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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A womans powerful journey to revenge
Kozaisho has the ill fortune to be the fifth daughter in an impoverished Japanese family. Sold to a wealthier man. She is soon sold again to become a prostitute. However Kozaisho is not going to be beaten down by his miserable circumstances.

She manages through skill and he honesty to train as a samurai, and escapers her sexual bondage to wage war against her...
Published on 9 Aug. 2012 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I really wanted to like this book. I am quite fond of books about ancient Japan and its feudal ways. I have also read Tales of the Genji and other Japanese texts, so I am conversant with the time and the style of writing. I found this book quite disappointing in comparison with other things I have read. I found the story profoundly depressing for a start, and with little...
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A womans powerful journey to revenge, 9 Aug. 2012
By 
Amazon Customer "Fiona" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Kozaisho has the ill fortune to be the fifth daughter in an impoverished Japanese family. Sold to a wealthier man. She is soon sold again to become a prostitute. However Kozaisho is not going to be beaten down by his miserable circumstances.

She manages through skill and he honesty to train as a samurai, and escapers her sexual bondage to wage war against her circumstances. She becomes a feared warrior and captures the heart of a feared and honoured war lord.

I was not sure about the book, I feared that the author Barbara Lazar may simply be rehashing the Shogun book. I was wrong. This book is a cracker. I read it in two nights and loved every word. The end left me rather emotional but overall I found the book to be uplifting. There is something deeply empowering about a strong woman bucking the odds and taking charge of her own destiny. All the more amazing when you consider the s nature of the times, a deeply divided country with woman considered to be less important than livestock.

The author clearly is a huge fan of the era, the authenticity of the narrative speaks to her love and her research. I was immersed in ancient Japan and loved every minute of it.

A culture which is so different to ours and yet there are threads which bind us together. This woman was not going to let her poverty grind her down. I must admit that the process of selling unwanted children, usually girls, for land or oxen, was shocking.
She uses her position as a prostitute to try and change the nature of her clients, she cleverly spins tales to illustrates her point and they begin to work.

Her changes come to the notice of the local war lord who is intrigued to meet his prostitute with a strong moral centre. Interwoven is a desire to revenge the murder of her best friend and soul mate.

A cracking read. I hope that Lazar does not make this her only title. That would be a shame.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Evocation of Twelfth Century Japan and (apocryphal?) female Samurai, 8 Jun. 2013
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a brilliant novel. I may have been predisposed to liking it - I am fascinated by the world of the samurai of mediaeval Japan, by martial prowess, by the concept of honour and a code that demands ritual suicide as a badge of honour and obedience. I am also, I have to admit, intrigued by Japanese sexual mores; at the same time in history when 5% of the female population of Europe were living in nunneries, the author, Barbara Lazar tells us in her historical notes at the end, polygamy was rife, fidelity important but divorce common, and adult virgins were considered suspicious! The idea that a peasant girl, a "fifth daughter", sold by her father for an additional field and forced into a life of prostitution might rise to be the wife of a leading protagonist in the major civil war of C12 Japan, and moreover that she might train hard enough in the martial arts of the age (sword and bow rather than open hand) might seem preposterous. There is, however, some evidence of women training in the same way as samurai and even taking to the field of battle - indeed there is a historical figure on the other side of this conflict, the civil war between Taira and Minamoto clans.

I don't know enough about 12th century Japan to be able to pick holes in the historical details, if there are any, but this novel seemed firmly grounded in both the historic and technical details and the culture and ethos of the age. I was particularly interested in the way that the novel weaves Buddhist philosophy into characters' motivations - the samurai were probably the most violent of that avowedly pacific religion. The characters were credible, and the narrative was certainly quick enough for a book of 450 pages. Whether our heroine, Kozaisho, is exactly a female role model I will leave to others, but she is certainly a strong woman who does the right thing and both reaps the benefits and suffers the consequences throughout.

Very highly recommended, whether you like military historical fiction or chick lit! I do hope that Ms Lazar is working on another novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Mar. 2014
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I really wanted to like this book. I am quite fond of books about ancient Japan and its feudal ways. I have also read Tales of the Genji and other Japanese texts, so I am conversant with the time and the style of writing. I found this book quite disappointing in comparison with other things I have read. I found the story profoundly depressing for a start, and with little of the beauty of the prose that such a book would have had if it had been a 'real' historical work. I also found it quite hard to figure out what was going on at times. It was fairly hard to keep track of all the convoluted plot twists and after a while I found the character of Kozaishu so unsympathetic I really didn't care what happened to her.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai, 6 Jun. 2012
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Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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Sadly I have to agree with the other review currently on here and say that this book was disappointing. It started off well and the premise of a `woman-for-play' also being a Samurai was enough to intrigue me and drive the story on in the first half of the book. Sadly it didn't live up to this expectation and fizzled out and finished with a rather limp and lack lustre conclusion that almost felt as if the author got bored and wrapped it up as quick as she could. The grand ending it was building towards was nowhere near as satisfying as I was hoping.

I was reading a proof copy and so forgave the numerous and frustrating typos and spelling mistakes, but it was harder to forgive some of the more glaring writing and storyline errors. Things like saying a samurai gripped and settled into his saddle and then following this by saying he turned and mounted his horse and rode away. There were other things along these lines and whilst they are small errors, it jolts you out of the book and ruins the flow.

I have read vast amounts of books about Japan (as my reviews will show) and I have no doubt her research was meticulously carried out, but it also meant I was expecting more from this which sadly didn't deliver. No amount of research will save average writing style. Don't get me wrong, it managed to keep me reading and engaged well enough, but the style was rather flat in places and then overly lyrical in others.

This is also interspersed with numerous poems and whilst I understand these are a key part of a pillow book, here they managed to quickly frustrate and break up the flow of the book. It may have been easier if some of the poems were better written. Some were pithy, enigmatic and beautiful and these only showed up the flaws in some of the more blank and obvious ones that littered the pages towards the end of the book.

Helpfully there was a glossary to explain some of the Japanese terms used, although annoyingly by no means all of them. It also has a brief historical explanation of the time and place, as well as family trees of the clans written about. This is a based on historical events and the author has tried to honour the period she writes about.

All in all this is an average book that could've delivered so much more. If you love Japan, like myself, then maybe there is enough here to maintain your interest, but as a novel and story in its own right you may feel it is somewhat lacking.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great basis for a story, but a bit impenetrable, 12 Nov. 2012
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The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai is a story about a young peasant girl, set in 12th century Japan, and based (I'm not sure how closely) on some genuine archaeological remains of a girl's diary from the time. It follows the life of Kozaisho, in a period where her clan, the Taira, where overwhelmed and defeated by a rival clan, the Minamoto.

It was particularly rewarding to read this book whilst I'm in Japan myself (in fact in and around the area of Japan where the book is set - modern-day Kyoto and Kobe). Perhaps because of this connection, I felt that Lazar has the material for a wonderful story - exciting, evocative and laced with interesting historical detail.

It was all the more frustrating, therefore, to find Lazar's writing becoming increasingly impenetrable to me as the book on. I don't know if this was a failing on my part or the author's, but I struggled to keep up with what was happening or who was fighting who, meaning that the climax of the story, when it did come, was unfulfilling and seemed to come out of nowhere.

As I say, it could be just that I didn't read carefully enough to appreciate the author's use of language, or it may be that the author was being faithful to the style of writing found in the diaries themselves. I'd be interested to hear what others thought. But whatever the reason, the end result was that this book was a bit of a disappointment, despite having a fascinating back story.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A strangely empty 12th-century rehash of Memoirs of a Geisha, 1 May 2015
This review is from: The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai (Paperback)
A feisty but innocent Japanese girl is plucked from the bosom of her simple rural family to become the plaything of rich and powerful members of a high society beyond her ken, where even her fellow victims cannot be relied upon. And so begins the marvellous page-turner Memoirs of a Geisha. Oh, and so does Barbara Lazar's weirdly thin The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai.

To be fair to Lazar, the story template is fairly universal and her narrative does differ from Arthur Golden's. Alas, so does the quality. Beyond the opening scenes, where fifth daughter Kozaisho's place in her rustic family is nicely pinpointed, one gets very little sense of the 12th-century Japan setting. Lazar suggests that the upper classes are full of backbiting social gossips, for example, but never do we see even a glimpse of it. All the characters are uniformly paper thin, and there is a love interest so ridiculously noble, even 18th-century romantic novelists would deem him unrealistic.

Perhaps I'm doing Lazar a discredit, and this is merely an accurate recreation of the navel-gazing writing style of 12th-century Japan. The Tale of Genji is sitting on my bookshelf, and I'll know better once I've read it. However, to a modern reader, this makes for a flat, thin and colourless read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like a long growing sumer, 1 Dec. 2013
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This book, an amazing debut novel by Babara Lazar, will undoubtedly be compared to other novels that have plundered the culture of Ancient Japan with its formalities and licentiousness, its vast spectacle and its erotic and intimate details.

I would rather review it as a classic Story, one of the most ancient genres in all literature ~ The Journey. A life to be followed with its signposts, its omens ,its anticipations, disappointments and redemptive qualities. Including insightful tiny verses that act almost like sleeping policemen in the text to bring you up sharply out of the page in order to meditate a while;

Samurai teacher
Holder of my Lord's honour
You show me honour
From your patient discipline to
Your denial of desire

They are textual punctuations that may make you pause and not gobble up the next chapters with their embroidered threads and sumptuous language.

Barbara Lazar's embroidered quilt is really as much an adventure into another space and tie as it is a novel of wide historical research and like all good novelists she invites you to discover more without revealing too much the obviousness of her own sources.

This will satisfy a great number of hungry readers
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well, but loses momentum, 29 Jan. 2014
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Amazon Customer (UK) - See all my reviews
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Really great premise for a novel, and I deeply admire anyone who can put so much effort into the historical research and still balance accuracy with the creative unfolding of the story. Unfortunately, as the story progressed, I found it more and more difficult to maintain the threads - I don't know if this is due to the complexity of the story, or the writing style, but it did become more of a slog the further I read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history alive, 17 April 2014
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margesimpson "wifi" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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this is a very good read if you are interested in fiction set in historical fact, i wouldnt know if any were wrong however,this is a heart warming tale where you really root for the main charachter and want all good thing s to come to her as she deserve
save the girl read the book
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3.0 out of 5 stars I should have loved it but it became a slog :(, 14 Jun. 2013
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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Kozaisho has the misfortune to be born as the fifth daughter of an impoverished Japanese family who is sold into prostitution. The novel follows the story of how she progresses from such an unfortunate circumstance, gradually rising through the hierarchy by virtue of her good looks and ability to tell stories.

I don't know enough about Japanese history to be able to comment on how accurate (or not) this story might be, but I was looking forward to reading it very much and really felt that it failed to deliver. This should have been a great and involving adventure but for huge chunks of the book I felt bogged down by the dense nature of the writing.

Such a shame.
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The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar (Paperback - 17 Jan. 2013)
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