Memoirs of a Geisha

Posted by Divya at Thursday, June 23, 2011 3 comments Links to this post

I had watched snippets of the movie based on this book many years back. It had confounded me to no end, especially since I had watched in bits and pieces and drawing the story from my husband, only emerged a disgruntled “Oh something about high profile prostitutes” and that was that. So a couple of weeks back, I found an old copy of the book at my town’s library sale and decided to grab it, primarily to find out who a Geisha really is!

Let me start off my saying that this book is a clear formula of ‘rags-to-riches’ we have read in many novels; but, it is the setting of the story in a little known neighborhood and the effort to unfold the mystery of being a Geisha, that is its selling point.

The writing is in first person and enraptures the reader enough to burn the reading lamp through the night. The author makes no mistake in taking us to the streets of Gion, the Geisha district, buzzing with tea-house parties and matriarchal okiya houses that run the show; he does this with absolute panache, that mid way through the book, you are more than just a reader, but a spectator, smelling the smells, drinking the tea and watching that world unfold before our eyes.

In a haunting and wise tone Nitta Sayuri, narrates her life since she was a child and the reader sympathizes easily with her pain and suffering as the story begins. And just like her poetic references and lyricism laden descriptions, her childhood and everything she fought for vanishes as the story twists to offer her a whole new life and even a new name.

It is in fact fascinating to understand the life of Geishas, who are entertainers and work very hard to master music, dance and even indulge in witty conversations. The painstaking efforts they make to dress, makeup, learn to smile and appease, keep company to men; it is but ironic that all this eventually is to be taken as a mistress to someone worthy. Further confounding is the concept of the danna to whom she offers necessary sexual favors in return for financial independence.

While all these puzzling details of a Geisha’s life can throw a reader into misunderstanding and wondering the moral and ethical sides of the story, it is often forgotten in the way the tale takes many mellifluous turns and keeps one engaged on what comes next.

Unfortunately in all its glamorous setting, the book did let me down in a few places. Sayuri’s character takes a setback towards the end of the book, when she comes out as manipulative and deceiving as some Geisha’s are expected to be. It is not clear if the author lost all interest and was in a hurry to end the book. Further the story in the last few pages, tips over to being an absolute fairy tale and one can’t stop but wonder if the ending is all influential of Cinderella!

Other than these few points that catch the reader off guard, it is definitely a book for the keeps. If you haven’t already read the book, I would highly recommend it, even with its little flaws, it is a beautifully rendered novel and the seductive tone of Sayuri is absolutely alluring!

Reading Project

Posted by Divya at Friday, April 29, 2011 0 comments Links to this post
I can't believe that it has been a year since my last review. I have read books on and off, decided to revive the blog on and off and like a circle I have landed where I left off! Yes, I am on Harry Potter again and just to keep tandem with the final movie release this summer, I am going book 7 to book 1.

Parallely, I have decided to go on a book project, like pick up a clunker 1000+ page book and complete it like a task. Well I am hoping it will put me back into the review mode, for I haven't read a book interesting enough to review in recent times. So here are the two books (clunkers) I am going with for my project -

The Pillars of the earth - Ken Follett
(Was my 2009 birthday gift and I haven't flipped it yet!)
The infinite Jest - David Foster 
( which I heard requires a lot of dedication and time. I have borrowed the book and if I make progress beyond half the book, I am thinking of buying it.)

So there you go.. Thats my reading project this summer and I am hoping to post updates as I go!

Library loot and a comeback!

Posted by Divya at Wednesday, January 26, 2011 4 comments Links to this post
It has been ages since I have updated here. Lets just say, I had a lot going on in life that needed a whole lot of attention that I had to set the books aside for a bit. But I am back; I have been reading on and off, completed few books and didnt complete another few. But after the visit to a dear library yesterday, I think I have my mojo back and here is my library loot list --- 

the silence of splendor - Indu sundereshan
the weight of  heaven - thrity urmigar
The class - eric segal

What I have read in the past few months -
Maximum city - Suketu Mehta 
   This book literally made me laugh, cry and cringe for most of it. It was one of the most  truth-as-is books I have read in my life. I would recommend it to anyone from Bombay or anyone who wants to know about Bombay in its absolute realism.

Eat pray love - Liz ( that's how surreal she seems now )
   I finished this book as an audio book as I drove and did my running. May I say, its my second favorite to 'god of small things'. there was something so inspiring and free spirited about her flow of words and writing.. I was hooked. I am sure to read the book again and then a lengthy review, i Promise!

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
   My second fav Austen. S & S being the first. Was reading it for the umpteenth time and this time as an audio book again.. I am loving the whole audio book concept now. Lets me be with the words even when I am doing other things! You must give it a try. Makes exercising and cooking a lot of fun!

And a few more I never completed or got started.. So all that pending ones are going to a make my upcoming reviews and hopefully I am more regular.
Until the next review!

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