Thursday, March 7, 2013

Challenge 2013 - Book 3: The Private Papers Of Eastern Jewel

After a children's book and a psychological study, I thought to dip a little bit into the genre of biography.. Well, this "biography" had still a good portion of fiction in it.

The hard facts:

Title: The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Author: Maureen Lindley
288 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (2009)
ISBN: 1596917032

Find it on

 The Story:
After 8-year old Eastern Jewel, 14th daughter of a Chinese prince is caught watching her father's liason with a young servant girl, she is being banished to her father's extended family to Japan. Being neglected by the women of the house there, the rebellious girl seeks the approval from her brothers and adopted father. Due to the sexual abuse in her adolescence she soon learns about the power she can have over men using not only her wits but also her body. After she is being married off to a Mongolian prince and escapes from him within a week at the age of nineteen, she finds her way via Tokyo to Shanghai. There, she finds her way via several lovers into the Japanese secret service. She plays a major part in the Chinese Emperor's escape to Mandshuria and the Japanese taking control in Shanghai. However, during a mission in Beijing, the Chinese regain power; she is abandoned by her adopted country as well as her lovers and friends. After she is handed over to the new ruling police by her bodyguards, she is imprisoned and condemned to death for high treason. While waiting for her execution, an old friend offers to pay a poor family to exchange their dying daughter for Eastern Jewel and rescue her. The book ends as she, contemplating the offer and the consequences on the rest of her life, goes to sleep to make a decision whether to accept the offer and live or decline it and face execution by the sword. 

My opinion:
While the story is entertaining enough, I agree with some other readers that Maureen Lindley tries to fill too many different literary category and doesn't succeed in any. The storyline is entertaining enough for early-morning and after-work bus rides, but doesn't capture like "The Memoires of a Geisha". The descriptions leave to be desired and the characters are often only one-dimensional. While I felt sympathy for Eastern Jewel's desperate search for love and acceptance, her decisions are sometimes a little too random and not necessarily relatable. All in all an entertaining-enough read if you don't mind frequent mild graphic/adult content.

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