It is my pleasure to be on the blog tour for this book. “The Shogun’s Queen” by Lesley Downer. Part of a series called “The Shogun’s Quartet”,
This story is based in Japan during 1851-1858, a period in history when Japan is under threat from America and Britain. Although they trade with Holland successfully, the other countries want to set up ports and bases on the island, making more demands and wanting treaties signed. As this is going on the main story takes place, that of a young girl from the Satsuma Province at the south of the island, her name is Okatsu and she has been chosen for an important role. Her family has ideas that a country girl from a notable family can be elevated to the Imperial Palace in the north. She has absolutely no say in her future at all.
Lesley has created a historical fiction novel with a huge amount of detail, culture, customs, traditions, history, social class and values from Japanese life. As you read through this story, it is easy to notice the time effort and research that has been put into this, what also comes across for me is , is that the author has an obvious love for this country and it’s people. For me what I found great about this book is the amount of things I learnt from it, I have a basic knowledge of Japan and its history, but this book goes a lot further. The formalities and workings at the palace for a young girl entering this isolated and secluded world amazed me. I loved the fact that a lot of the main characters actually existed. The descriptions Lesley has given of each character and the way she has described the country is wonderful.
There are some really handy inclusions in this book to aid the reader, maps, a list of characters and their roles and a very insightful afterward. In the afterward she explains how a lot of the characters actually existed, they can be researched. Also how she did take liberties with some things. But the vast majority of the book is nearly true to fact.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, I found it a very addictive and easy read given the amount of detail that is included.
This is my first encounter with this amazing and talented author, it will not be my last. I highly recommend this book for readers of historical fiction
The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.
When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.
Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .
The second, The Last Concubine, was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year 2009 and translated into 30 languages. The other two novels are The Courtesan and the Samurai and The Samurai’s Daughter. My non-fiction on Japan includes Geisha: The Remarkable Truth Behind the Fiction and Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West. I’m also a journalist and travel writer, give lectures and teach Creative Writing at City University in London.
- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Corgi; 01 edition (27 July 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 055216349X
- ISBN-13: 978-0552163491
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