The Printmaker's Daughter

The Printmaker's Daughter

by Katherine Govier

Paperback(Original)

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Overview

A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place inhistory in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimedauthor Katherine Govier. In the evocative taleof 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’sDaughter  delivers an enthrallingtale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei,the mysterious daughter of master printmaker Hokusai, painter of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In a novel that willresonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girlwith a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s SnowFlower and the Secret Fan, and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,the sights and sensations of an exotic, bygone era form the richly captivatingbackdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, artand authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062000361
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/22/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 764,326
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Katherine Govier’s most recent novel, The Ghost Brush, was published in the United States as The Printmaker’s Daughter, and in translation in Romania, Spain, Quebec, and Japan. Her novel Creation was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She has won the Marian Engel Award and the Toronto Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the Trillium Book Award. The author of twelve previous books, Katherine Govier divides her time between Toronto, Ontario, and Canmore, Alberta.

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Printmaker's Daughter 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
BookDivasReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nineteenth century Japan is an era most equate with the end of an era. Japan saw the end of the shogun and samurai as it became open to the West. Although it was the end of many cultural practices and traditions, many beautiful artisans were introduced to the West. One such artist was Hokusai. The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Gouvier is a fictional account of the lives of Hokusai and his daughter Ei.Ei Katsushika was the third daughter of Hokusai Katsushika. Ei appears to the much-loved daughter of Hokusai at the beginning of this story. Her father takes her with him around town and affords her freedom that her other sisters never knew. She befriends other artists, poets and even prostitutes in the town of Edo. As she ages, she becomes an indispensable assistant to her father, helping mix paint colors, even working on some of his pictures. In many respects Ei is a free woman in an era when women were never afforded much freedom. She marries, divorces, takes lovers, and assists her father in his work while never learning any of the so-called womanly arts of cooking, making tea, sewing, or even cleaning. Ms. Gouvier paints a picture of Ei that is often tragic yet filled with wonder. Although Ei has freedom that many Japanese women never experienced during this time period, she remains tied to her father. She puts up with his verbal abuse and has her art demeaned and belittled. As her father ages and becomes either incapable or unwilling to paint, Ei takes over and continues his school and even paints many pictures that are ultimately attributed to Hokusai (some intentionally). Although Hokusai is the best-known print maker of his time, he and Ei lived in virtual poverty much of their lives. Ei's life seemed to come to an abrupt stop when Hokusai finally died. It isn't until she reunites with a former prostitute turned nun - Shino, that she learns to placate society and her family while continuing to do what she wants until her death.The Printmaker's Daughter is at times hauntingly beautiful in bringing the lives of Ei, Shino and Hokusai to life. There were also times the story seemed sluggish, as a result I found myself having to put the book down because my attention kept wavering as I tried to read. It wasn't until the latter portion of Ei's life is portrayed after Hokusai's death that the story truly became interesting for me. Don't get me wrong, The Printmaker's Daughter is a beautiful fictional account of Ei and Hokusai. This is a well-written and well-researched book with well-developed characters and settings. Sadly I found the research discussion at the end of the book more captivating than most of the fictional story.
BookishDame on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Printmaker's Daughter" is a book of considerable consternation. While the overall story of artists Hokusai and his daughter, Oei, is complex and absorbing, it falls short somehow in this translation to paper.As a subject of art history, theirs is a biographical tale that is fascinating. Finding out that an example of Oei's work is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts especially captured my attention! ( I'm making tracks to see it when I go home to visit my children and grands.) It's also interesting to note via Ms Govier's biographical notes at the end of the book, that an American collector purchased many of the prints and had them put in a museum; then, by his will decreed that they could never be loaned: "the collection had been in storage for 100 years."In this book, what seems to have happened in Ms Govier's elaboration in novel form is that she took the bones of the historical knowledge of Hukosai and Oei, and tried to reconstruct a story around those details. Often that's a good place to start; however, what resulted was a "term paperish" book that left out the essence of the people and the art you'd hope to find in a novel. What do I mean by this? The characters are relayed to us as they are in their art history biographies, but there is no furtherance of that outline into a sense of fleshed out characters. There are no real feelings engendered, no emotion truly felt and shown by way of the characterizations. None of the characters moved me at all. I felt a strict distance from them throughout this novel, despite the fact that there were several opportunities that could have been employed to enlist sympathy, empathy, and all sorts of identification in pain and love. There is a definite void of emotion in these very flat characters. It was as if I was getting a view of complete strangers and it stayed that way until the end with no insight into their real thoughts and feelings. Even the lovely and abused courtesan that Hokusai loved was left a blank slate of her true thoughts and agonies. And, what's more, I missed finer details of the landscape, temple convent and buildings! Extremely frustrating.Now, how can this be true in contrast? I liked the story as it played out, and I believe that those who love novels of this oriental flavor will enjoy it for that reason. I enjoyed the fantasy of how Oei may have looked and acted with the courtesans and her father, and how she may have become the great artist many think she actually was. But I had to skim (which is antithetical to my reading spirit!) through long parts to get to that liking. I had to give up a lot of what I wanted and expected.The book was too long and left too much out. That's a strange one... In terms of the descriptions of making art; painting on silk and printmaking in particular, we are completely left in the dark. I wanted to know the process, the artist's angst, the finding and connection with colors, the choices of engravers and printers and something about them, the type of paper used, etc. I wanted to know their reactions when the engraving didn't work out! There was so little about the artists' spirits and the compulsion to make art; what first inspired him and her. So much substance could have been included, but wasn't.I was disappointed with a novel that had such promise in facts available. This is a story that could have had such an impact today not only with regard to women in general, but also with regard to the recognition of women artists; and women artists in Japan, in particular. So much of the "red light district" of Koshiwara could have been described in exciting, lush detail; but wasn't. I was frustrated with that and with what was lost in the opportunity to capture my imagination with stories and better descriptions of the courtesans. They were shadow images...stick figures.This book, then, is a mixed bag. I couldn't stop reading it because I wanted to know about the artists and of their lives and culture. And,
GreatImaginations on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Going into reading this book I knew absolutely nothing about Katsushika Hokusai. To be honest, I didn't even know this was actually based on a true story. It's loosely based, but really only because there is not a lot of information out there about Hokusai's life, just his work. The author had to take certain liberties with the character's personalities, but for the most part, these were real people that once lived in a very difficult time. Katherine spent five years researching and writing this novel. Five years of interviewing, traveling to Japan, researching, visiting museums and colleges, talking to experts, scholars and anyone else that could possibly help write the story of this man and his mystery daughter, Oi. I knew nothing about any of this until I started reading. But then I fell in love with the story and wanted to know more (a lot more!), so I did some research of my own. I studied Hokusai and his work, I read up on him and the time that he lived, I learned as much as I could about the courtesans of the Yoshiwara and painting woodblock prints. All this was, and still is, new to me. But I was mesmerized. Enchanted, really. I could talk about this forever. And really, if you have ANY questions to ask me about this book, feel free, because I loved it. Adored it. I don't want to compare it to Memoirs of a Geisha, because the books cover two completely different topics, but it's hard not to for me, because Memoirs is at this point probably my favorite book. Ever. But I think The Printmaker's Daughter may surpass that for me. If not surpass, it is equal. I think this story was a bit more real in its authenticity. The voice of Oi felt extremely real to me. It was almost as if a Japanese girl was really telling the story. It felt extremely authentic. And Oi had personality. I didn't really feel that way about Memoirs. While I really loved the story, it was because of the characters that I was enchanted. But the protagonist, Sayuri, didn't have much of a personality. Not so with this book. And the settings felt so incredibly real. This was a book to get lost in. A book to take your time with. I just wanted to savor every word and let the story unfold slowly. And I did. It was magical. Parts of it were depressing, sure, because living in that time for women was not easy. It felt very oppressive for Oi. And also the courtesans. And it was. But through it all, Oi remained strong and steadfast. As impossible and selfish as her father was, she remained loyal and devoted to him until the day he died. Which by the way, was a very long time to live. He lived to the ripe old ancient age of 89. In 1849 when he died, living that long was extremely rare. Oi lived under his thumb, and fame, for his entire life. How oppressive. Finally, she is starting to gain recognition. People are actually trying to find out the truth. Which paintings of her father's was she actually responsible for? From what I have seen, she is a little more talented than he is. Her usage of colors is just outstanding. And in my opinion, you can clearly tell her work from his. In closing, this was a brilliant cultural read. I could write for endless hours about how epic I found this book to be. And I learned so much while reading. It was basically my ultimate reading experience. I love reading cultural fiction. Specifically about Asia, but as long as I am learning, I could care less. I will be following Katherine Govier's career. I think she is an amazing writer and this book deserves to be read by the masses. I am SO, so glad I read it. And of course I will be buying a copy for keeps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book very much. Well-researched, very informative. Learned much about Hokusai and will view his work in a new light.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Set in 19th century Japan, the Edo period, The Printmaker's Daughter is a fascinating rendering of life¿s hardships for Japanese women and artists in that era. Oei is the favourite daughter of her famous master painter artist father, Hokusai. Despite Hokusai¿s fame, his family was truly poor. Born to him late in life, she immediately enchanted him because of her aptitude for art and her vivid personality, unusual for Japanese women. When he leaves his family to pursue his art, he takes his favourite child with him. Despite the restrictions imposed on her, she served as a dutiful business partner to her father, keeping his accounts, helping his students, and even secretly completing some of his art projects. He struggled against strict government control and strong sentiments against artists. He took his daughter along with him in his travels, leaving her in the care of courtesans in the pleasure district so he could work. Oei struggles to find a balance between honing her talent as an artist and learning the womanly household arts expected of a young woman in such a strict culture. She also grapples with her allegiance to a father she equally resents is sometimes repulsed by ¿ a man truly selfish in his pursuits with poor appreciation for the Oei¿s own sacrifices. In this dual biographical historical novel about Oei and Hokusai¿s lives, readers will experience rich details of Japanese life. Told in first person narrative through Oei¿s point of view, this is a beautifully written and well-researched story. As with most biographical historical novels, I did find the pace slow at various points in the story. This is normal and to be expected; after all, true life is not always filled with constant turmoil and conflict. Therefore, readers should understand this and enjoy the story for what it is - an accurate portrayal of two struggling artists who left an indelible mark upon history, art, and culture in Japan. The novel describes a world far removed from that which we know in the West. Oei¿s story is one of dauntless courage to overcome cultural restrictions for women of the time. Through beautiful prose, the writer evokes emotion and I could not help becoming fascinated with this exotic story, especially when given glimpses into the brothel life and prostitution. The Printmaker's Daughter was published in Canada as The Ghost Brush.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
"The Printmaker's Daughter" is a book of considerable consternation. While the overall story of artists Hokusai and his daughter, Oei, is complex and interesting,it falls short in this translation to novel. In this book, what seems to have happened in Ms Govier's elaboration in novel form is that she took the bones of the historical knowledge of Hukosai and Oei, and tried to reconstruct a story around those details. Often that's a good place to start; however, what resulted was a "term paperish" book that left out the essence of the people and the art you'd hope to find in a novel. There are no real feelings engendered, no emotion truly felt and shown by way of the characterizations. None of the characters moved me at all. I felt a strict distance from them throughout this novel, despite the fact that there were several opportunities that could have been employed to enlist sympathy, empathy, and all sorts of identification in pain and love. There is a definite void of emotion in these very flat characters. It was as if I was getting a view of complete strangers and it stayed that way until the end with no insight into their real thoughts and feelings. Even the lovely and abused courtesan that Hokusai loved was left a blank slate of her true thoughts and agonies. And, what's more, I missed finer details of the landscape, temple convent and buildings. Now, how can this be true in contrast? I liked the story as it played out, and I believe that those who love novels of this oriental flavor will enjoy it for that reason. I enjoyed the fantasy of how Oei may have looked and acted with the courtesans and her father, and how she may have become the great artist many think she actually was. But I had to skim (which is antithetical to my reading spirit!) through long parts to get to that liking. I had to give up a lot of what I wanted and expected. In terms of the descriptions of making art; painting on silk and printmaking in particular, we are completely left in the dark. I wanted to know the process, the artist's angst, the finding and connection with colors, the choices of engravers and printers and something about them, the type of paper used, etc. I wanted to know their reactions when the engraving didn't work out! There was so little about the artists' spirits and the compulsion to make art; what first inspired him and her. So much substance could have been included, but wasn't. I was disappointed with a novel that had such promise in facts available, but couldn't put the heart around the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago