Friday, August 17, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden

The setting is Gion, a geisha district in Japan, in the 1930s. It’s story of Chiyo, the daughter of a poor fisherman. Due to the impending death of her mother, Chiyo is sold to an okiya, a house for geisha and her sister is sold to a house of prostitution. Hatsumomo, the only geisha presently active in the okiya, sees that Chiyo is attractive with unusual gray eyes and may someday be competition. Hatsumomo does everything within her power to sabotage Chiyo’s chances of becoming a geisha. She remains a maid until she is taken under the wing of a very successful geisha by the name of Mameha. Through Mameha’s careful plotting, she does become the geisha Sayuri. The story follows her rise to becoming a successful geisha, her search for love and the effects WWII has on her world.What I liked about this book was not so much the story line, but the way it sucked me into Chiyo’s world. I felt like I could see the streets of Gion. I felt like I could hear the rustle of silk as the geisha rushed from one tea house to another. It can be a bit slow at times, but overall, a truly lovely read.

The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas

This is the tale of the sailor Edmond Dantes, who, when right on the brink of becoming the captain of a ship and about to marry a woman with whom he is madly in love with, has the bad luck to betrayed by multiple individuals and thrown in jail. He then has worse luck and is sent to the uber scary Chateau d’if, a giant fortress-of-doom type prison. There he meets a fellow prisoner who teaches him all about math, physics, history and the existence of a giant treasure. After the death of his teacher and a dramatic escape, he seeks out the big beyond belief treasure and learns that one of his betrayers has married the love of his life, his father is dead and everyone believes him to be dead. Dantes, using his new found vast wealth, creates a new identity as a count and goes about wreaking havoc in the lives of all those who betrayed him.
I found this book to be a surprisingly fast read. My only stumbling point was when I was introduced to rather large cast of characters when Dantes reenters society as the count. I had to flip back and forth a little to figure out who was married to whom and who was whose kid and where everyone’s place was in society. After I figured that out, the story sped back up again. I truly enjoyed this tale of revenge and occasionally caught myself giggling manically. I was left a little lukewarm by the ending, but the journey was an absolute hoot.