The Printmaker’s Daughter

Written by Katherine Govier
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Readers will cherish this story and not soon forget the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1839). The famous painter of The Great Wave had a daughter. Not much is known about Katsushika Oei other than that she worked with her father. Speculation has emerged that paintings originally attributed to Hokusai may have been hers. It was common for his protégés to sign their master’s name to their work, along with his stamp.

Katherine Govier imagines the life of Oei from her own in-depth research. In her historical novel, Oei is portrayed as an independent woman who was raised around courtesans in the streets of Edo. The political climate during the 19th century was a time when artists, musicians, and novelists feared the regime. Oei was a devoted daughter to Hokusai, and he adored her. She was chained to him, without question. As she says in the novel, “A husband can be left, but a father cannot. He is always attached…”

Her father Hokusai, considered the “Dickens of Japan,” was highly successful yet never wealthy, as he faced the challenges of war and earthquakes during his life. Oei became a masterful painter in her own right, but uncovering her history reveals a trick that prevented her fame.

Katherine Govier creates an image of Oei that will beguile the hardest of hearts. She emerges as a strong, sensitive and talented personality and artist. This captivating novel of a remarkable woman would pair well with a screenplay adaptation.

Govier’s writing style is imaginative and irresistible. The unique father-daughter bond is captured with honest sensitivity, and the picturesque beauty and vivid color shapes her setting and characters. Not to be missed, this is sure to be an historical novel bestseller.