Although the story commences in the household of Kin and her crippled daughter Toshi, it quickly turns to the bifurcated life of Tomo, the middle-aged wife of an older, important bureaucrat. Tomo, despite her “unbending quality” and “undeniable air of distinction” lives an agony of repressed jealousy and humiliation. Although she can barely read and is a voteless subject in her samurai husband’s kingdom, Tomo manages the family’s extensive finances and murderously complex emotional structures with dedication and skill. Her husband, Yukitomo, is a suave and easy seducer of the disenfranchised women about him who have nowhere else to go. The final scenes, Tomo’s walk home in the dusk and Yukitomo’s revelation (reminiscent of the rending final pages of Sigrid Undset’s “Master of Hestviken”) are affecting and masterly.
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