The other day I got an email from Sage asking if I wanted to be part of a blog tour of the book, The First Noble Truth and I agreed, because it sounded interesting. So here I am hosting the blog tour today.
Machiko is an English teacher in a school in a small remote, yet beautiful village in Japan, where the children wear bells on their school bags, to warn away bears. She has a condition which makes her pull out her hair, pick at her skin. She finds that she can do nothing to stop herself from doing it. She struggled hard to mask the damage what her fingers had done to her appearance, she struggled to look normal. No doctor she has been to, has been able to help her with her condition.
When a mysterious young woman appears in the village, everybody is curious. It’s a small village with no secrets. Machiko ends up checking after her and ends up becoming the only person to interact with this woman, Krista, an American who seems to have secrets of her own, hidden away.
The book alternates with Machiko’s narrative and Krista’s narrative and keeps the pages turning. In Machiko’s and Krista’s stories, is also woven the cultures and faiths that they come from, the way things are different and yet startlingly similar. It questions beliefs around suffering, the links between suffering and faiths, religious beliefs and even the similarities between religions. It makes for an interesting and thought-provoking reading.
It is a tale of misfits, people who don’t find themselves happy where they are, for various reasons, none of it, in their control, really.
I really liked the style of writing. Loved the way the book started. The descriptions were wonderful, they took me to the places where the protagonists were at. The way the author writes about Machiko’s condition is especially heartening, it is a very understanding and accepting narrative. One that brings out the pain she’s going through so very well. All the characters beautifully etched out. I particularly liked the beginning which started with Krista’s story. It was a painful story, but beautifully narrated.
A very interesting book, but not the easiest of reads, especially if you aren’t in the right frame of mind to read it. A heavy read, but a recommended one, if you like books of this sort. I’ve given it a 3.5/5 but that’s mainly go do with the fact that it was a little heavy going for me in places.
About the Author
Lynn Murphy was born in New Hampshire, but has since lived in Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, England, Nepal, India, and Mongolia. She also spent a year backpacking across the African continent for kicks.
She is a doctoral candidate in Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a graduate of St Andrews University (M.A.) and Oxford University (MPhil).
Whilst a resident at a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in the Himalayas, she wrote her first book, ‘The First Noble Truth.’
She currently lives between Mongolia and the UK, where she is conducting fieldwork on post-Soviet economies of the funeral industry and their impact on contemporary Mongolian cultural and religious identity.
She writes, she knits, she eats mutton.
This book is available from Amazon.