The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley
Eastern Jewel was the daughter of a Chinese prince and one of his concubines. After spying on her father having sex with a servant girl when she was 8, Eastern Jewel was sent to live with a friend of her father’s in Japan, where she was raped at the age of 15 by her adoptive grandfather and shortly thereafter by her adoptive father. Yes, she was willing (disturbingly so), but she was a teenager and these men were her adoptive family! She then proceeded to have sex with just about anything that moved, before becoming a spy for Japan against her native country during World War II.
Okay, did we really need to read about – in detail- EVERY sexual experience that Eastern Jewel ever had? About how she enjoyed the pain her adoptive father liked to inflict, or how she later realized that she liked brutal men because she was secretly lusting after her father? No, I don’t really think that we did. Maybe some of it was necessary, since it did lead into how she got her job as a spy – although, interestingly, not how much of her spying was conducted – but literally the first 2/3 of the book were entirely consumed by her sleeping her way through her life.
I was really very interested in Eastern Jewel’s life as a spy, but if only 80-100 pages were needed to tell that part of her story, perhaps this book didn’t need to be 300 pages long, maybe 150 at the most. I will say, though, that Lindley is a talented author. Her writing and storytelling ability made the first 2/3 of the book at least somewhat bearable for me. Still, though, this would have been a ‘did not finish’ if I had not been reading it for the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, because 2/3 of the book seemed to have very little to do with the overall story and were just salacious for the fun of it. The last 1/3 of this book was interesting enough to almost make the whole thing worthwhile, but not quite. If I was one who rated books, I’d give it 2.5 stars; if I had been asked to rate it 2/3 of the way though it would have probably merited only 1.5 stars.
Source: I received this book from the publisher after I was chosen by LibraryThing to receive it.