Lifestyle/Entertainment Editor, Asia, Tokyo
Elaine's Feed
Nov 15, 2012

Book Talk: The tale of Napoleon’s second wife

TOKYO (Reuters) – Marie-Louise is 18 years old in 1809, the cherished daughter of the Austrian king, when she is forced to make a horrible choice – leave her nation to become Napoleon Bonaparte’s second wife, or see France attack her country.

So begins “The Second Empress” by Michelle Moran, her fifth novel and the latest in a collection of tales about strong women throughout history, from ancient Egypt’s Nefertiti to Cleopatra and Madame Tussaud.

Nov 8, 2012

Why vampires? Book looks at science behind monsters

TOKYO (Reuters) – The suave and sensitive Edward Cullen of “Twilight” may be the norm for vampires these days, but fictional monsters such as Dracula originally sprang from the fear of inexplicable diseases and the mysteries of death in the natural world.

So argues science journalist Matt Kaplan in “Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters,” an examination of monsters around the world and throughout history – the science behind their origins, and why they matter to us even now.

Nov 1, 2012

Book Talk: “Fun” bestsellers a big switch for Justin Cronin

TOKYO, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Justin Cronin was writing literary
fiction when he and his daughter, then eight, dreamed up a
vampire trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic world just for fun -
until he belatedly realized what they’d put together, and sat
down to write.

Cronin said he’s still a little astonished by the success of
“The Passage,” which began the series, and now “The Twelve,”
which just came out last month, both of which have been
bestsellers.

Oct 18, 2012

Book Talk: Ghosts, grief and great love in China

TOKYO (Reuters) – After Samuel Pickens loses the love of his life, he travels the world to forget her – only to find her mirror image in the court of Imperial China, where he falls in love with one of the Emperor’s wives.

The lyrical “My Last Empress” is a novel by Da Chen, who grew up in a small Chinese village and graduated from Columbia Law School before turning to writing with the acclaimed memoir “Colors of the Mountain.”

Sep 20, 2012

Book Talk: Life on a desolate island from T.C. Boyle

TOKYO, Sept 20 (Reuters) – In the latest novel by author
T.C. Boyle, two families generations apart come to a starkly
beautiful but isolated island off the coast of southern
California, hoping to wrest new lives from the desolation.

Though husbands and children also play roles in “San
Miguel,” the real focus is on three women: the ailing Marantha
Waters, who hopes to restore her health, her aspiring actress
daughter Edith, and finally Elise Lester, a librarian from New
York City, who comes with her husband and stays for a decade.

Sep 19, 2012

Novel looks at Israel’s untold stories, fringe characters

TOKYO, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Yael, Avishag and Lea grow up
together in a remote Israeli town, graduating to military
service in the Israeli army, where they come of age amidst a mix
of the routine and tension that comes from living with the
constant possibility of danger.

“The People of Forever are Not Afraid,” Shani Boianjiu’s
debut novel, is based partly on her own experiences in the
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), but the young author feels that it
was leaving her native land to study abroad that ultimately
freed her to write.

Sep 6, 2012

Secret life of an “ordinary” housewife in World War II Berlin

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sigrid appears to be an ordinary Berlin housewife at the height of World War Two, stoically enduring air raids, food shortages and the absence of her husband at the Russian front as she slogs to and from her job.

But the heroine of “City of Women” by David Gillham, has secrets. Consumed by thoughts of her Jewish lover, a chance meeting with a girl in a movie theatre leads to her gradually being caught up in a network of people helping Jews flee to safety as she navigates between what is safe and what is right.

Sep 6, 2012

Secret life of an “ordinary” housewife in WW2 Berlin

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sigrid appears to be an ordinary Berlin housewife at the height of World War Two, stoically enduring air raids, food shortages and the absence of her husband at the Russian front as she slogs to and from her job.

But the heroine of “City of Women” by David Gillham, has secrets. Consumed by thoughts of her Jewish lover, a chance meeting with a girl in a movie theatre leads to her gradually being caught up in a network of people helping Jews flee to safety as she navigates between what is safe and what is right.

Aug 2, 2012

Book reveals softer side of Aaron Burr

TOKYO (Reuters) – Aaron Burr, a lawyer and politician in the early years of the United States, has long had a reputation as a villain, mainly due to his famous killing of political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804.

But in his book, “The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr,” author Henry Brands paints a vastly different picture of a modern, progressive man who believed that women were the intellectual equals of men, and who was devoted to his only daughter, Theodosia.

Jul 26, 2012

Book Talk: Egypt, Montana and Evel Knievel focus of new book

TOKYO, July 26 (Reuters) – Khosi Saqr lives in Butte,
Montana, birthplace of motorcycle rider Evel Knievel, but he has
never felt quite at home. Then a mysterious stranger appears in
town, launching him on a path that leads to Egypt and the father
who abandoned him.

Khosi, the half-Egyptian hero of “Evel Knievel Days,” was
inspired partly by author Pauls Toutonghi’s own background as
the son of a Latvian mother and Egyptian father, and his desire
to reconnect with his Egyptian roots, which led him to Egypt in
March 2011 after the protests that swept President Hosni Mubarak
from power.