The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel

Written by Maureen Lindley
Review by Sara Wilson

Rather than being demure and submissive, Chinese princess Eastern Jewel is sexually provocative, inquisitive and precocious. In 1914 her father tires of her behaviour and sends her to live with his Japanese blood brother, Kawashima. Seduction, marriage, theft, escape and numerous casual sexual dalliances highlight her life.

Her outrageous behaviour, marked by greed and generosity in equal measure, eventually leads her into the life of high-class prostitution and from there to spying. As in all aspects of her life, Eastern Jewel is the mistress of her own success and downfall and yet, for all her boldness and liberation she is essentially vulnerable and, at times, breathtakingly naïve.

Based on the true story of Yoshiko Kawashima, The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a ruthlessly honest account of a very flawed woman who was painted as a demon by the people who used her and eventually destroyed her. War, intrigue and sexual manipulation make for an explosive mix and this novel is definitely hot stuff.

Although she was hated in her day, Maureen Lindley’s Eastern Jewel is not a monster and deserves all the pity the reader undoubtedly feels for her. The exotic setting, glamorous characters and dangerous intrigue combine to create a riveting, haunting read.