatest scandal imaginable has taken place. Kanesuke, the narrator's lover (also lover of Izumi) has seduced the Virgin of Ise - one of the Emperor's daughters - and he has been exiled. The narrator's sense of loss is unbearable, her love is all consuming, and now it will push her to extremes of rivalry.