'A persuasive storyteller and the setting is mesmerising' Antonia Senior, The Times
The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.
When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.
Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the mystery that surrounds the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .
It is completely absorbing, showing Lesley Downer's deep knowledge of Japan and her mastery of its complex history during the nineteenth century.
A persuasive storyteller and the setting is mesmerising.
Superb. A wonderful evocation of an alien world, with entrancing characters and a riveting narrative that fits perfectly with the historical facts.
Lesley Downer has pulled off a remarkable achievement in making the beautiful, strange and dangerous world of one woman in a 19th-century Japan facing Western invasion utterly believable, and utterly gripping.
Atsu is what we all want to be: a courageous woman of heartbreaking intelligence… set against our own darkest selves. This tale of western imperialism has so many resonances in the modern world, written with passion, depth and brilliance, and a sense of time and place that is earning Lesley Downer a reputation as the Shogun’s Writer for the twenty first century.