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The Printmaker's Daughter

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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  394 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,004)
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Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Three stars and a 'read' tag because I made it almost to 60%; it just shouldn't require this much effort to read. As is indicated by the three stars instead of a 1 or a 2 as I was tempted, there are several redeeming aspects to The Printmaker's Daughter. The relationship between Hokusai and Oei is more important and complex than any other in the novel (in fact, she defines herself by him/his work as is hinted at in the title), the city of Edo itself is vibrantly drawn and realized, from the Corn ...more
Chrissie
SPOILER FREE!!!

If you are interested in Hokusai's art work, I highly recommend this book. I have presented a general synopsis of what the book concerns below. Here I want to explain my view of the book on completion.

Very, very little is known about Hokusai's life and practically nothing about his daughter. It has been noted that Hokusai died at the age of 89 in 1849. His work is stamped and signed. and his age is indicated on the stamp. How is it possible that such a very large number of his pi
...more
Robbin
I had very high hopes for this book. I majored in Japanese literature and art, so I like to think that I know my stuff. Learning about a female painter? Certainly unheard of. But this book did not pass my 100-page "interest mark". After reading part one, I realized I didn't care much for what Oei did with her life for the next twenty thousand parts of the book. I find the book entirely too long. Maybe I'll try reading it again when it doesn't sound like she just browsed through an Asian art muse ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Drawn in by the pretty cover and the lure of Japan, I had little idea what to expect of this novel. Although the title suggests that the tale would be all about the relationship of a father and daughter, I did not really suspect that would be almost the entirety of what it was about. There is little romance. Mostly, this is a story of art and the family ties between these two.

Actually, given the romance there was, I am glad there was not more. The men Oei took up with were rather creepy, especia
...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I couldn't be more unfamiliar with 19th century Japan, but from the first page, Govier plunks the reader in the rich, seedy, struggling world of Edo, where the common people are forbidden to own pictures, maps, or books, and artists make catalogs of courtesans and paint Westerners in secret. Our narrator is Oei; her father is Katsushika Hokusai, creator of the iconic print 'The Great Wave at Kanagawa'. A complicated, tempestuous figure, Hokusai was a prolific artist as well, living well into his ...more
Deborah
"The Printmaker's Daughter" is a book of considerable consternation. While the overall story of artists Hokusai and his daughter, Oei, is complex and interesting, it falls short somehow in this translation to novel.

As a subject of art history, theirs is a biographical tale that is fascinating. Finding out that an example of Oei's work is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts especially captured my attention! ( I'm making tracks to see it when I go home to visit my children and grands.) It's also int
...more
Shruti
I had mixed feelings about this book. I picked it up because it was supposed to be like The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, which I also enjoyed.

The sections about the art were basically the saving grace for me in this book. The pictures are beautifully described - and the discussion of how she draws the lines is lovely. Oei is a strong woman who, perhaps through bad luck of inopportune circumstances or perhaps through bad decisions or some mixture thereof, falls in with bad men who can't
...more
Autumn Brady


I am a ghost.

I am a shadow.

I am a woman.

I am an artist.

I am Oei.



A well written and well researched fictional autobiography of great Japanese artist Hokusai's (Most famous painting "The Great Wave") daughter and apprentice Oei. Not much is known about Oei though it is known she had great artistic talents like her father. This book explored Oei's interesting character, complex relationships as a unique woman and the regulations enforced to avoid self expression in nineteenth century Edo, Japan.
...more
Melody Schreiber
Oei is a painter in her father’s studio, his oldest and most faithful disciple. Her father, Hokusai, is a famed artist throughout Edo, and his influence is reaching other parts of Japan as well. Despite the shogun’s censorship of art and free speech, Hokusai’s work only grows in popularity, and he even sells his art to the Dutch traders who are allowed limited engagement with Japan.

From the day she was born, her mother—Hokusai’s second wife—gave Oei up to her father, and the two became a pair. A
...more
Steven Buechler
A complex and compelling story about art and 19th-Century Japan. A must read.

-Page 225
"Life, like art, is full of incident. Some people's more than others'.
My father's life, like his art was broad, scattered with figures, events, characters, exertion everywhere - up planks and up mountains, across rivers, on platforms - twinkling and never dull. There was no emphasis. Everything was in competition; anything could distract the eye. A little man at the edge of the paper carrying a bucket will be g
...more
Staci
Dec 07, 2011 Staci rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Tour Books
Every once in a while a book comes along that piques my interest enough for me to explore the characters further on my own time. This is one of those stories. Govier has taken real people and painted a life so vivid, so haunting that I felt the need to learn more about Hokusai and his daughter, Oei. At the beginning of the story I honestly had a hard time becoming engaged with the characters and I must admit to being quit turned off by the seedy underbelly of Edo (Tokyo). But as I was reading th ...more
Alison
Oops, I finished this at least a week ago but apparently didn't review it, so this will be brief. It took me a little while to warm up to this book, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. This is the story of Oei, the daughter of a celebrated Japanese artist of the 19th century -- real people, both. Oei trains beside her father and eventually takes over running his studio. Govier does a lovely job of showing us Oei's life, and how the social and historical pressures of the time shaped it. I ...more
Ruthie
Nowhere near as good as Three Views of Crystal Water, this is the story of the daughter of a renowned Japanese artist. She is an artist in her own right and to this day there are many questions about which existing works are hers and which are her father's. An interesting view of life in Japan under the rule of the Shoguns.
Berrendsci
Interesting imagining of the famous printmaker and his care-taking daughter set in 19th century Edo. I really wish they had included the images that are referenced in this story as now I must go hunt them down.
Clare
The Printmaker’s Daughter reasonably good piece of historical fiction about the overshadowed daughter of Hokusai, but the pinch of incest and lack of establishment hurt it. If you’d like.
The Holy Terror
Mar 15, 2012 The Holy Terror marked it as will-never-read
Shelves: think-about
If you know me, you know that this is the EXACT type of book I would read. I'm actually surprised I had never heard of it before, and now I'm a little bit sad that I'll never get to read it.
Chris Carter
A story of the possible relationship between the Japanese artist Hosukai and his daughter, exploring the possibility that many of his drawings were, in fact, her work.
Ej
The American slang for the geishas was a bit hard to take but once they were out of the story, loved learning about Hokusai and daughter.
Bookaholic
Fiica lui Hokusai, de Katherine Govier este una dintre cărțile care desfac istoria oficială și o cercetează maniacal, din cît mai multe unghiuri, pentru a înțelege de ce anumite figuri au ajuns canonice, iar altele, deși ar fi avut aceleași merite, abia ocupă o margine sau nici măcar atît.

În cazul de față, personajul istoric căruia scriitoarea canadiana Katherine Govier încearcă să-i facă dreptate este pictorița Oei, fiica lui Hokusai, despre al cărei talent se spune că l-ar fi depășit chiar pe
...more
Shomeret
I thought that the central character is as resourceful a survivor as her father, the well-known Japanese painter Hokusai. The book makes a convincing case that she was responsible for many of the works credited to Hokusai. The afterword which details what scholars currently think makes Govier's case even stronger.

I was also interested to learn about a continuing Dutch presence in the early 19th century. I knew about Japan having a trade relationship with the Dutch beginning in the 17th century,
...more
Beth Dawkins
Oei is the daughter of the famous artist, Hokusai. It is about their life and art in the Edo period of Japan.

This is a historical fiction on the events of Oei’s life. From the time of her birth she has a kinship with her father who is eccentric, and often times called mad. The start of the story has Oei growing up around the entertainment part of town. They meet Shino, a daughter of a noble, who treated her husband badly and was sent to live as a prostitute. Women didn’t have much of a say in th
...more
Vicki
Katherine Govier tackles the history/fiction dichotomy in her extensively researched and exquisitely crafted The Ghost Brush, and as such, helps to define the gold standard of historical fiction. She does that by vividly raising one individual from the footnotes of another individual's historical record. It's history turned to fiction, then provocatively and not improbably turned back into history - and it's unforgettable.

Katsushika Hokusai was a revered, prolific Japanese painter and printmaker
...more
Vivian
Nineteenth century Japan is an era most equate with the end of an era. Japan saw the end of the shogun and samurai as it became open to the West. Although it was the end of many cultural practices and traditions, many beautiful artisans were introduced to the West. One such artist was Hokusai. The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier is a fictional account of the lives of Hokusai and his daughter Ei (or Oei).

Ei Katsushika was the third daughter of Hokusai Katsushika. Ei appears to the much-
...more
Jessica
Pulling from history, and adding it's own spin, The Printmaker's Daughter tells the story of Ei Katsushika, the third daughter of Hokusai Katsushika. For those of you who may be fans of Japanese art, or of their rich history, this name will ring a bell. Hokusai was a famous artist at the end of an era. A man who openly and vibrantly put his feelings down into his paintings. Faced with censorship and hardship, Hokusai was a man shrouded in much mystery. The Printmaker's Daughter takes what is kno ...more
Dana
Oei is the daughter of a famous Japanese painter Hokusai, living in 19th century Edo(Toyko), Japan. This is the era of emperors and shoguns. The western world is feared and kept as far as possible from the Japanese.

Hokusai has a large family but chooses his daughter as his apprentice and helper. He loves her and abuses her. Oei is left to deal with their finances, often moving from place to place to dodge creditors. Living conditions are not the best especially for a young lady. Oei lives next t
...more
Nicki Markus
This is a beautiful piece of writing that really captured my attention right from the opening pages.

Oei is a larger than life character, full of spirit and vitality and I was drawn into her story as soon as she appeared. The world we see through her eyes is vividly described with a wonderful attention to detail that helps bring the characters, time and places to life.

It is clear that this story and the period have been well-researched and yet the history never overtakes the story; rather it add
...more
Janie
The Big Wave, by the 19th century artist Hokusai, is perhaps the single most recognized Japanese work of art. The artist Hokusai was prolific and never satisfied with his work. He evolved his style continuously and painted until the end of his long life. Or did he? Govier’s book points to Oei, Hokusai’s unconventional daughter, as the real artist behind the masterpieces produced during the final years of her father’s life.

The Ghost Brush is the story of a woman lost to history, from an era and s
...more
Dot
I'm looking forward to this book as I have an interest in Oriental painting, and in Japanese culture.

I was surprised to find that I didn't add to this review after finishing this book over a year ago. I loved the book and told many of my friends about it so perhaps I thought that I had done enough reviewing.

So yes...this is one of my favourite books of all time. As I mentioned above I study Chinese Brush Painting, and it is closely related to Japanese art so when I was given this book as a birth
...more
Des
In this dual biographical historical novel, readers will experience rich details of Japanese life. Told in first person narrative through Oei's point of view, this is a beautifully written and well-researched story. As with most biographical historical novels, I did find the pace slow at various points in the story. This is normal and to be expected; after all, true life is not always filled with constant turmoil and conflict. Therefore, readers should understand this and enjoy the story for wha ...more
Amy L. Campbell
Note: Advance Reader Copy provided by Netgalley.

Govier does an excellent job at creating a vivid setting for well developed characters. It is easy to become involved with Ei's story as she begins with the image of her riding on the shoulders of her father as a five year old. The love father and daughter have for each other is obvious, but as Ei grows up, the teasing and prodding becomes less jocular and more hurtful as she attempts to have her own life while her father's keeps going.

Many daughte
...more
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Katherine Govier is the author of nine novels, three short story collections, and most recently, a collection of nursery rhymes. Her novel, The Ghost Brush (published in the US as The Printmaker's Daughter), is about the daughter of the famous Japanese printmaker, Hokusai, creator of The Great Wave. Her novel Creation, about John James Audubon in Labrador, was a New York Times Notable Book of the ...more
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“Pictures and words don't hurt anyone, except for those who are afraid of history.” 4 likes
“To learn from him, I did not have to believe he was a good man or a fair man.” 1 likes
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