Book Review: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Life As She Sees It: Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha

Arthur Golden’s debut novel is a fictional account of a geisha’s life. It narrates the story of Chiyo, who, as a child, was sold into slavery together with her sister. Chiyo eventually becomes Sayuri, as she is taken in and trained to become a geisha, while her sister is taken into a whorehouse and becomes separated from her sister permanently. I read this many years ago, and Golden’s skillful display of his exceptional knowledge in geisha culture and lifestyle woven with his main protagonist’s own voice narrating the accounts of her personal life cemented this book on my favorites’ list. The smooth prose adds depth to the rich narration and the poignant life story of Sayuri. The bittersweet memories of her life and the gripping prose style with which Golden wrote the novel combine into one absorbing and elegant must-read. If you have seen the movie, then there is all the more reason to peruse the book, in order for you to realize just how much the film failed to give justice to the novel’s beauty. Sayuri’s rivalry with Hatsumomo and her love affair with the hairman are just some of the delectable highlights of the novel, which is rich with facts about Japanese culture and art. The history and culture of a geisha in Sayuri’s time provides a rich social landscape apart from Sayuri’s personal story, so that when you read the book, not only do you witness the ups and downs of Sayuri’s life, but also a slice of Japanese history, and the culture that makes it worthy of remembrance.

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Book Review: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

More Than Eleven Minutes of Sense and Sensuality

The novel is far from the contemplative atmosphere of By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and the bestseller The Alchemist, but the beauty of the book is derived from the strong yet tender, and poignant life of Maria, who was tricked into leaving her hometown in Brazil to become a prostitute in Switzerland. The book borders on the erotic, what with Maria’s love for masochism, and the hints of pessimism as Maria’s life as a prostitute unfolds. Like all the other literary works of Paulo Coelho, this book tackles another road to self-discovery– sexuality. However, the book delves on the matter of sex in the context of love, which makes this book different from the soft porn usually found in romance novels. The idea of sacred sex is treated with renewed freshness. The sensual subject matter of the book, and the way Coelho dealt with this sensuality through his writing style, even give Maria’s story a peculiar charm that entices you to keep on reading until the end. Maria’s life as a disillusioned prostitute takes a wild turn when she meets a painter whom she falls in love with. Upon meeting him, her life has inevitably changed from one that is headed towards self-destruction to a life that hopes for a bright future. Towards the end of the story, she is compelled to choose between the life in Brazil she has always dreamed of returning to, or to a new and yet-unknown life that she could have with the person she undeniably loves. If you are a fan of Coelho, then this book demands to be read. It veers away from the writer’s usual overly optimistic book-forms of Hallmark cards. The dark subject matter and the different approach that Coelho takes on this novel are two main things that make this book a definite must-have for bookworms who want an alternative from all the chick literature or the heavy readings.

The novel is far from the contemplative atmosphere of By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and the bestseller The Alchemist, but the beauty of the book is derived from the strong yet tender, and poignant life of Maria, who was tricked into leaving her hometown in

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Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

A Horror and Mystery Novel Rolled into One

This novel is mainly for those bookworms who are allured by the enticing richness of reading histories. What makes this book unique is it actually gives an account of how the Dracula evolved into how it is seen today. The historical fiction narrates the beginning of ruthless Vlad the Impaler, who impaled hundreds of people during his reign in Wallachia, and down to how Bram Stoker romanticized the image of the vampire for commercial appeal. On top of all these interesting little stories is one main plot of cat-and-mouse as Paul and Helen travel from Istanbul to Budapest as they try to solve the mystery of the old, vellum-bound book with a dragon carved at the cover’s center. Personally, I loved the interesting mix of history and adventure in the novel. There were moments when I would get all hyped because of the thinking that the letters and the riddles evoke. On the other hand, seeing the other side of the concept of the Dracula is a refreshing alternative from all the sensationalized appeal it got from Hollywood movies. The constant flight from one place to another while the protagonists deal with the elusive traces of Dracula is set against an atmosphere of eerie mystique, giving the plot just the right amount of ghostly spooks. The culmination and resolution of the plot at the end is one of suspense because apart from the truth, it is then that Paul and Helen finally discover what they have long been searching for. This book needs a lot of attention, so this is the perfect companion during a long flight or when you are stuck at home. But for those of you who want to see the other side of Dracula or to simply experience one hell of a ride, then The Historian beats all other lengthy reads!

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