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The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by…

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel (edition 2009)

by Maureen Lindley

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2505145,873 (2.89)37
Title:The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Authors:Maureen Lindley
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2009), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
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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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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 |
An interesting read off my long-term TBR pile. Based on the true life, much stranger than fiction, this is the story of a girl who goes from Chinese princess to Japanese spy.

This is a gripping read, but difficult at times. Eastern Jewel, or Yoshiko as she was known in Japan, is a woman beyond her time. Independent, fiercely loyal to her adopted country, but it is a country which betrays her just as she needs it. She is a prickly woman, honest in her encounters with men, but I felt pity for her as she was also the product of a cruel upbringing, passed between men at a young age.

It was well-written, but it was uncomfortable, warts and all. I felt that she had been conditioned, her fierce loyalty for Japan came from abuse, as did her rejection of China. It is this discomfort that makes me give it 2 and a half stars, not because I didn't like the writing style. ( )
  soffitta1 | Mar 26, 2012 |
Sadly, I found this novelization of a fascinating Chinese princess somewhat boring. Even the numerous sex scenes fail to really spice up the narrative. The author attempts to make the cruel heroine likable and I wonder if the novel might have been better if she had not tried. I did find the historical character of Yoshiko interesting, and after reading the facts of her life and the times in which she lived, I wish it had been novelized in a more exciting and engrossing manner and more true to the spirit of her era. ( )
1 vote wagner.sarah35 | Nov 20, 2010 |
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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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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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