Bottles of homemade plum wine link two worlds, two eras, and two lives through the eyes of Barbara Jefferson, a young American teaching at a Tokyo university. When her surrogate mother, Michi, dies, Barbara inherits an extraordinary gift: a tansu chest filled with bottles of homemade plum wine wrapped in sheets of rice paper covered in elegant calligraphy—one bottle for each of the last twenty years of Michi’s life.
Why did Michi leave her memoirs to Barbara, who cannot read Japanese? Seeking a translator, Barbara turns to an enigmatic pottery artist named Seiji, who will offer her a companionship as tender as it is forbidden. But as the two lovers unravel the mysteries of Michi’s life, a story that draws them through the aftermath of World War II and the hidden world of the hibakusha, Hiroshima survivors, Barbara begins to suspect that Seiji may be hiding the truth about Michi’s past—and a heartbreaking secret of his own.
“A mystery that unfolds as beautifully, delicately, and ceremoniously as a lotus blossom. One of the most memorable novels I have read in many years.”—Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill
“A heartrending story of love and loss...masterful.”—Seattle Times
“Angela Davis-Gardner is a wondrous and generous writer."—Amy Tan
“The story of a powerful and moody love affair between a visiting American schoolteacher and a Japanese potter, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. In stark and lovely prose, Davis-Gardner creates a believable excursion into the deep heart of a good young woman.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered
“Plum Wine is equal parts mystery and romance, an enchantment cast with wise and graceful passion.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“A beautiful and moving story, filled with grace, sorrow, sin and redemption.”—Charlotte Observer
“Beautiful, atmospheric.... Davis-Gardner's sensitive, elegant prose paints the furtiveness of forbidden love against the broad canvas of war's lasting effects.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer