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Summary

A thriller and love story set in 10th-century Japan. 

Lady Shonagon is an imperial courtesan, living at the court of the Japanese Emperor in the 10th century. When a series of disturbing thefts within the palace walls throws the court into confusion and unrest, Shonagon is appointed guide and assistant to Lieutenant Yukinari as he investigates. 

Together, Shonagon and Yukinari must solve the mysteries and escalating crimes that plague the Japanese court, and their romance blossoms in the tightly enclosed world behind the high palace walls. But soon Shonagon's lover Tadanobu becomes uncomfortable with how closely they are working together....

The Pillow Book is inspired by the writings of Sei Shonagon, a poet and lady-in-waiting to the empress of the 10th-century Japanese court. The work of the real-life Sei Shonagon consists of essays, lists, anecdotes, poems, and descriptive passages about her daily life. 

This full-cast drama stars Ruth Gemmell as Sei Shonagon, with Yukinari played by Mark Bazeley in series 1-3 and Cal Macaninch in series 4-11. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Tadanobu in series 1. 

Directed by Lu Kemp.

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

True Sei Shonagon‘s Diary from 10th Century Japan

A finely produced well acted drama from the diary of Sei Shonagon a Lady in Waiting at Court in 10th Century Japan. Over eleven hours of entertainment. Well out of my usual comfort zone but still interesting, Everything is here; corruption, love, jealousy,murder & social injustice, truth, lies, and mind games. A journey about life, strength of mind, thought and belief set in the claustraphobic world of the Heian culture a thousand years ago in 965. A lot to get ones teeth into, mind working and exercised. Not for everyone and not something for relaxing. Different. I am now reading Sei Shanogans diary “The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon”. Fascinating being able to read the thoughts of and life experience seen through the eyes of a woman who lived a thousand years ago.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Atmospheric

Loved it in short sessions. Very atmospheric and almost mesmerising. The voices are perfect and I particularly like lady Shonigon's lists.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

starts well enough...

but becomes increasingly tedious fading to nothing. listen to the first half and then stop

0 of 1 people found this review helpful