Peking, 1914. Eight-year-old Eastern Jewel, daughter of Prince Su’s last concubine, peers from behind a carved screen as her father makes love to a bound-footed servant girl. Overhead the gathering clouds foreshadow the end of peace, and the start of Eastern Jewel’s own tumultuous story. Eastern Jewel is an intoxicating heroine—a feisty, rebellious woman who refuses to accept mutely the docile, subservient role that early 20th-century Chinese society prescribes for her. Her early sexual curiosity sees her banished as a young girl to live with distant relatives in Tokyo, then forced into a passionless marriage in bleak, freezing Mongolia. Increasingly isolated, at night she is plagued by disturbing fantasies and unsettling dreams. But she is a bold, rebellious woman who refuses to be pinned down by anyone—least of all a man—and in the dazzling city of Shanghai she puts her thrill-seeking nature to work spying for the Japanese, spurning her Chinese heritage and everything she once held dear. Based on the real-life story of Yoshiko Kawashima, a fascinating but contradictory heroine who battled to juggle her extraordinary public life with her private paper demons, this is a stormy, vivid, and an utterly intoxicating tale of sexual manipulation and self-discovery that spans three countries and a world war.
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Maureen Lindley is a trained psychotherapist.From Publishers Weekly:
Based on the life of a Qing dynasty princess, this engrossing debut gives the rebellious Eastern Jewel a sensuous, unsentimental voice that draws admiration despite remorseless selfishness. In 1914 Manchuria, the curious, headstrong eight-year-old is sent to live with her father's blood brother Kawashima, who adopts her and renames her Yoshiko. She settles into her new life as a second-tier family member, at odds with the stepmother she secretly longs to please. Precocious, rebellious and beautiful, Yoshiko loses her virginity to her adopted grandfather at 15 and is seduced by her adopted father a year later; her further sexual adventures eventually leave her sterile. Inevitably, Kawashima marries her off, to a Mongolian prince. Unhappy in Mongolia, Yoshiko escapes to Tokyo, where she becomes a professional mistress, and then to Shanghai. As Japan and China tumble into war, one of Yoshiko's new lovers recruits her as a spy; American reporter Jack Stone soon arrives to further complicate matters of loyalty and righteousness. This lush, challenging portrait of a woman who dared to make her own choices—bad though they were—in terrible, oppressive times also makes a steamy historical beach read. (Sept.)
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