Books: Fine & Bitter Tea

LADY OF BEAUTY (192 pp.) — Kikou Yamata—John Day ($3).

The Japanese say that in the finest tea one can taste the water with which it was made. Lady of Beauty is just such a subtle cup of literary tea. In it, Kikou Yamata, daughter of a Japanese diplomat and a French mother, tells the story of Nobuko Hayashi, aloof, highborn and exquisite, and how the war racked and finally killed her without using a bullet or a bomb. At once surface and symbol, Lady of Beauty is a quiet requiem for a culture as well as a person, by a mourner...

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