Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: The Printmaker's Daughter

'The Printmaker's Daughter'
Author: Katherine Govier

Format: Paperback
Published: Harper Perennial; Nov. 2011
Pages: 512
Genre: Historical fiction
Grade: C
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as they work on Hokusai’s countless paintings and prints. Wielding her brush, rejecting domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts, Oei defies all expectations of womanhood—all but one. A dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her place in history.
Vivid, daring, and unforgettable, The Printmaker’s Daughter shines fresh light on art, loyalty, and the tender and indelible bond between a father and daughter.

My Take: I have been reading a ton of historical fiction this year, well for me anyway, and loving it! It was the genre of books that made me first really find my love of reading so anytime I delve into a new historical fiction book I am happy. 

The Printmaker's Daughter was about a part of history that I haven't read much of so I was certainly intrigued. I have read a few Japanese historical fiction books in the past and always enjoyed them. This book takes us on the journey of Oei, the daughter of a famous painter, Hokusai, who is raised in the artist's tradition. Set in the 1890's during a time of political unrest, and a hard time for artists, I found this to be an interesting period for the book to be set. I enjoyed seeing how Hokusai, the father, took Oei, his daughter, under his wing, even though normally she would have been with her mother all day. 

For all of the pluses and things that I learned, there were many more that I struggled with. For starters this book is very long, over 500 pages. And while some parts are interesting, many of the sections are dull and not fast paced. Some flow together and some do not. It had an odd pacing. Also, assuming that all of the characters within the book were Japanese there was an odd dialect spoken by many of them. I am guessing that Govier was going for what they might have sounded like if they were speaking in English, and here I am speaking mainly of the section with the prostitutes, but it was weird. They had almost a valley girl accent with a bunch of 'likes' and 'yeah, ok's' in their speech making the reading stilted for me.

Overall, I am glad I read about a part of history I had never read before but the execution was difficult for me to follow through.

If you are looking for some historical fiction set in Asia, might I recommend: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee (click on titles for my review). 

For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!

Cover Lust: I loved this cover! The contrasting colors make for a very dramatic and eye-catching cover!


  1. Hmm. I love historical fiction, but I'm struggling with the "Valley Girl" narrative you describe. I think it might make me nuts. But thanks for the great review!

  2. i'm a fan of historical fiction too although i haven't read any that take place in Japan yet. I think I'll start with your other suggestions before reading this one. I have to admit, seeing the book at 500 pages is a little intimidating.

  3. I don't think this is one I'll be reading any time soon. 500 pages that don't flow well is not something I would want to tackle at this point.

  4. The book does sound good, but those dull parts, eh not so much

  5. I wasn't a huge fan of this one either. I was fascinated by the setting and time period, but it dragged too much to make up for the dull parts.

  6. The pacing has been mentioned by others as well.

    I am not a huge fan of Historical Fiction. I almost never reach for it on my own, but when I do find myself reading that genre, I am always surprised at how much I enjoy it. Apparently I love it, but don't know it :)

  7. The "Valley Girl" speech and the slow pacing makes me hesitant. Sounds like it covers an interesting part of history though.

  8. I know what you mean about the genre that made you love reading. For me, that's mysteries, and I go back to it again and again when I want some comfort reading.

    Sounds like a really fascinating setting. Sorry this one didn't blow your socks off. Thanks for being on the tour!

  9. I haven't been drawn to 'historical fiction' yet. Maybe I should step out of my comfort zone and try reading a book or two in that genre. However, it won't be this one. 500 pages, for my first historical fiction read, I don't think so.

  10. Thanks for your honesty. I think I'll skip this one.

  11. I don't think I've read any historical fiction set in Japan. I'll keep this and your other 2 recommendations in mind.


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