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The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel (edition 2009)

by Maureen Lindley

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2515345,664 (2.89)37
Member:DeltaQueen50
Title:The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Authors:Maureen Lindley
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2009), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Historical Fiction, Japan, WWII, 12 in 12 Challenge, Category: Heard It Thru the Grapevine, TIOLI #1: Culinary Fruit

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The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

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I am disappointed in this book. This is an interesting period of history and potentially an interesting main character. The selfishness and sexual escapades of Eastern Jewel are overdone. There were numerous details that were not adequately addressed for historical fiction. For instance, Eastern Jewel and her maid, Sorry, did not have problems speaking and understanding Japanese when they arrived. And Eastern Jewel never seemed to have problems speaking different dialects as she moved about China. I expected that she would think about if she ever did achieve her goal to make her own life. She always survived by pleasing and being patronized by men. She never really escaped her original fate. I rarely give two stars for a rating. Books that are that bad, I never complete. I just kept wanting for the book to get better, and then I wanted to see how it finally ended. ( )
  Alice_Wonder | Jul 3, 2017 |
Review: The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley.

I felt the book was well written, organized, and some well developed shady characters. The main character Eastern Jewel ( also known as Yoshik) is a intriguing and interesting character for a Manchu Princess, spy, concubine, Lady of liaison, lover, and a brilliant manipulator. Eastern Jewel is presented as a strong bold woman which is surprising in that era but I felt it made the path for her character that captivated my interest to read to the end and understand that Lindley’s placed herself at the forefront in a brazen way. The book was historical fiction but based on a true story.

Lindley’s wrote descriptive details to emphasize Eastern Jewel was far less than perfect and even allows the reader to view her as a predator and a willing participant even though the sexual exploitation of her childhood. Eastern Jewel never presents herself as a victim but Lindley weaved a few insecurities and emotions that as the reader I picked up on. There was a few times I felt Eastern Jewel let her guard down and showed good and bad emotions come forth in the story. Eastern Jewel’s character made a few bad choices in a selfish way because her primary loyalty was to herself only.

Lindley’s starts the story in Peking, 1914 when Eastern Jewel was eight years old sitting behind an ornamented screen watching her father, Prince Su making love to a young servant girl. Her early sexual curiosity angered her father and he sent her away to live with a distant relative in Tokyo. Her fate there was made for her and she became used at an early age with sexual encounters with many men. It didn’t seem to hold back Eastern Jewel because she was fascinated with many sexual encounters and learned early on if she wanted her needs met she was going to do her best to satisfy the men that were sent to her and she felt she was the one in control.

Than the day came for her preset bleak marriage to a man in cold isolated Mongolia but she already planned to escape from there and finds a life in the City of Shanghai to work spying for the Japanese rejecting her Chinese heritage many years ago when her father sent here away. She became a rebellious women, revengeful and out to proclaim being a Princess or high profile Lady. She felt proud of her life and felt she did nothing wrong.

Based on the real life story of Princess Yoshiko Kawashima, an intriguing but ambiguous women who confronted and manipulated her way through an exceptional public life, vividly ambitious in her self discovery across three countries and a world war….I thought it was an exceptional story and I liked Eastern Jewel as she was portrayed…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Apr 28, 2017 |
This book tells the story of a Chinese princess who rejects her traditional role and becomes a notorious figure in pre-WWII Japan. Based on a true story, the premise of this tale is really interesting. Eastern Jewel's rebellious spirit leads her to flee her arranged marriage and become a Japanese spy. However, the writer fails to make Eastern Jewel a sufficiently sympathetic protagonist, and the story falls flat.

Despite how unfortunate her life was, I couldn't help but feel like she deserved a lot of the misfortune because of how she behaved and treated others. The story was rather dense with narration instead of dialogue, but that wasn't the problem – it was the way everything was explained to death by the protagonist when it would've been clear enough through her actions instead.
The way Eastern Jewel used her sexuality to appeal to men, to use them, and to be used herself got old quickly, and it became a constant thing that was expected from her without fail. Towards the end, it just became heartless and boring the way men fell in love with her (and apparently she with them) and she abandoned them. She wasn't sympathetic at all, and that's exactly why I couldn't rate this book the four stars I was going to give it.

Her role in the war wasn't explained as well as I would have liked, because it still didn't make a lot of sense to me that she was abandoned by everyone and made into such a villain. Even though she was involved with the Japanese military, and was the one who encouraged Emperor Pu Yi to move to Manchukuo, her role felt so minor that it didn't justify her downfall. Her military career was something that the writer could've explored more instead of her sexual encounters, because that would have made the end feel less rushed and abrupt, and more deserved. At least I felt a bit of worry when she was arrested but because of the foreshadowing from earlier I knew what was going to happen (not that it cheapened it).
Perhaps if there were less explaining and defending, and more reflection on her life choices, it would've been better. At least it was a great book that allowed me to delve into a section of history that I wasn't familiar with, and it still was enjoyable to read despite the irritating personality and mindless actions taken that made up this fictional version of Eastern Jewel. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Feb 9, 2016 |
My mother-in-law brought this over just when I was about to go searching for new fiction. I started reading it because all of my hold books at the library are in flux . . . and because I've been a sucker for Anchee Min's fictional take on historical figures in China. This, in no way, bore a resemblance to the aforementioned author's work. Instead, it had a bodice-ripper meets opium feel that left me wanting to hide the fact that I was reading it. It did, however, make me want to learn more about the real Eastern Jewel and her place in Chinese/Japanese history.

( )
  beckydj | Mar 31, 2013 |
“I understand that there are two kinds of women, those who give
up the adventure of their lives to live safely and well thought of,
and women like me who live as we choose, whatever the price.”

These words of Eastern Jewel reflect her thoughts on life, and in The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley, we read of her adventures and the choices she makes that give her a very adventures life indeed. Disgraced at the age of eight and sent from her home in China to be raised by strangers in Japan, at a very young age she learns how it feels to be abandoned, ignored and unloved. She grows to adulthood vowing to create her own opportunities, an outwardly strong, confident woman who knows how to seduce men and use them to advance her interests.

Based on the true story of Yoshiko Kawashima, a Chinese princess who became a Japanese spy during World War II, this book outlines her controversial life as she develops into a woman who manipulates all who come into contact with her. But really, who is the victim here? Eastern Jewel is far from a likeable person but one can’t help but feeling a little sad for her as she mistakes her exploitation as a type of freedom.

I enjoyed this book, and in particular, I enjoyed the fact that Eastern Jewel was never an innocent, never a nice person and was always on the lookout for whatever she thought would be the best for her at the time. She makes no apologies and accepts the consequences of her choices. I found this a fascinating character study of a woman who tries to live her life on her terms only. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Nov 8, 2012 |
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To Clive, Daniel, and Liberty, with love.
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In 1914, at the age of eight years, I was caught spying on my father Prince Su as he made love to a fourteen-year-old girl.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Banished as a young child from her early twentieth-century family palace, princess Eastern Jewel spends her formative years loving her adoptive family before being forced to learn the ways of an obedient wife and escaping to a career with the Japanese secret service.… (more)

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