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The Samurai's Daughter (2013)

by Lesley Downer(Favorite Author)
3.91 of 5 Votes: 1
Transworld Digital
review 1: Loved the Meiji atmosphere and the details (ah, by the way, Kodenma Prison wasn’t functioning at the time, that would be Ichigaya)… but was disappointed at the end. The storyline was meh – a Romeo and Juliet story of sorts, only he is not really a poor servant, he’s a prince, read: a samurai. He even has “an aristocratic nose”! She is a willowy, tiny girl, an illegitimate daughter of Saigo Takamori, oops pardon, a General Kitaoka, and his geisha mistress, so she is a samurai too. They almost die, but almost, during the Seinan War of 1877.What is it with the long-suffering samurai, folks? Can we not laugh at them, like the Japanese do? Why so serious? Why are all the people of the other classes vulgar, fat, obnoxious bullies? So the geishas hated the fat merchan... morets and loved the samurai? Yeah right. Please go watch some kabuki. Samurai were pompous, penniless bores, and cut very sorry figures in Edo-period pleasure districts. Also “samurai took orders from no one” – what? Taking orders was about the only thing samurai did. Taking orders was their purpose in life.But whatever, really, I don’t mind samurai that much. The thing which spoiled my enjoyment of the book was the sidestepping of the real historical issues which were the reason for the whole Satsuma rebellion. General Kitaoka, the father of the heroine and the samurai in the title – in reality Saigo Takamori – is shown as the benevolent, simple warrior opposed to the corruption of the politicians in Tokyo and the slow death of the samurai class. The reader is only told this; there is no politics whatsoever in the whole book. The drunken rants of the heroine’s brother don’t count.What the book doesn’t say a thing about is that Saigo Takamori resigned from all of his government positions in protest, because his colleagues were against his proposition of a punitive expedition to Korea. By provoking a war abroad, Saigo was determined to find raison d’ȇtre for thousands of samurai who were left without means of survival after the abolishment of their privileges. He even offered to go to Korea and behave so offensively there that the Koreans would be forced to kill him and therefore start the war. Interesting, no? But it doesn’t look cool, according to our standards, so in the book Saigo remains this jovial, all-forgiving uncle, blessing the lovers from above, and doesn’t touch his weapons ONCE.I didn’t care for anyone. Geisha and samurai have a good press anyway, they don’t need mine. Ah. I liked Tsukasa, the lover of the bully Eijiro. I was hoping he’d redeem her and raise hell in the family. No such luck though. Bye-bye third star.
review 2: I started the book, I read the book, I finished the book. I did it all consecutively that I didn't even have the opportunity to update my status here. It was such a good book that I just continued reading; it was a nonstop activity.I was able to see the Japanese this time in a different light compared to the books that I read about the brutality of the Japanese invasion and occupation of Malaya. In Downer's story of The Samurai's Daughter, it shows the endless events of how the rich and the poor live side by side in the same place yet unable to live in peace with each other. It only shows what reality is all about. Where the rich gets richer, and the poor remains poor. There is no chance for regression in the lifestyles of the poor as they already do not get much, let alone losing what little they already have. Things only start getting messy when someone from the poor community falls in love with someone from the rich and the famous. That's when both parties start to show their ugly sides. Then again, it didn't really matter as both parties were from different clans and both clans were going head-to-head to war to overturn governments and topple political hierarchies.It was amazing of the author Lesley Downer tell the story of how two lovers, each from a clan opposite the other, strive to survive in vastly different backgrounds. How they tried so hard to forget one another as both clans have no obvious similarities and one is more superior than the other. How as times changed, when they have that one moment to meet and face each other, how did they react to that situation and play it accordingly. A well-written book, as proven that whenever I picked it up to read, it was hard to put it down and I felt each emotion the characters experienced course through my veins. I might just actually read it again one day. less
Reviews (see all)
Filled with history, culture and romance, it was a lovely and though-provoking read.
Only the last two chapters were interesting...
Well, it's somewhat fun and easy to read.
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