The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar

A young girl transforms tragedy into triumph.


It’s late-12th-century Japan, and the relations between two dominating clans are increasingly heated. Young Kozaisho is living happily with her family when the nobleman who owns their land demands to buy her. With her family in poverty, her father has no choice but to accept. Kozaisho leaves, struggling to keep her tears in check for the sake of her family, knowing she’ll likely never see them again. That begins Kozaisho’s coming of age journey from child dancer to woman for hire to samurai. The path is punishing. Her saving grace: a talent for storytelling. Her tales cast a spell over clients and help her gain friends, power and notoriety in the village of outcasts she finds herself in. A suspenseful story of love, sacrifice and honour and an absorbing study of a strong-willed woman trying to make her way in a world ruled by men.

The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai, Barbara Lazar, $16. Available at and