How do you fall in love when your society has no word for it? The Last Concubine is an epic love story closely based on historical events, chronicling 19th century Japans extraordinary change from a medieval to a modern country. This is the story of a shogun, a princess and the three thousand women of the womens palace - all of whom really existed - and of the civil war that brought their way of life to an end ...Japan, 1865: the womens palace in the great city of Edo is a sprawling complex much like a middle-eastern harem. Bristling with intrigue and erotic rivalries, the palace is home to three thousand women and only one man - the young shogun. Sachi, a beautiful fifteen-year-old girl, is chosen as his concubine.But Japan is changing. Black Ships have arrived from the West, bringing foreigners eager to add Japan to their colonial empires. As civil war erupts, Sachi flees for her life. Rescued by a rebel warrior, she finds unknown feelings stirring within her; but this is a world in which private passions have no place and there is not even a word for love. Before she dare dream of a life with him, Sachi must unravel the mystery of her own origins a mystery that encompasses a wrong so terrible that it threatens to destroy her ....From the timeless beauty of the Womens Palace in Edo to bloody battles fought outside its walls, The Last Concubine is an epic evocation of a country in revolution, and of a young womans quest to find out who she really is.
Lesley Downers mother was Chinese and her father a professor of Chinese, so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. But it was Japan, not China, that proved the more alluring.She lived there for some fifteen years. It has been an ongoing love affair.She has written many books about the country and its culture, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World, and Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West, and has presented television programmes on Japan for Channel 4, and the BBC .The Last Concubine is her first novel.