The Jade Lioness (Choc Lit)
by Christina Courtenay
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
I love books that show an insight into other cultures, especially historical ones. I’m also fascinated by Japan and China, so I was really pleased to receive this for review.
Its a fascinating read, and with some realistic characters. Even in the West in this time period women were chattels subject to their male relatives, so seeing how they were treated in Japan wasn’t a surprise. Temi (Temperance) felt restricted after so many months stuck with the others on a tiny island, the closest the Shogun will allow the traders to get to Japan itself. Feeling stifled she sneaked out one evening to swim and there met Kazuo. He told her he was an outlaw, but they struck up an unlikely friendship anyway. I loved the rapport between them, right from the first meeting it felt like they had something special.
Temi is unusual for a female in that age, fearless to have undertaken the journey to Japan from England, educated and intelligent, and she somehow just trusts Kazuo. She’s picked up the language and is able to converse with him ( and later other Japanese natives). He tells her about his mission to clear his family’s name and honour, though its a precarious journey with no promise of success. Honour is very strong to the Japanese though, and his family were important and close to the Shogun until his father was framed for theft. He’s trying to find out and prove the truth.
You get a real sense of the poverty in the country, contrasting with the riches for the top few, a feeling of how dire times were for some families, how they had no other option, and oddly how often the children just accepted their fate being sold at a young age. Its as if it’s so common they seem to feel its normal – and to a degree it is. In the 1600’s here in the UK kids were being used as child labour, and families struggled to feed them so they were sold or hired out when very young.
I loved too the description of the houses, of the wooden frames and rice paper walls and windows, of the beautiful decorations the wealthy had in their homes, and how different life was for them from those at the bottom of society. Like that everywhere in a way, even now, but still interesting to read about life then. We see some of the underside of the country in this story. Life from the view point of those at the base, along with seeing the beautiful countryside even though its harsh on them.
Its a hard journey and a fascinating read, and a story I really enjoyed. Its got the perfect ending too, wraps things up with a feeling of satisfaction for me.
Stars:Five, a fabulous, engrossing read and I’ll look out for more from Christina.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.
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