Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: The Printmaker's Daughter

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Printmaker's Daughter
Author: Katherine Govier
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: Paperback; 494
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
Genre: Historical Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy vivid storytelling and historical references.

Add it on: Goodreads / ShelfariAmazon / B&N
A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place in history in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimed author Katherine Govier. In the evocative tale of 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’s Daughter delivers an enthralling tale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei, the mysterious daughter of master printmaker Hokusai, painter of theThirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In a novel that will resonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the sights and sensations of an exotic, bygone era form the richly captivating backdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, art and authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history.

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 known to be fact, and mixes it gorgeously with a fictional story.

In the beginning, Ei is shown as the favorite of her father. She is afforded a freedom that most women didn't have at this time. Galavanting around town, meeting people from all different walks of life, and even being allowed to attend places that children weren't technically allowed to go. Ei's ability to slip unnoticed into these places allows the reader to get a through glimpse at what life was like for the common people during this time. I thought it was truly brilliant how much Ei is allowed to experience, and therefore how much the reader is as well.

As Ei gets older, Katherine Govier really shows the truth behind this young girl's life. The reader follows as Ei tries to make a place in the world for herself. Constantly belittled by her father and told she is nothing, it is her strength that really drew me in. Until her dying breath, she faced the world head on and did what she felt was right for her. In fact, all the characters in this story are strong and wonderfully written. The first person narrative is beautifully done, and it is very easy to become immersed in this story.

The Printmaker's Daughter is hauntingly beautiful and well written. The vivid characters bring the story to life, and really were what kept me reading on. If I had one complaint, it would be that there were times when Ei's story became a little heavy in the historical descriptions. However, considering the topic, it makes perfect sense. I'm simply not a reader who often delves into Historical Fiction, so it was a different read for me. The discussion at the end of the book ties everything together, and definitely answered all the questions I had left upon finishing this intriguing book. 

If you are a reader who enjoys historical fiction, this is a book that you will fall in love with. I definitely recommend Katherine Govier's The Printmaker's Daughter and look forward to more from this author.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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