One Morning Like a Bird – Andrew Miller

The BookDepository

Ingenious Pain is one of my favourite books, so when I spotted that Andrew Miller had written a book set in Japan, a country I love reading about, I was very excited.

The book is set in Tokyo during WWII and focuses on Yuri, a young man who is unable to fight due to ill-health. He becomes friends with a French trader and his family, but as the war progresses this friendship causes him to have to make some difficult decisions.

As with all books written by Andrew Miller the writing is very good – it is simple, but effective. The book is well researched and explains the lives of the Japanese during the war well. My only criticism would be that it lacks the Japanese atmosphere that I love to read about – I can’t picture the sights, sounds and smells of 1940s Japan – this is a minor problem though. The characters are all well developed and believable, and the plot, although not having a fast pace, is engaging.

The lives of Japanese civilians during WWII isn’t something I’ve read about before, so seeing things through their eyes gives a whole new layer to the European war stories we are so used to reading.

I admire Andrew Miller for branching out into a new area and being able to create such a diverse range of books. I will continue to keep an eye out for his new releases and this book will ensure he keeps his place on my list of favourite authors.



Have you read any books written by Andrew Miller?

Have you read books set in Japan during WWII?

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  1. I’ve been intrigued by this book for a while – read so much based in America and Europe during the 1940s, but nothing based in Asia (Japan specifically). I’ll definitely try and give this one a shot soon.

    Thanks for the review

    1. Jackie says:

      You should have let me know! LOL!!

      I only spotted he had published a new book a few weeks ago – I need my hands slapping – must pay more attention in future!

  2. Claire says:

    I plan to read Ingenious Pain first of all but I will definitely be keeping this one in mind. Thanks for the review, Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ingenious Pain is amazing – I agree that you should read that one first. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Sandy says:

    I’ve not read anything from this author, but I’ve had Ingenious Pain on my radar. I DO love to read a book that transports me to another place. I love it when you actually can imagine the sounds and smells of a location, and it is a talent for an author to do this. It can add so much to the experience! For all the WWII novels I’ve read, I don’t think I’ve read any that have taken place in Japan. Obviously a weakness in my reading selections!

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m pleased to hear that Ingenious Pain is on your radar. I hope you find a copy soon – it really is a great book.

  4. Dan Holloway says:

    The best book I’ve read with a strong element of WWII Japan is Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I’m guessing the one that springs to everyone’s mind is Empire of the Sun, but that doesn’t really give a Japanese perspective.

    Bibliofreakblog is one of many, I believe, currently participating in an endeavour to read, and encourage others to read, more Japanese literature. That may be a very valuable source of info on such books.

    1. Jackie says:

      I didn’t realise WInd up Bird Chronicle was set during WWII. I plan to read it very soon.

      I love Japanese literature, but wouldn’t really count this as it is written in a very Western way. It is a very good book though.

      1. Dan Holloway says:

        There are long sections of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle set around the time of WWII, told in flashback by Lieutenant Mamiya, including some fascinating chapters set in a zoo at the end of the war.

  5. The only book I’ve read that takes place during WWII Japan is Memoirs of a Geisha. Though I’ve read some books that have characters who fought in the war (on both sides) and had issues because of it.

    You’re participating in Bellezza’s Japanese Lit Challenge, right?

    1. Dan Holloway says:

      Thanks, J.T. for clearing up where the Japanese Lit Challenge originated

    2. Jackie says:

      I forgot about Memoirs of a Geisha! I’ve read that!

      Yes I’m participating in Bellezza’s Japanese Lit Challenge. I have lots of books lined up, but don’t think any of them take place during WWII.

  6. I also love love books set in Japan in many different eras (any era really) and I love that cover! I’ve sadly never heard of this author, but the title Ingenious Pain is very tempting!

    1. Jackie says:

      Ingenious Pain is amazing – it is about a man who cannot feel any pain, so the it is about whether it is better to go through life without any pain, or if a little bit is good for us.

  7. Sarah says:

    I haven’t read Andrew Miller before, this sounds interesting so I will look out for it.

    For a novel recounting Japanese experiences during WWII, I’d recommend Twenty Four Eyes by Sakae Tsuboi. It opens in 1928, with a young female teacher and her first grade class of twelve children, and follows them up to 1946. It was also made into a very good movie.

    For non-fiction it’s hard to better Hiroshima by John Hersey- it tells the stories of six citizens of the city before, during and after the bombing in succinct and shocking clarity.

    Just last week, the LA times ran four accounts of Hiroshima survivors to mark the bombing’s anniversary which I think everyone should read. The link is,0,1921377.story

    1. Jackie says:

      Thank you for the recommendations – I’ll have to look into those. Hiroshima sounds very sad – I’ll have to be in the right frame of mind to read that one.

  8. I love WWII books and haven’t heard of this one before. Thanks for pointing it out!

    1. Jackie says:

      Melissa, Yes, this is different to most of the WWII books you’ll be used to. I hope you enjoy it!

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