As a young girl, Kathlene Mallory dreamed of being a geisha -- a seeming impossibility until her father was forced to flee Japan and leave her behind. Safe behind closed doors at the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree, Kathlene grows to womanhood and learns the geisha's art.

When she meets American Reed Cantrell, she is prepared, eager even, to take the final step in her journey by selling her virginity to Baron Tonda. By the time Kathlene realizes that her path may lie in a different direction, it may be too late.

Bacarr's debut novel is a rich reading experience, especially for those interested in Japanese history and culture. Its language is lovely, even poetic, and the atmosphere has a rare and pervasive sensuality. However, the characters lack depth, and the overall effect is like overindulging in sweet food -- ultimately unsatisfying. (Aug., 384 pp., $13.95)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer