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The Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel by…
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The Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Katherine Govier

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7512160,370 (3.19)3
Member:richardderus
Title:The Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel
Authors:Katherine Govier
Info:Harper Perennial (2011), Edition: Original, Paperback, 512 pages
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The Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel by Katherine Govier

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Another book in the genre of women-associated-with-famous-men-of-history. I guess I do like this genre - I keep reading books in it!
I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book. I see from the other reviews that I'm not the only one - I didn't find the portrayal of our main character, Oei, as a child fully convincing, and the portrayal of the local prostitutes and their dialect was clunky and a bit off-putting.
However, by the time the novel hits its stride, and shows Oei as an adult, I was fully brought in to the book. Govier's research is excellent, and I found she made a very convincing case for her hypothesis: that the famous artist Hokusai's daughter was in fact responsible for many of the works credited to the master, and that Oei was in fact greatly respected and recognized as an artist in her own right, in her time. This theory is bolstered by a non-fiction essay at the end of the book which is well worth reading.
It's also nice that the author has a website featuring some of the art mentioned in the book: http://www.theprintmakersdaughter.com. This is the same book as 'The Ghost Brush.' (UK title). ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This turned out to be a highly enjoyable book - after a rocky start.
First, the start: to give the courtesan's their own patois, the author chooses to use some form of Californian Valley Girl slang. It is, like, a disaster. There is also the clunky use of the local storyteller (part town crier, part tabloid scandal monger) to fill in the background on one of the important characters, Shino.
But, the book flows from there. The author tells the story sparingly, with occasional vignettes in a roughly chronological sequence. The characterisation of the key players is well done and they rise from the page.
Interestingly for a book about two famous artists, there is only very limited analysis of the actual art works. What detail that is given is mostly descriptive, and not detailed at that. Instead, the book is about relationships, set in the background of the place and time - Japan in the era leading up to the time of the forced "opening" in 1867. Now I was quite happy with this balance, but I wonder of others might prefer more artistic criticism.
The subsidiary issue discussed in the book is the role of gender in Japan in the 19th century. The author manages to deal explicitly with the injustices without turning the book into a undergraduate gender studies assignment.
Great book.
Read Jan 2016 ( )
  mbmackay | Jan 14, 2016 |
The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier is set in 19th century Edo. Oei narrates her story of being a young woman working with her father, a print maker.

Edo is the former name of Tokyo. It was the seat of power from 1603 to 1868 and grew to be a thriving metropolis. It was a vibrant, bustling, crowded place but most of that excitement is missing from this novel.

Instead, Oei's narrative is halting and full of stuff to prove to us western readers that yes, she is in fact, a Japanese lady from late 19th century Edo. So she waxes on and on over details that are of exotic interest to westerns: geisa, kimono, tabi, okobo, etc. I just can't imagine Oei actually being that fascinated by "exotic" Japan as she's portrayed.

In the 50 or so pages I suffered through, there is no chance for Oei to just live in Edo and have her life's up and downs. No, she's there as a tour guide for some weird western preconceived notion of what Edo was like. The extremely silly and anachronistic anime, Oh Edo Rocket! is a better, more realistic presentation of life in Edo even with the entire moon alien plot! ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 7, 2015 |
Drawn in by the pretty cover and the lure of Japan, I had little idea what to expect of this novel. Although the title suggests that the tale would be all about the relationship of a father and daughter, I did not really suspect that would be almost the entirety of what it was about. There is little romance. Mostly, this is a story of art and the family ties between these two.

Actually, given the romance there was, I am glad there was not more. The men Oei took up with were rather creepy, especially the first, a man of her father's years (and he was not young when she was born) seduced her when she was only fifteen. Not strange for that time period, but that does not make it any more okay to me now.

The sections that really came alive were those about the making of the art. The loving discussion of the colors and the lines were touching, even for one, like me, who does not have an artistic bone in her body when it comes to painting, drawing, etc. Oei is a very strong woman, although not when confronted with her father, and she has more skill than most artists, even perhaps her lauded father.

In library school, we discussed at one point the legitimacy of someone from outside a culture trying to write a book about that culture. I don't really know how I feel about that, but I think Govier has likely done a fantastic job. Her mass of research is evident from her Afterword, which goes into detail on why she wrote the novel and the historical basis for her suppositions.

I never really got swept away by this. Despite Oei's strength, I had trouble relating to her and her decisions. There are certainly good things here, but this was not a perfect choice for me. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
This is less a review, even a short one, than an exercise to vanquish the guilt I have for not being able to finish this novel. I rarely, rarely give in and DNF a historical novel: my curiousity to see how things work out and my high threshold for frippery description usually overpowers my good sense. By all means, I wanted to love and should have loved this journey into 1800s Edo Japan, but this was most definitely not the novel I thought I was getting. Some readers will be enchanted by Govier's visually striking version of the isolationist country, but I wasn't diverted or engrossed by Oei and the Old Man's journey through the years of her life. I kept waiting for something, anything, to happen in those hard-fought 300 pages of reading but.... nothing of note did and I had to throw in the towel.

My first major complaint about The Printmaker's Daughter and one that persisted for most of the pages I managed to conclude: the accent/speech patterns used for the courteans of the Corner Tamaya. A confusing overuse of the letter 'z' for pluralization or to show ownership was the first problem I caught on to ("She'z so, like, stiff. She'z like a lady!") but it was sadly also far from the last. Why do these 1800's whores speak like 1990's California valleygirls? Phrases and words like "pulleeez" "chi-yuld" and "it'z so noi-zy!" is not how women of the time expressed themselves so it's a jarring speech pattern for the author to have them use - and somewhat condescending as well. Why does the word "like" pop up every three words in the conversation of the courtesans? Given that young Oei spends quite a chunk of the beginning of the novel among the bordellos with her father, it's a reoccuring and distracting issue.

Oei herself isn't too bad of a protagonist, though she's not fully fleshed out by the time I closed the cover for the final time. I actually really enjoyed reading about the complicated but loving relationship between Oei and her famous father; she clearly values his opinion and work more than her own life. Even the title of the novel reinforces how clearly Oei defines herself by the terms of her father. Govier seems to have largely based her Hokusai on the real man, easily enfolding actual facts about the main into the narrative easily and often. I liked the characters, but I didn't closely identif with any, root for any or hate any. They were just mostly there...doing nothing for 300 pages. The ultra-weird narrative shifts, from two hundred fifty pages of first-person perspective to a third-person view and back again to first is just clunky and weird. A more streamlined transition between views would help the whiplash of flipping back and forth so much.

This was just not for me, though I can easily see others overlooking what I could not and enjoying this far more/ actually completing the entire 500-page length. I just don't want to muscle through a novel only to write a tepid review after - by no means is this even close to the worst I have read this year. I just lacked the desire to pursue another 200 pages of anachronistic accents and weird POV shifts with nothing happening in between to break up the monotony. ( )
  msjessie | Feb 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
"Although not as gifted as Anchee Min in characterizing her female protagonist, Govier nonetheless gives readers an engrossing narrative worth their time."
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Shirley N. Quan (Nov 1, 2011)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062000365, Paperback)

Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as they work on Hokusai’s countless paintings and prints. Wielding her brush, rejecting domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts, Oei defies all expectations of womanhood—all but one. A dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her place in history.

Vivid, daring, and unforgettable, The Printmaker’s Daughter shines fresh light on art, loyalty, and the tender and indelible bond between a father and daughter.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:22 -0400)

Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as they work on Hokusai's countless paintings and prints. Wielding her brush, rejecting domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts, Oei defies all expectations of womanhood--all but one. A dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her place in history.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Katherine Govier is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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