Ruri Pilgrim tells the story of her family from the 1870s to the 1950s. She begins with the formality and security of the arrangements of life for a Japanese middle-class family, living in a walled compound with their servants, following exactly the tradition inherited from their parents, with marriages arranged for the children, which continued up until World War II. By then her mother was married to an engineer and living in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. That period is marked by her mother's often funny, painful experiences of learning about the Chinese and Russians with whom she now lived with her growing family, and the war seen from her point of view. At the end of the war, the Japanese - women, children, everyone - had to escape, walking hundreds of miles to the coast. The family returned to a Tokyo where the society, the culture, the economy was entirely overturned. The Americans were everywhere, the Japanese were unemployed, and the ways of society that they had all known had vanished. And yet somehow Ruri's indomitable mother survived.
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Ruri Kumoi Pilgrim was born and raised in Japan, went to university in the USA, and came to Cambridge University for her PhD. She married a colleague, and has worked with him on aid projects all over the world. She now lives in Bath.
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