Rated of 5
by Jane H. (Owensboro, KY)
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Giving this book a three might put off some readers from picking it up to read, but I hope it doesn't. Despite the fact that I believe it to be only an "average" read, it does have its moments and I really had no problem staying interested in the story.
I was puzzled throughout the story about the true story aspect. I felt the author could have been more specific in a prologue about exactly how much leeway she took in putting this together. I think a better presentation would have been to print excerpts from the actual diaries (if there were actual diaries) and then fill in the story with dialogue and supposed scenarios. As it was, I think it diluted the effectiveness of what is probably a very interesting behind the scenes story of a Chinese woman recruited by the Japanese to spy for them.
Also, the sexual freeness or obsession of this woman, who lived from circa 1920, was a little unbelievable without some kind of further explanation about why she was so drastically different from the "normal" recluse Asian women of that time.
I would have liked to know more about her Princess status. Not being a Chinese/Japanese history scholar, I couldn't quite put her royal status in perspective. I felt a short rundown on the historical aspect of her position in society would have helped tremendously in fleshing out her character. I couldn't really appreciate the magnitude or scope of her life without more historical background.
These things aside, it really was a fascinating look into the life of a female spy, her motivations and lack of direction which eased her into the amoral life depicted in this book.
So, even with a 3 rating, I think this is an interesting book, worthy of your reading time.