25 Following

Kagama -The Literaturevixen

I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.





The last concubine by Lesley Downer

The Last Concubine - Lesley Downer

How do you fall in love when your society has no word for it? "The Last Concubine" is an epic love story closely based on historical events, chronicling 19th century Japan's extraordinary change from a medieval to a modern country.


This is the story of a shogun, a princess and the three thousand women of the women's palace - all of whom really existed - and of the civil war that brought their way of life to an end ...Japan, 1865: the women's palace in the great city of Edo is a sprawling complex much like a middle-eastern harem.Bristling with intrigue and erotic rivalries, the palace is home to three thousand women and only one man - the young shogun. Sachi, a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl, is chosen as his concubine.


But Japan is changing. Black Ships have arrived from the West, bringing foreigners eager to add Japan to their colonial empires. As civil war erupts, Sachi flees for her life. Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her; but this is a world in which private passions have no place and there is not even a word for 'love'.


Before she dare dream of a life with him, Sachi must unravel the mystery of her own origins - a mystery that encompasses a wrong so terrible that it threatens to destroy her ...


From the timeless beauty of the Women's Palace in Edo to bloody battles fought outside its walls, "The Last Concubine" is an epic evocation of a country in revolution, and of a young woman's quest to find out who she really is.


 I read many favourable reviews about this book,and many of them were gushing with praise for it. A Japanese “Gone with the wind” With a gorgeous cover. Can you imagine I was so eager to get this book in my hands?


The plot boils down to this: Sachi is a peasant girl who is adopted by a princess.The princess is going to be the shoguns wife. Sachi grows up in the Edo castle and learns the strict protocol of the castle and using a halberd. The heroine becomes noticed by shogun and becomes his concubine.


Cue one creepy sex scene and some bawdy jokes about "picking mushrooms" by some older women. TAnd then we have the shogun unexpectedly dying,adding to the unrest of the land.


War breaks out and Sachi and a handmaiden flees the castle,Sachi posing as the princess.They met up with some ronin samurai and decide to travel with them. After this I lost grip on the plot….except for the love story between Sachi and one of the samurai. What was his name again?


And as for the eriting....


First of all someone hand this author a book about synonyms!


There is only so much repeating of words one can endure. For example someones hair is described as “bushy” throughout the whole book and everyone seems to have “plump” lips.And the plot structure is lacking,feeling sketchy and not that well thought out,the same can be said for the characters up to and including our maincharacter.


 Fascinating history yes but it reads more like a history book than a novel sometimes.

And even if I found the love story touching sometimes..it didn’t have that extra oomph! Like in the real “Gone with the wind”


Just about readable.


If you are interested in the authors claim that there was no word for love in japanese Culture up until the 19th Century. Heres her take on it.