Lee M. (Tulsa, OK)
A Chinese Japanese Puzzle
The subject of this book is the first half of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of a Chinese/Japanese princess. Eastern Jewel is a rebellious Chinese princess, banished to a Japanese family by her father. She comes to love Japan, and acts as a spy for Japan in China during the Second World War. I was particularly interested in the setting of the story. Much has been written about this period, but not from the point of view of an Oriental woman. A very interesting read.
Jean L. (Deerfield, IL)
An interesting story
This was an intriguing book that described a time, place and culture about which I knew little. I would have liked this book more if it had given more description of the Japanese, Chinese and Mongolian cultures of the time period. It was clearly a time of great change from the ancient to the modern and a broader view of society would have been helpful. The main character was not a very likable person but was never boring. She was, perhaps understandably, rather shallow. That being said, it was a very interesting story.
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
Unbelieveable and tiresome
I was looking forward to an interesting read about a strong woman living on the edge in an oppressive time and culture. What I got was a salacious book littered with the stereotypical ideas of Asian culture; geisha, opium, mysterious dreams, etc.
It was a disappointment from start to finish.
Aleta S. (Bainbridge Island, WA)
The Potential Remains
I began this selection with anticipation because I especially enjoy historical fiction. A strong, unique female protagonist driven amidst events of war and intrigue held great promise.
Eastern Jewel seemed not to reach its potential. I was ultimately unable to overcome a feeling of watching myself read, rather than losing myself in the novel: a sign of predictability in my reading (e.g., repeated dream sequences and tedious sexual encounters). That said, I’d try another effort by the same author. I think Maureen Lindley has more and better ahead.
Brenda S. (Grand Rapids, MN)
One of the best books I have ever read. Maureen Lindley takes hold of you from the very first page and takes you on a ride that is exhilarating and, at times, exhausting. The raw details and non-judgmental story will keep anyone carrying this book around until the last page. There is another popular Asian book out now that can't even compete with this book. The format (all the chapter titles made me hungry?) is perfect for the whirlwind story of a headstrong woman in a time when women are considered lowly lifeforms. Thank you, Maureen Lindley!
Elyse G. (Creswell, OR)
Intriguing character, engaging story
I enjoyed the story of Eastern Jewel. I had never heard of this person before, but knowing that she was real, even if all the events and emotions may not have been, made it all the more interesting.
It is told in very simple, straightforward prose. At first I found the style to be a little jarring, but at some point I realized that it was the voice of the character - detached, unemotional. She was simple recounting her history truthfully, with no apology.
The glimpses into various other cultures added another layer of interest for me, and while I wouldn't rave about this book, I did find it totally engrossing.
Lori L. (La Porte, IN)
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
In The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel, author Maureen Lindley paints a fascinating portrait of a Chinese princess banished from her home and raised in Japan. Her loyalty to her adopted nation led her to become a spy for them and ultimately to her undoing. What I found interesting about this true story was its portrayal of the changing roles of women in Japan in the years leading up to WWI. Eastern Jewel was raised to be a traditional Japanese woman, whose main role in life was to be pleasing to men. She chose to use her beauty and sexuality, not just to please men, but to manipulate them to her ends. In this way, she was decidedly modern.