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The Printmaker's Daughter

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  798 ratings  ·  156 reviews
A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place inhistory in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimedauthor Katherine Govier. In the evocative taleof 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’sDaughter  delivers an enthrallingtale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei,the mysterious daughter of master ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  798 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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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
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, arts, japan, netgalley, bio, hf

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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
Review first posted


First, before going into this book I knew it would be very artsy and full of intricate detail about history and the history of Japanese art which is something I hadn’t given much thought on, but as my mum and I were going to be going on a trip to Japan I just knew this would be a perfect read. I will also say here I know practically nothing about Japanese culture, customs and traditions so I knew when going into this that could work pos
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Japanese wood block prints
Meticulous research has gone into this fictional memoir of Oei Katsushika, the shadowy artist-daughter of the famed Hokusai (1760-1849). His life spanned some 90 years and his works included the woodblock prints of the “Floating World,” the series “36 Views of Mount Fuji” and the “Great Wave off Kanagawa.” Some scholars believe much of the work attributed to Hokusai was actually done in part or in total by Oei. From these arguments, Govier has created an unconventional female character, talented ...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
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Steven Buechler
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
"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
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
Aug 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Beth Dawkins
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
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
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018, gift
I'm not sure I would have read this book a year ago but 2017 turned out to be a bit of a Hokusai year for me in a small way. Or rather in a very large way having spent a short holiday in a house which had The Great Wave as a rather startling mural. I later went to see an 'Exhibition on Screen' as much because I was intrigued to see how that would work as because it was about Hokusai in particular. It was as part of that screening that I heard about Hokusai's daughter Ei and her significance and ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the latest leg of my journey rereading novels of my favourite authors, I pulled Katherine Govier’s “The Ghost Brush” off my bookshelf. I should state that Govier was the instructor in the 4th year, fiction workshop when I did my Creative Writing Degree at York University many years ago. I have been a devotee of her works for many years.

“The Ghost Brush” takes us back to 19th Century Japan – a time when the arts flourished despite a political regime that censured it at every step. It tells the

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.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ebook, netgalley
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
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've ever read. Based on a true story. The daughter of a famous Japanese artist did most of the work in her father's later years, but he continued to get the credit. Katherine Govier evokes the time and place with rich detail and vivid experiential prose. The writing is beautiful. The main character is fascinating. The world is riveting. Read this now. ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Chris Carter
Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 15, 2012 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. ...more
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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-
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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,
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Katherine Govier is the author of eleven novels, three short story collections, and a collection of nursery rhymes. Her most recent novel is The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel (HarperAvenue). Here previous 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 Joh ...more

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“Pictures and words don't hurt anyone, except for those who are afraid of history.” 8 likes
“To learn from him, I did not have to believe he was a good man or a fair man.” 3 likes
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