Kate's Reviews > The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria

The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria by Laura Joh Rowland
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's review
Jan 09, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Another solid entry in one of my favourite series. One thing I really liked about this book were the varying juxtapositions of roles of the main women. Reiko's rare freedom in such a closed, phallic society that cares more about appearance than feelings. Lady Yanagisawa's imprisonment, though her rank should give her more freedom than her shyness allows. Reiko who has a husband that actually desires her, and Lady Yanagisawa, who has a husband that barely acknowledges her existence. Wisteria, living the life of a whore, whose station in life grows bitter seeds of hatred in her, and Midori, trapped between love and her crazy family's wishes.

Though the books take place in the late 1600s in a world so very different than what I've experienced, the characters and their feelings feel almost modern, their problems mirrored even today. Though Lady Yanagisawa's plot to destroy Reiko to steal her good luck is very based in a world that believes in that, I could completely understand her situation, being trapped in a marriage where she feels great love while her husband cares nothing for her. I could also embrace her painful shyness and lack of social graces, being a shy person myself. I can also completely relate with Reiko's fiery spirit. While I may be shy at first, I'm also very independant, and love Reiko for her own shirking of the shackles society's put on her. And what woman can't empathize with Midori, getting knocked up by her man, fearful of how her family will react?

The mysteries of Sano are always also interesting in the fact that he can't use forensics, or any kind of Western means of investigating. Sherlock Holmes didn't have DNA typing, but he wasn't as restricted by the society he lived in as Sano, which makes his cases always interesting. The political scape of The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria is just as much a character as any of the human ones, and feels just as perilous as any of the swordfigths between samurai opponents.

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