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Topic: Is anyone reading Laura Joh Rowland?

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Subject: Is anyone reading Laura Joh Rowland?
Date Posted: 10/2/2008 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 93
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I love mysteries set in other time periods and other cultures.  I am enjoying the ambience created by Rowlings in her series about a crime investigating  Samurai set in 17th century Edo,  Japan. There are aspects of the books that are, however, unsettling.  I would be curious to know other readers' reactions to her work. 

Date Posted: 10/6/2008 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 12,167
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Maija, I've really enjoyed this series.  I haven't read The Red Chrysanthemum or The Snow Empress yet, but I've been pleased with the others. 

What did you find unsettling?  I know that I have a problem with the way that women are treated in them and I have to keep reminding myself what period the books are set in. 

Subject: rowland
Date Posted: 10/7/2008 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 93
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Cindy, I guess it's the frequency and explicitness of the violent sex scenes. I don't restrict my reading to "cozy" mysteries at all - and I'm definitely not a prude.  But I just find the fixation on dragging these graphic sex scenes on for pages and pages to be a bit disturbing.  I love the plot lines and the characters and especially the historical setting but I'm getting turned off by the gratuitous sex.  Am I just being prissy? 

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
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I read the first few of those and really enjoyed them...maybe the first three or four? I don't remember the violent sex scenes at all...but it's been a few years. What put me off the series was the main character's constant feeling of "shame" for himself, even though he'd really done nothing wrong--it was the whole "Samurai code" thing and he was disgraced in the eyes of his family. Now, I realize that's the way it was, but I just felt like it pervaded Sano's whole life to such a degree that I didn't want to read about it anymore. There was just too much of the whole "woe is me" thing. I do mean at some point to go back to the series, though, because I thought it was very well-written and the period detail and such were excellent. Hopefully Sano comes into his own more further down the series.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 12,167
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Maija, I doubt that you're being prissy!  I think that was also part of the "male dominance" theme that bothered me, too.

And Cheryl, the "woe is me" thing bothered me as well, but I think that did improve as the series progressed. 

Date Posted: 10/8/2008 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2007
Posts: 180
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I bought  several of the books in this series years ago but never got to them.This discussion has sparked my interest again and inspired me to try them.

Subject: rowland
Date Posted: 10/8/2008 9:53 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 93
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Thanks for your insights.  Some years ago I organized a student exchange program between my university and one in Japan.  Did I ever tread a mine-field of cultural misunderstandings!  Although the organizers of the projects were women, we constantly had to defer to the Japanese men even though their official positions were inferior to ours.  I was both fascinated and infuriated by the (in my mind) preferential treatment of males. Honor and saving face was a huge issue for everyone. I had designed t-shirts for the particicpants, and there was much grumbling that everyone had the same shirt, students, faculty, men, women.  So even though I had thought I was aware of and tried to be sensitive to cultural differences, I fell into many traps.  That is why I enjoy this series so much, because Rowland really gets into the mind of the samurai,  the woman, and the evil  Yanagisawa and the indolent Tsunayoshi. I guess the vividness of her descriptions of life in medieval Edo are worth speedreading through the vividness of those sections of the book that disturb me. On to the next book!