This book is a worthwhile read I would say for just about anyone. Arthur Golden's style flows so well and is so engaging and clear that even if you kn...moreThis book is a worthwhile read I would say for just about anyone. Arthur Golden's style flows so well and is so engaging and clear that even if you know virtually nothing about Japan, WWII, or geisha you'll be able to understand and enjoy this book. Sayuri is a character that remains with you, that you can never quite get enough of.(less)
Edit: Read this for the first time in June...and then again after I wrote my review in August.
Edit #2: Just read this again. It's the beginning of Nov...moreEdit: Read this for the first time in June...and then again after I wrote my review in August.
Edit #2: Just read this again. It's the beginning of November. Appears every 2 months = reread... Every time, I see these HUGE flaws, and every time I just don't give a teeny, tiny fuck.
*This review turned out super short. There are things I thought I wanted to say, warnings I wanted to give, but nope. This is it. If you like Jane Austen, romance, or butterflies-in-stomach, pick this up.*
I think it should be standard practice that, when one finishes reading all of Jane Austen's works, someone presses a copy of an Abigail Reynolds book into their hands. Or at least when one finishes P&P... She does one of my favorite things, which is to take a "what if" moment and expand it, to follow the ripple and see what would happen, what would change and what stay the same. This is something I do as a reader - and as an insomniac, telling myself stories in my head at night - and I think it's probably what a lot of writers of fanfiction do - but Reynolds does it so well.
Mostly I think this is because Reynolds understands the characters so well. Even the changes - even when I'm questioning a character and whether they actually would say or do a certain thing, I still find myself thinking, Well, maybe, given this particular 'what-if'... I almost always buy it. But even when I don't- even when I think they've stepped a little too far out of character - I still eat it up. Abigail Reynolds gives me FEELS. Last year, I read and reviewed What Would Darcy Do? which made me really very eager to read the other Reynolds book I had sitting on my shelves (ie this one); this one made me really very eager to get my hands on everything Reynolds has written: once might be a fluke, but twice is a pattern.
Now, lest I seem fangirly, this is not an unreserved thumbs up. I did feel like Darcy and Lizzie stepped further and further out of character as the book went on. But the thing was, I didn't give a damn. There were some things that, in another book, in another author's hands, would have really bothered me. Maybe even made me put it down. But I couldn't. I could not stop reading this, much to the detriment of everyone who had to work with/speak to/look at me the next day... (Customer service, what?!) This was so much more angsty and tortured and maudlin than anything I would have expected or wanted for my D&L, and I loved every minute of it. It had its fair share of faults, and I ignored every one of them. I felt foolish and giddy and utterly like a silly girl, but man, my butterflies had butterflies. Abigail Reynolds is a witch. A wizard. A sorceress. Something.
I can't even take it. Gah! I kinda wanna read this book again.
[Oh, and further proof of what Abigail Reynolds will do to you? THIS is what I posted on Goodreads the morning (early, early morning) I finished this:
Fucking hell. Why would I start a book I know I'm going to like at 2am? It's now 7. Why do I do this to myself. As many issues as I had with this book - and they were big ones - I loved every minute of it.
What can I say, I saved the best for last. Daughter of the Forest is my favorite fairy tale retelling of all time. (So far. Let me know your faves and...moreWhat can I say, I saved the best for last. Daughter of the Forest is my favorite fairy tale retelling of all time. (So far. Let me know your faves and try to prove me wrong!) I did a mini-review of this once before, but I want to expand on that now, and get a little gushy fangirly.
I read this for the first time after having just finished Wildwood Dancing (also by Marillier). It came highly recommended by a friend, so I was pretty gung-ho. But the first 30 pages almost made me put it down. It's not that they were awful, but there was so much info-dumping, and nothing to really grab me and make me read it.
And then that all changed. I lost copious amounts of sleep over this book both times I read it, because when it gets going, it gets going. I was so in it, and I cared so much about Sorcha and Red and the brothers/swans and what was going to happen. The pacing of the relationship is beyond beautiful, perfectly suited to tease you and keep you hungry for more while never losing the tension by drawing it out too much.
When I originally reviewed this, I mentioned some issues I had with the villain and his Scooby-Doo tendency to spill his guts. I had less of an issue with this on rereads, even though it is a pet peeve of mine when characters do this -- I love this so much that I look back on everything with rose-colored glasses on. But why, you ask? Where to begin...
Everything about this book feels fully realized, which is always impressive, and more so when you consider that this was a debut. The characters felt real, and Marillier did an incredibly good job of making each memorable and distinguishable. The 6 brothers spend most of the book off-stage or as swans, and yet I never had any trouble remembering who was who, what they liked, what type of Character (capital C) they had, etc. So much love and layering went into their creation, you can just feel it. So you can only imagine the creations Sorcha and Red became.
There's so much pain in this story, and pain in the telling, and Mariliier doesn't just wipe the slate clean in the end. I really respect that, it makes everything feel more real and authentic and human. There are bad things that happen - as there are in real life - and Marillier did a really good job of not flinching away from that, and in showing the healing process and allowing her characters to work through things, come to terms with things. For those of you who have read the book, I'm not just talking about what happens to Sorcha. Multiple characters in the book face some really difficult things, and Marilier shows real honesty in her writing when allows a good does of realism alongside the fantasty aspects. There's always the wonder, sometimes the certainty, on the reader's part that there are things that they characters may not be able to come back from. There are wounds that may never heal. I don't like a sugar-coated story, and Marillier did a very respectable job of showing the highs and lows.
And this brings me to perhaps the thing that makes this the book of awesomely epic proportions that it is: aside from the info-dumping in the beginning, and the Scooby Doo moment at the end (rough patches), Marillier is incredibly good at Show-Don't-Tell. Sorcha is a silent character (have I mentioned that I love a well-done silent character? Because I do.); everything is sort of filtered through her and her silence, and the pain and heaviness of it, and the shelter that it can provide. I think writing from the perspective of a character that couldn't just spill her guts allowed Marillier to hone her talents in writing a tale that shows a complete picture and lets the audience gather more than what is said. Or maybe she's just naturally skilled at this. Whatever the reason for it, this is one of the most present books I've ever read. I felt this book. I can't tell you how many times I got butterflies when reading this - not just because of the slowly-developing romance, but because something was about to happen. Even rereading this, I still got butterflies - I knew what was going to happen, for crying out loud, and it still made me have a physical reaction.
God, writing this is making me want to read it again. And I know when I do, it will be another all-nighter, because I'll just have to keep reading until I get to _________; and when I get there...well, maybe I should read until I get to ____________. But I promise to go to sleep after that. Well, maybe one more chapter... (less)