Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as they work on Hokusai’s countless paintings and prints. Wielding her brush, rejecting domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts, Oei defies all expectations of womanhood—all but one. A dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her place in history.
Vivid, daring, and unforgettable, The Printmaker’s Daughter shines fresh light on art, loyalty, and the tender and indelible bond between a father and daughter.
A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place in history in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimed author Katherine Govier. In the evocative tale of 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’s Daughter delivers an enthralling tale 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 will resonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s Snow Flower 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 captivating backdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, art and authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history. – Publishers Website
I was very enthralled with this book. A daughter who takes over her fathers painting when he gets too old to be able to do it. She has spent her whole life studying beside him, going from place to place in object poverty, providing himself and his family the little money he can make under Communist China. The threat of death, starvation, and shunning from the Government itself sits on their shoulders everyday while printing ‘approved’ books, and paintings; all the while painting ‘non-approved’ pieces for more money, but a much greater chance of being caught and their small livelihood obliterated with a jail sentence or worse. As the daughter grows up in this time, she meets a friend of her fathers; really a prostitute who will figure into her whole life – from being able to apply makeup, to other womanly secrets. They are linked for their lifetimes, in good times and bad. It was the sad story of a woman who is attempting to eek out an existence where it is heavily controlled by the Government. If they shun you, you are finished. Love for family, survival, relationships on the brink of collapse, poverty, and self-sufficiency all had me engrossed along with the gracefulness of the geisha’s in the brothels who hone their craft for decades until long past their expiry date.