Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

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Sometimes you find a book that is more like meeting a person and developing a friendship than just picking up another paperback. Memoirs of a Geisha was precisely this for me, and I feel quite upset – like I’ll never find another book that is quite as enchanting as this one.

I’m almost embarrassed about how long it took me to pick it up. I had bought it with a bunch of other second hand books, but wasn’t in the mood for having to try and understand a foreign culture, so I kept putting it off. But that is part of the magic of this novel, that Arthur Golden (a white, western, male academic) can take the hand of his reader and immerse them so utterly and completely in Japanese culture­­ ­– and especially into the life and times of a rural Japanese woman in the early 19th century.

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The story is exquisitely crafted and the language is rich. It is impossible not to feel that the lead character Sayuri Nitta, is not real, and not really sitting across from you with a cup of green tea, recalling her life as a Geisha in Kyoto. This book has moved me so much, that it immediately jumped into my top ten list (similar books in that list include Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind and Lord of the Rings, if that testifies to the richness of this tale and the fact that it is definitely a modern classic).

I cannot recommend it strongly enough, regardless of whether you’re into Asian culture or not (disclaimer: I wasn’t interested in Asian culture until I read this book). If I was you, I would consider getting hold of a good bottle of sake (Japanese rice wine­ – so it’s still applicable to this blog) and enjoying this magnificent story. If sake is not your thing, why not try the impeccable Hillcrest Estate Merlot, with berry flavours and a feminine finish, it is the perfect accompaniment to this tale.

 

“In real life there are only monsters”

**Disclaimer: I don’t watch the television series version of Game of Thrones, so all comments pertain to the first book in the series of five.

Why doesn't George RR Martin use twitter? Coz he already killed all 140 characters

Why doesn’t George RR Martin use twitter? Coz he already killed all 140 characters

Phew, I’ve finally done it! I finished the first book in George RR Martin’s epic series, Game of Thrones. Since the tv series launched to huge success, Game of Thrones has become a household word, and hundreds of Game of Thrones memes appear daily, the characters have even been on the Simpsons!

It took  me a month to read (its really thick, don’t judge me) and I probably won’t bother reading the other four, it was just too exhausting.

I guess my fomo regarding the TV series prompted me to tackle the books, and I think if I was still in school with long weeks of holiday before me I would probably read them all, but to be honest, I hate that it took me so long to read the first one, and I don’t think I care enough about the characters to find out what happens next.

Martin does an amazing job of creating a rich internal world for each character, and I find it fascinating how a crusty old man can get into the head of a mother of four or girl of eleven, though it does become repetitive after a while.

What upsets me most about the story is that all the good people die or have really bad things happen to them, while the evil characters thrive and get more power. Everybody dies. I know that I am a Disney-princess sort of girl, so maybe Martin’s take is a more accurate reflection of reality, but I prefer stories where goodness, honour and bravery get rewarded rather than punished. I think if Tony Stark had been included in the Stark family tree, the story would have been over on page 300.

All in all it was a good read, but as I have emphasised, somewhat exhausting. Tackle it if you love the tv series, but from what I’ve heard its an accurate reflection of the books, except for the pornography, which is far less apparent in the books.

Over the month I paired this with a few wines, but I found a spicy-rich red (like the Dieu Donne pictured below) goes best, because, after all, Winter is coming.

 

Winter is coming, make sure you have a good red to see you through

Winter is coming, make sure you have a good red to see you through

<p>Article by Aimee McDonald</p>

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Beauty and the beast

Charlotte Bronte's feminine hero has long haunted my literary journey

Charlotte Bronte’s feminine hero has long haunted my literary journey

The rain blankets my sleepy town, and all the trees have their red-and-yellow autumn coats on. Droplets hit the window panes like a million little diamonds and my mind turns to one of the two feminist heroines that have haunted my life-long literary journey.

Her name is Jane, and she is a plain-looking orphan that steals the heart and restores the soul of a broken man named Rochester.

By now you know the beauty-and-the-beast tale of which I speak, none other than Charlotte Bronte’s greatest work, the gothic novel Jane Eyre.

I love this story, and the onset of winter makes me crave it more because of its gloomy English setting. It is one of three books that I try and read annually, just because it had such an impact on me. My mom bought me a beautiful vintage copy for my 20th birthday, its all in red, with a key dangling enticingly on the cover.

If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s in a league far above the dreary monotone of a Jane Austen novel.

Best paired with something rich and creamy, you might like a red (because of the weather) in which case I would suggest the Guardian Peak Merlot. For a white wine, I would go with the Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc.