Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

39
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Last Concubine
Format: Kindle EditionChange
Price:£4.35
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2009
This book was a spell-binding, engrossing and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I had previously read Lesley Downer's study into the life of Geisha and found her an engaging and accessible author. I'm not a real fan of novels, but knowing that Downer had written it and that she had a broad and in-depth knowledge of Japanese history made me pick it up. I am so glad I did! It is absolutely amazing, the characters are well formed, the storyline engrossing and the backdrop of 1860s Japan awe inspiring. I read the whole thing in a matter of days (barely sleeping because I NEEDED to know what happened next!)

Some of the 1 Star reviews here complain about historical inaccuracy, but obviously these people did not read the book all the way through. Downer writes in the afterword that, while most of the setting is historically accurate, some has been stretched to fit into her story. And she explains which bits have been! She also lists a bibliography at the end for us to do our own further reading.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2009
Lesley Downer is that rare thing, an expert with a gift for sharing her encyclopaedic knowledge entertainingly. She writes with a sure, light touch - and she brings nineteenth-century Japan to life. The account of travelling on foot through the mountains to Tokyo in the last days of the Shogunate is atmospheric and masterly, as are the descriptions of customs, clothes, food, fads and even scents in the Japan of the period. The author takes the reader into a vanished world at the heart of which is a love story where destinies are decided on the strength of a look or a fleeting touch. The plot includes the obligatory foreigner - but it is a measure of Downer's success that she doesn't really need her enterprising British diplomat as an entrée to the world she describes: she has already made the reader completely at home. The Last Concubine can be thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in Japan or an appetite for stories of adventure and romance. Like one of the previous reviewers I very much look forward to the movie.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2012
When I picked it up I said to myself, this is the way to get into Cio Cio San's dreams. I figured that Lesley Downer has spent so much time studying and thinking about Japan of that time, she would likely be able to get inside the skin of the characters. -- Indeed! All true. -- At first I said to myself oh, this is like a sword-and-sorcerers novel. This is not a medieval world, this is ancient. And that sense continued, with all the travel, geography, weather, at times nearly like a Lord of the Rings journey. Then there I was in the palace and I was afraid I would be confined there forever, dealing with endless details of protocol and refinement -- but the martial arts! Wow. And then, thank goodness, saved from all that and cast out into the great unknown again for more adventure. I really loved it. I know it is classified as a romance novel for me it is an adventure novel. With wisdom about the political and 'sociological' situation of the time. (The scenes of carnage after the European weapons entered the scenes reminded me of descriptions of the American Civil War, which was of course about that same time. The gore. The destruction. The change of a world. -- And because she managed to convey the sense of excitement about hand-to-hand combat, by the time the other butchery began, I could feel the difference viscerally.)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2014
A very engrossing novel. Set in 1860s Japan during the time of the Meiji Restoration and the years leading up to it.
Sachi grows up in a mountain village rural Japan. Her pale skin and fine features have always set her apart and made her feel different. At the age of eleven, the procession of the Imperial Princess sweeps up her up from her home to the woman's palace at the Imperial capital of Edo, where she is before too long, chosen as the concubine of the young Shogun after he sees and her and is smitten
Deadly female rivalries from people as diverse as Fuyu who was her contemporary when she joined the palace and the powerful mother of the Shogun, the retired one make for distress and danger. But after the death of the young Shogun from what is billed consumption but is certainly poisoning, civil war caused by rebellion by guerrillas from the south and the destruction of the palace at Edo force her to flee the palace, find love with a dashing Samurai, return for a short while to her native village, and discover her true parentage
Many brushes with death at the hands of the southern rebels , bandits and other desperadoes , which she survives in part due to her own skill she develops as a Samurai and a close company of heroes including her close friend the loyal and aristocratic born Taki. The sights , sounds, feeling and smells of the Japan of the time are brought to life from the cherry blossoms of the palace gardens to the stinking rank breath of a degenerate old bandit that tries to rape her unaware of her skill with a knife.
The author uses her knowledge of the Japan of the time to create a romance and adventure, and her love and understanding of Japan shines throughout. I love books with strong and beautiful female leads and really could get under the skin of Sachi and root for her. Highly recommended especially if you like books like Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, A must for all Japanophiles
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2013
I started reading The Last Concubine and couldn't put it down until I finished it. Aside from the easy enjoyment of Lesley Downer's page-turner tale, it was a bonus to be given such a strong sense of the period and its history by someone who is an expert in the field, quite aside from the fiction she writes.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2008
The historical setting of the novel is fairly faithfully described, but the author fails to bring it to life. The picture we are given of the samurai lifestyle is somewhat flat. Duty to the liege lord may well have been the defining feature of life in the samurai era, but rather than demonstrating this through characterization, Downer repeats it to the reader till it becomes little more than a platitude. This sense of duty is then contrasted with the wonderful freedom introduced to Japan as a result of Western influence at the end of the book. This overly simplistic contrast of values is really not much more than a ruse so that the love story on which the novel centres can run its course.

The novel is an enjoyable enough read and has some interesting historical detail at times, but has a few too many implausible coincidences and small inconsistencies in the plot to ever really become a page-turner. It can also be a bit trite - a number of times the two lovers are in situations where they are so close `she could feel the heat of his skin'.... I don't mean to be overly critical, as I did enjoy the story, but it was a little too Mills and Boonish for me.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 July 2013
I feel so-so about The Last Concubine. It was alright, but it just didn't grab me. It's competently written, but it seemed to lack flair or any real imagination. It was only sporadically evocative, and I didn't get any sense of atmosphere or ambience to draw me into the historical setting.

The plot was well-constructed, and it wasn't predictable at least, but it wasn't amazing or awe-inspiring or gripping. The same thing for the characters. They were... there. I didn't dislike them, but I don't feel like I rooted for any of them. Even Sachi, the main character, came off as rather one-note and like I was barely scratching the surface of her personality. That made it hard to connect with the characters or get involved in the plot.

I wouldn't call this a bad read, by any means, and I did find it mildly enjoyable, but I felt disconnected and couldn't get into the world of the story or empathise with the characters.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2012
I loved this book! Being a fan of historical fiction and of asian-inspired books I was keen to read this. A great storyline (with some truths in the dates/uprisings etc.) flowing through the book, which kept me eagerly reading on! The descriptions given are full of detail, enabling the reader to easily imagine the beauty and intricacy of the buildings, kimonos, scenery etc. Overall a very worthy read, able to transport you back to the beauty and tradition of 19th century Japan which I found truly fascinating to read and learn about- well recommended!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2011
I loved this book and got no work at home done until I finished it. Nice to know a lot of the characters were actual people. I have a great interest in the oriental countries Japan especially. I got totally transported back in time to the end of the Shogun rule , tradition , forbidden love and having visited some of these places I could just picture it. Someone make it to a film PLEASE. One of my favorite reads, along side Memoirs of a Geisha and yep I know they are kids books but... the young Samurai books
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2012
Lesley Downer is a fantastic writer. She takes you away to this amazing place where you get lost in forbidden love, where the word "love" doesn't really exist. This was the first of all her books i read. I instantly fell in love with Sachi (the last concubine). You get to watch her grow from this young girl to a young woman, with all the different obstacles that face her.
Japan was a world in itself at the time of the Shogun. This gives us a glimpse of that world.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.