I was worried that this book was going to be a slog. The topic is a bit obscure - the aristocratic world of 10th century Japan at the time of Lady Murasaki's novel The Tale of Gengi. So some possiblity it would be one of those not terribly well written academic tomes, long on footnotes, short on readable prose, primarily concerned with scoring points in academic infighting over minutiae. You know the stuff, "Professor Walrus puts forth the absurd contention that Lord Hisagau was 5'3", ignoring the careful scholarship of Professor Carpenter who has demonstrated conclusively that he was of course 5'4"..." Feh.
Plus it was first published in 1964, which gave me some concerns about how the author was going to handle certain aspects of Heian culture particularly issues of sex - was the author going to feel the need to over explain or resort to cringe making euphemisms? But I'm really interested in Heian Japan so I figured I'd give it a shot.
I'm glad I did. There was a little bit of what I was worried about but not enough to ruin what turned out to be a fascinating and informative book. I learned a lot, and I had great fun imagining the world he was describing. For the most part he stuck with the facts and wrote very readably - only in a few places, mostly when dealing with polygamy and shamanism, did he run off the rails into trying to justify and over explain his material.
If you are interested in the world of Lady Murasaki I recommend this.