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The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,163 ratings  ·  167 reviews
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 entertain ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2008)
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Jul 05, 2009 Shannon rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Ugh - I had so much trouble getting through this book. I made it about halfway through my advanced copy. The descriptions are beautifully done and the book is well-written. However, the character is just simply unlikeable. At first I had sympathy for her but it became painful to read. Every few pages contains a graphic sex scene, most of which involved rough, aggressive sex bordering on BDSM. This is not something I'd choose to read (to each his/her own, no judgement, but not my thing)...but I f ...more
I spent most of this book just wanting it to be over so I could read the next one.

This book is given one star, not because it's the monstrosity seen in some of my other one star reviews, but because of the incredible disappointment it is, and because the author very clearly states in her forward what she wanted from this book, and because she failed so utterly at it.

Lindley says in her forward that she came across the story of Eastern Jewel, and felt that the consistent portrayal of her was that
wow I can't believe this has such a low average rating...... I loved this book. Perhaps lindley's view of Eastern Jewel is slightly romanticised so maybe as an historical record it may not be up to scratch. I definitely enjoyed every minute of this book. The descriptions are amazing & I could practicall smell & taste them.

Oh I also loved the way each chapter was given a title relating to food/drink/scent.

Quite a sad story.
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 e
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a novel written in flowing report/ journal style and details the life of a Chinese Princess who turned her back on her native country to serve its rival, Japan, as a spy. Based on the real-life story of Yoshiko Kawashima, Private Papers dishes up an interesting twist on traditional Asian historical fiction.

The book reads like a strange formula: Eastern Jewel is full of wit and dare, Eastern Jewel wants to seduce Boy, Eastern Jewel uses her clever charms to
This book tells the story of a Chinese princess who rejects her traditional role and becomes a notorious figure in pre-WWII Japan. Based on a true story, the premise of this tale is really interesting. Eastern Jewel's rebellious spirit leads her to flee her arranged marriage and become a Japanese spy. However, the writer fails to make Eastern Jewel a sufficiently sympathetic protagonist, and the story falls flat.

I never felt as though I understood Eastern Jewel's motivations and desires. She's a
This book was written as if Eastern Jewel was writing a memoir. At the end, I wondered why I didn't have a feel for who Eastern Jewel was as a person. I didn't know her motivations, her abandonment issues, her attachment to Japan, or disgust for China. After reading a person's journal for 300 pages, I expect to know a little more! Why didn't Eastern Jewel get more upset about being sterilized after the abortion? Wasn't she scared of the abuse of her stepfather and stepgrandfather? She didn't see ...more
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Not-so-historical fiction, September 8, 2009

First, I wish this book had been billed as pure fiction, rather than 'based on a true story'. I'm not sure how much truth Lindley managed to include in her story - I'm not sure that very much truth is actually known about Eastern Jewel. While her life and story would be riveting to explore, this novel seems taken entirely from Lindley's imagination and relies far too heavily on the princess and her s
I really wanted to like this book. The back cover had everything I usually like - spies, intrigue, based on a true story, Asia, WWII, strong female character.

But the execution did not go as planned. I looked up some real sources for the woman known as Eastern Jewel and the author seemed to take some extreme liberties with her story, liberties that were unnecessary since her real life sounded so interesting. There was a surprising amount of non-con sex in this book and while it tried to play it o
An unusual story based on the true life of a woman who lived in China, Japan and Mongolia, and was the daughter of a Chinese prince and one of his concubines. She was born in 1907 and died in 1948. The story flowed smoothly for me but it certainly was different from many that I have read. From an early age she was made aware of sex as a means of power and control and she certainly seemed to have no hesitation in using sex to her advantage from adolescence until her death. Through her royal conne ...more
I won this from FirstReads!

I was hesitant to start reading this book but the minute I did, I was engrossed until about half way through. It's a dark tale of a Chinese Princess, Eastern Jewel, sent to Japan at a young age. She grows up to live an untraditional life. She's not very likeable. What redeems her are some of her good thoughts and feelings towards people but she doesn't act on them. The sex is hollow and graphic, slightly disturbing. The dream descriptions are distracting.
Tara Chevrestt
This was entertaining.. I felt sorry for Eastern Jewel despite my disgust with her lifestyle choices. The author showed us many possible sides to this controversial woman. The book is written like a memoir starting with Eastern Jewel as a child who is shunned from her home, family, and country of China for spying on her father while he has relations with a concubine. All through her childhood, EJ or Yoshiko as she becomes tries hard to make people love her, but to no avail. Seems everybody has a ...more
Jul 09, 2009 Bridget rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction lovers, China/Japan history lovers
Shelves: 2009-reads
I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those books that everyone else will rave about, and I simply thought was OK ...

Which is not to say it wasn't interesting. This is the story of Princess Eastern Jewel, whose father was of the Qing Dynasty in China, and whose mother was one of the father's concubines. The book begins in Peking, in 1914, when 8-year-old Eastern Jewel is caught spying on her father and a servant girl having what is politely referred to as a "liaison." She is banished
I very nearly had this as a DNF. There was something that about the writing style that immediately turned me off. There's a lot of telling and telling and telling, despite some intermittent details that are actually almost poetic in description.

But I don't like to just be told what's what. I need to be shown to feel it, you know?

That said, there is also something entirely readable about this book. Unlike some other reviews I've read, I wasn't put off by the sexual activity that romps through the
Eileen Souza
Utterly and completely unreadable. This is based on the life of Easern Jewel, Yoshiko Kawashi, who was a cold and heartless ______ (feel free to fill in the blank, they are all true). Not only could I not relate to this character, but her calculating and careless destruction of other people's live sickened me.

The author was trying to write from this woman's perspective, which must have been quite a challange, but the way the "character" thought about things just - it just wasn't human.

I'll neve
This book was my recent Phoenix travel book and I found myself very entertained in reading about Eastern Jewel, a Chinese princess who was given up by her father for adoption by an influential Japanese man. She was later introduced into the world of espionage, which ultimately led to her downfall. The book is pretty racy, but very interesting to learn more of the relationship between China and Japan in the events leading up to World War II. This book is based off of the diary of Eastern Jewel, w ...more
A fictional telling of the life of Eastern Jewel, a Chinese princess who became a spy for the Japanese and was executed for such actions by her own people. As I know nothing of Eastern Jewel, I can't say what was truth and what was literary licence. It was a decently written novel and I felt swept up in the life of the protaganist up to the last 60 or so pages when the writing suddenly began to drag and I ended up skim reading to the end.
This book would've gotten a higher rating for the writing if it weren't for the main character. I enjoyed the setting and how everything was described, but Eastern Jewel was a woman with little to be respected for.

Despite how unfortunate her life was, I couldn't help but feel like she deserved a lot of the misfortune because of how she behaved and treated others. The story was rather dense with narration instead of dialogue, but that wasn't the problem – it was the way everything was explained t
The author explains at the start of this novel her intent in writing this story. Enamored by the real person Eastern Jewell, or Yoshiko Kawashima, the author wants to take what few brushstrokes of this woman's life that are known, and create a backstory to show compassion to the girl, the woman, who became the Japanese spy, who is later executed as a traitor to China. I was intrigued to read this book for this reason, the author's stated intent. A historical novel, a creative imagining of "what ...more
I have to say first, I have not read other reviews so my viewpoint has not been colored. As a first novel I found myself hoping Maureen Lindley will write more. I believe because of the author's background in psychotherapy, fashion design, photography and antiques, she brought an amazing amount of detail together wrapped in the honest emotions of a very unique individual. There was an honesty about the description of the life of "Eastern Jewel" that was non-judgmental and while I never felt I ha ...more
Micelle Coetsee
I enjoyed the authors writing style - being to the point and not overly emotional or descriptive.I started out all excited about the theme and the setting, the characters etc, but as the story continued I lost interest. It was scene after scene, just more of the same. There was no growth and insight gained by main character. In the end I felt cheated out of a resolution. If you like to browse through the personal diary of a promiscuous drug user, then this book is for you. But even in this genre ...more
Amy Do
As riveting and unique as Yoshiko Kawashima's life is, the book failed to portray a believable character. Too much is focused on Kawashima's sex life and other men's sexual exploits and abuse of her, and too little is focused on her life as a spy and a public propaganda figure - one that she is famous for. The novel fails to connect passionately and believably her story arc with the historic background of her time, even though she is an active player in the Asian front of WWII. However, the nove ...more
Kristi Duarte
The story is interesting, based on a real person. But unfortunately the author, Maureen Lindley, has not dived in deeply enough into the main character's emotions to make the story alive. It reads more like "first this happened, then she went there, and then she did this."

I'm also deeply disturbed that she (Eastern Jewel) enjoys being raped by her step grandfather and stepfather at fifteen, and that she is totally OK with being sold to her grandfather's friends and business associates. Incest i
B.A.B.A.E.L I first "met" Eastern Jewel, who would, no doubt, prefer to be called Yoshiko Kawashima, in a fascinating novel about another fascinating Chinese/Japanese Yoshiko, The China Lover by Ian Buruma. In some ways the Eastern Jewel that appears there -- the liberated, cross-dressing spy -- isn't so different from the one that appears in this work. One yearns to know more. The few existing photographs of Eastern Jewel in her male military garb pose so many questions! Needless to say, I was ...more
I enjoyed this book primarily because of the glimpse it offered of Asia's first but least known of femme fetale . The book makes me feel a few ounces of sympathy for Eastern Jewel, also known as Yoshiko or Aisin (like me!), who was born in the wrong time at the wrong place. She had the ambition, sexuality and intelligence that women then were not supposed to have, and I suppose she had the utterly human craving for love, both of which led to her death and execution.

What I didn't like was the f
Found this in my mailbox when we returned from Seattle this weekend and immediately began reading it--another first reads win! Am so pleased--this looks like a good one.

How disappointing! Too much sex and not enough emphasis on the 'spy' part of her story. I'm giving it three stars for the parts of the book I found interesting before it started to get just plain boring.

From the age of 14, Chinese princess Eastern Jewel uses her body and sexual favors as a way of survival. Her Chinese father give
Manchu princess Eastern Jewel is only eight years old when her father banishes her from his home for spying on him. Eastern Jewel has been in trouble since she was a young child, and most of her family is glad to be rid of her. She is sent to live with another family in Japan, and soon comes to think of herself as more Japanese than Chinese. As the years go on, her ties to Japan become stronger as she takes one lover after another (most involved in the military), and eventually begins to spy for ...more
Before reading this book I must admit that I really had no knowledge of Eastern Jewel and what her significance was to both Chinese and Japanese history. Although it is a fictional novel, it was based on facts and contained an ample amount of historical information. I always enjoy historical fiction and for some reason I find myself drawn to fiction with an Asian element even more.

The book opens in 1914 with Eastern Jewel as a Chinese princess living a life of luxury in her father's palace with
This was a book club selection and, while I enjoyed the reading of it, the more we discussed it, the more I found it lacking.

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is based on the real life of a Chinese girl, sold to/adopted by a Japanese family. Initiated into sex by her adopted grandfather, she later becomes involved and obsessed with her adoptive father, and for the rest of her life considers herself to be Japanese. She is married to a Mongolian prince, escapes to Shanghai and from there basic
Chocolate & Croissants
I received my copy of the novel from Bloomsbury USA and Walker Books. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a Manchua princess who turned her back on her ethnicity and spied for the Japanese during the early 30's.

Spying appears to have been in the blood of Eastern Jewel. The Private Papers of Easter Jewel by Maureen Lindley is a fascinating story about the life of Eastern Jewel a Manchu princess who as an 8 year old child is betrayed by her father after she is caught spying on him and a young gir
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Maureen Lindley was born in Berkshire and grew up in Scotland. She was trained as a psychotherapist and also worked as a photographer, antique dealer and a dress designer before writing her first book, The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel. Maureen lives in the Wye valley on the Welsh borders with her husband.
More about Maureen Lindley...

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