La Dernière Princesse de Mandchourie (the last Princess of Manchuria) by Lilian Lee
La Dernière Princesse de Mandchourie by Lilian Lee is the novel that fictionalises the life of Kawashima Yoshiko. The name might be Japanese, but the princess was definitely Chinese. She is the fourteenth child from the Manchu Qing dynasty, also known as the last imperial dynasty of China. Sent to Japan when she was seven, Aisin Gioro Xianyu (her birth name) grows from a Manchurian princess to an abused teenager to a Japanese spy and later commander.
Known for her beauty, intelligence, sneakiness and espionage abilities, this princess underwent abuse before rising to spy and army commander. This well-written (or at least translated – I still don’t speak Chinese :'( !) book describes its plot so vividly I could at times taste the blood. A confidently seductive and sexually adventurous woman, assertive and capable fighter is truly badass but at times so undeniably cruel…
I, who is not a fan of violence, felt nauseated at some of the descriptions. Yet, I still felt amazed at how specific and realistic the writing was. The book can’t help but be inspiring and empowering. This abuse victim might not be a heroin in the traditional sense, but she harnesses her power (a little too much maybe?) to rise from the ashes of her former self.