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164. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley...

September 22, 2009
the private papers of eastern jewelAbout the book:
An electrifying epic, based on the incredible true story of a Chinese princess turned spy.

Peking, 1914. When the eight-year-old princess Eastern Jewel is caught spying on her father’s liaison with a servant girl, she is banished from the palace, sent to live with a powerful family in Japan. Renamed Yoshiko Kawashima, she quickly falls in love with her adoptive country, where she earns a scandalous reputation, taking fencing lessons, smoking opium, and entertaining numerous lovers. Sent to Mongolia to become an obedient wife, Yoshiko mounts a daring escape and eventually finds her way back to Peking high society—this time with orders from the Japanese secret service.

Based on the true story of a rebellious woman who earned a controversial place in history, The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a vibrant reimagining of a thrilling life—a rich historical epic of palace intrigue, sexual manipulation, and international espionage.

drey's thoughts:
I requested this book based on the cover--I didn't know who Eastern Jewel was, which makes me wonder if I should somehow be ashamed to not know the history of my own race? Anyway. I asked for it, received it, and read it.

I have to admit, it took me a while to finish. Not because I didn't enjoy the book, but because the subject's life--while it must have been entertaining and adventurous to her--made me feel sad that she was as exploited as she was, and how willingly she participated in her own exploitation, all in the guise of freedom. Abandoned by her own family, mistreated by her adoptive family, and married off to live in a wasteland (especially when compared to her former homes!), Eastern Jewel, a.k.a. Yoshiko Kawashima, decides to make of the rest of her life what she wants. And so she runs.

Who knows if she might have been better served by staying in Mongolia? It's a moot point anyway, seeing as how her feet were set firmly on the path she was to traverse, from the tender age of fifteen. One wonders how her life might have differed, if the women in her adoptive family would have tended to her better than they did. Or if the family she was born into, would have kept her and taught her instead of sending her off to Japan.

As penned by Maureen Lindley, Eastern Jewel's story will resonate with those who seek to overcome society's mores to live their lives on their own terms. It also serves as a precautionary tale as to the predators who are willing to assist in achieving that life, yet exact a price--one that may be too high to contemplate.

Inasmuch as this is a fictionalized account of the life of a Chinese-princess-turned-Japanese-spy, I mourn the loss of a daughter of China to China's inability to love her own daughters.

Title: The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Author: Maureen Lindley
ISBN-10: 1596917032
ISBN-13: 9781596917033
ARC: 285 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub


Anna said...

Wonderfully written review. I really want to read this one.

Diary of an Eccentric

Jo-Jo said...

Great review Drey...I have this one for review as well and I am looking forward to it. Sounds like a captivating read.

bermudaonion said...

Your review is fantastic! I didn't realize this is a fictionalized account of a real person's life.

drey said...

Thank you, y'all... Kathy, I didn't realize that, either. And I'm honestly still thinking about the life she led. Stories like these stick with me for a while--and make me realize how lucky I am to have been born, and outside of China at that...

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