Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW Giveaway #1: Beyond the Blossoming Fields

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember that I recently read and loved Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe, a historical fiction novel based on the true story of the woman who became Japan's first official female doctor. (For any new visitors who haven't already seen it, here's my review.) Well, Alma Books has kindly agreed to send a copy of Beyond the Blossoming Fields to one of my readers.

As a young girl from a wealthy family, Ginko Ogino seems set for a conventional life in the male-dominated society of nineteenth-century Japan. But when she contracts gonorrhoea from her husband, she suffers the ignominy of divorce. Forced to bear the humiliation of being treated by male doctors, she resolves to become a doctor herself in order to treat fellow female sufferers and spare them some of the shame she had to endure.

Her struggle is not an easy one: her family disown her, and she has to convince the authorities to take seriously the idea of a female doctor, and allow her to study alongside male medical students and sit the licensing exam.

Based on the real-life story of Ginko Ogino – Japan’s first female doctor – Beyond the Blossoming Fields does full justice to the complexity of her character and her world in a fascinating and inspirational work of fiction.
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post (with your email address if it's not readily visible on your blog).

Optional, for one extra point each,
1) tell us about another strong female character (real or fictional) that you admire.
2) tweet or blog about this giveaway and then make sure to let me that you've done so. (Please include @tanabata2000 in your tweet).

The giveaway is open worldwide and will be open for the duration of BBAW.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, September 19th. Good luck!

Thank you to everyone who entered.  This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been announced.


  1. Ooh, I *love* Asian literature! And strong female leads, too!

    Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series has a great strong female lead in Maisie Dobbs. She's endured lots of pain, but she is still strong.

    WordLily AT gmail DOT com

  2. all I can think of is Amelia Earhart at the moment though I am intrigue still by the mystery of her disappear

    anyway, thanks for the contest

  3. This one's easy for me! Henrietta Muir Edwards, one of Canada's Famous Five women who won the right for women to vote. She also was involved in publishing a women's magazine and the Victorian Order of Nurses, no less. I have a write-up of her here:

    Please enter me in your contest. christinegordonmanley[at]yahoo[dot]ca

  4. I can't think of a strong fictional character off the top of my head, so I'll have to go w/ a real person - my mom. She is pretty much superwoman in my eyes. I probably don't tell her that often enough. She knows how to do everything - from putting a new hard drive in her computer to getting a tough stain out of clothes to knowing what to put on a bee sting (Meat tenderizers - who would've known!). She's awesome.

  5. I'm so excited-your review made this one sound wonderful! :D My e-mail is astripedarmchairATgmailDOTcom.

    I've tweeted about it, and one of my fave strong female characters is Mary Russell from Laurie King's mystery series. I love her because she's not afraid to show off her intelligence, because she takes martial arts, and because her marriage is one of equals. :D

  6. This book looks so good. I'd love to read it.

    Favorite strong female characters-- Raine Benares, Julia Grey and Emily Ashton (all fictional).

    schriftstellarin at hotmail dot com

  7. Hi ! I would like to enter the contest !

    A strong female charater can be found in The Alchemy of Stone - Mattie !

    acrisalves AT gmail DOT com

  8. I would love to win this book!- thanks so much for this give away

  9. I'll go with a slightly unusual choice, the eponymous hero of 'The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum': independent, successful and capable of murdering a journalist who insults her honour ;)

  10. I would love to be entered to win!

    I love Claire in The Outlander series. She's a nurse first and then later a healer/doctor. I love the way she deals with being in a different time where women are not treated as equally.

    akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

  11. Well, I'm rewatching the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (for probably the fifth time) and she literally just killed Angel like a minute ago. So, there's a fictional character I admire.

    As for real, I have always really liked Boudicca, ever since I did a project on her in high school.

    Thanks for hosting this give away!


  12. I've lived in Japan for a bit and am fascinated by Japanese culture, so I'd definitely be interested in reading this book!

    My e-mail address is dbrannon[at]gmail[dot]com. Thank you for hosting this giveaway!


    Also, for an extra point: I'm going to have to go with Queen Elizabeth as a strong female character that I admire. Really, do I need to elaborate?

  13. There are so many strong females. Bhima, the housekeeper in The Space Between Us, must try to raise her pregnant granddaughter while living in the slums of India and keeping their place in the rich household she works for. In Saffron Dreams, Arissa Illahi, a pregnant Muslim artist and writer, looses her husband on 9/11 and is left alone in America with no family. She survives and prospers.

    rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

    Here is a tweet

    rebecca dot cox at charter dot net

  15. I'd really like to win this one.

    ifayabale @

    A strong fictional female character I admire is Janie Crawford from Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God. Janie really challenged the role of women especially when it comes to who and how they love.

    And I tweeted- I'm ifayabale

  16. I love Asian literature and strong female characters. I thought all the female characters in Out by Natsuo Kirino were great examples of strong women!

    I'd love to win this book and have just added you to my google reader!
    I'm not sure why I haven't before!

    jackie (at) farmlanebooks (dot) co (dot) uk

  17. Aargh. I posted a (lengthy) comment and lost it.

    I'm very interested in this book as a "failed" doctor. (I decided not to practice medicine. I love strong female leads and reading about women who have succeeded against long odds.

    I waited until today to post because I had a hard time coming up with a strong female lead from my reading lately (mostly male leads). Katsa from Graceling and Fire from Fire are great but they have super-powers so don't really count.

    I've decided to go with Jehane, the pseudo-Jewish physician in The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay. Being a female physician in medieval pseudo-Spain was not an accepted path, but Jehane took over her father's practice after his death. She eventually won the respect and trust of his patients and new ones. I've read all of Kay's work. Jehane is the character that most resonates with me. (She also has similar tastes in men.)

    Tweeting now.

  18. I'd love to win! Thanks so much.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  19. New reader here.
    I would love to win this book.
    One of my favorite books of all time is Memoirs of a Geisha - only historical non fiction but the main character certainly was strong.

  20. I would love to read this!

    Strong fictional character -- Ms. Stackhouse from the Charlaine Harris series :-)

  21. Oh I'd love to win this book :)

    I recently finished Yasunari Kawabata's The Old Capital and thoroughly admired the main character Chieko. Though I've come to know her only through a fictional tale, I felt like falling in love with her as I read her story. She embodies the gentle beauty of the Japanese woman. And like the cherry blossoms that must adore her as much as she does them, her endearing character not only presents a lovely sight but also exudes something of a light fragrance in the air that creates an atmosphere of tender romance... at least in my mind.

  22. This looks like a really interesting book.

    The most recent fictional strong female character I've read about (and one I admire in some ways) is Amelia in Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  23. I was just referred to you by ccqdesigns! What a fabulous giveaway; this book sounds incredible!

    melacan at hotmial dot com

  24. another strong female character I admire would be Aminata from The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.

    melacan at hotmail dot com

  25. Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  26. Oh, I would love to win this. I have read so many good Asian books lately and am sure this is too.

    Strong female..Scarlett O'Hara

    What a great giveaway...thanks!

    kdhaney (AT) gmail ((DOT)) com

  27. Ooh, cool. Of course everyone's going to compare this to Memoirs of a Geisha, but that can only be a good thing! Are the books similar? I did really enjoy MOAG :)

    And hmmm, strong female character. I really like Sorcha in Juliet Marillier's DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, which is a retelling of The Six Swan Brothers - the heroine has to make six shirts out of thistles without telling her story to anyone or speaking the whole time she makes the shirts, to turn her brothers human again, occasionally at the risk of her own life. Actually, Juliet Marillier is really good at writing very strong female characters, now that I think about it - not all but many of her books have very likeable, very strong heroines.

    Email: kiwibooklover at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the contest!

  28. I would truly love to read this book. I am always looking for books that champion strong female leads in them. One of the strongest female leads is Sojourner Truth in Ain't I A Woman by belle hooks. She had great inner strength and fortitude to battle racism during the early years of our country.

    bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

  29. I tweeted about this giveaway:

    bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

  30. this looks fabulous thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

  31. sounds a great prize!

    have been puzzling over who i think i could say is a good strong female character and i keep coming back to miss marple (in a very english, subtle and dog-with-a-bone type of way!) - she never let the bad guys get away with anything!!!

    maxinegrant at btinternet dot com

  32. This looks like a good book. And I've been wanting to branch out to different cultures in my reading. My email is

  33. I would love to read this book. thank you for the chance to win it!

    tiffanys819 at gmail dot com

  34. Thanks for this great giveaway. It sounds compelling and fascinating. It would be great to rad this novel. A strong female whose life and death is to be thought of is Anne Frank. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  35. I would so love to read this!

  36. I can't believe I almost missed this giveaway! Please enter me! A strong female character that I admire is... not many actually. For now I'd say Marjane from Persepolis. She's cool.

  37. Please enter me. Thank you!


  38. Wow--just wanted to say what a beautiful blog you have!

    Also what a great giveaway--I would love to win this one. I am enjoying Asian literature more and more as I get older.

    A recent fictional strong female character I have found is Ivy Rowe from Lee Smith's book, Fair and Tender Ladies. This book is my all time favorite of the year so far.


  39. This is a brand new book to me, but it sounds great and I'd love to read/win it.

    I just finished Olive Kitteridge for my family long-distance book club. Olive isn't always likable, but she is certainly a strong, determined woman.


  40. Please enter me to win this! It sounds fantastic!

    My sister is a strong female character in my life. She is one of the best mothers and friends I have ever known. She is very talented and incredibly intelligent

    I tweeted!

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  41. Count me in for the book! i just love japanese literature.

    battyaboutbats at

  42. I can't believe I almost missed this!

    Strong female character I admire - Maisie Dobbs. I'd love to hang out with her solving mysteries :)

  43. Hi Yes please count me in. My daughter is half Asian is grade 11. I'd love to have this book so we could both read it. Cheers. polo-puppy-fluffy AT hotmail *dot* com

  44. Hi My strong female influence has been my grandmother. Long dead now she had to over come immigration, language, and finding a husband in a new country. All difficult when you're under twenty. Cheers. polo-puppy-fluffy AT hotmail *dot* com

  45. Enter me please!

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

  46. One of my favorite strong female characters is Hermione Granger because she's smart and awesome!

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

  47. I tweeted about the contest:

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

  48. I'd love to read this book! It sounds great!!


  49. Thank you everyone for entering, and for sharing some of the strong women you admire! I haven't heard of some of the fictional ones but I'll have to look them up! My apologies for not replying to every comment, but please know that you have all been added to the draw, with the extra entries included.

    wordlily - Maisie Dobbs is a great character, and that reminds me that I need to read the next book in the series sometime soon.

    cgmanley - I've heard of Nellie McClung, but not Henrietta Edwards. Thanks for the link.

    Lisa - A wonderful choice. :)

    Alyce - I've still never read any of the Outlander series. They sound interesting to me but I think the size of them scares me a little. :P

    J.T. Oldfield - Can you believe I have never watched Buffy?

    Deborah - Oh, where in Japan did you live?

    Rebecca (ccqdesigns) - I have The Space Between Us on my TBR stacks, and now I'm even more excited to read it!

    Jackie (farmlanebooks) - I'm glad you added me now. :)
    I agree with you about the women in Out.

    Cara Powers - The Lions of Al-Rassan is another book that's been languishing on my shelves for far too long. I must make an effort to finally read it.

    Shellie - Welcome!

    Mark David - Wow! What a beautiful, poetic description! I can't wait to read your review.

    Pam - I've heard good things about The Book of Negroes, it's on my wish list.

    Ruth - Are they similar? Hmmm, I have to admit that this one didn't remind me of Memoirs of a Geisha at all while I was reading. Even though they were both strong women, I guess because their lives and circumstances were so different. There isn't the exotic appeal of the mysterious world of the geisha in this book, but I found it equally fascinating. Not sure that answers your question...

    mee - Marjane is great, isn't she? We just watched the movie version of Persepolis and really enjoyed it.