This is one of my favorite books. Usually my favorites fall into the "weird and beautiful" category; this one is just beautiful. So beautiful, in factThis is one of my favorite books. Usually my favorites fall into the "weird and beautiful" category; this one is just beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that it actually makes my heart flutter. Imagine that.
I understand there was some minor backlash from the few modern geishas left in Japan over how Arthur Golden portrayed a few of the traditions of the geisha, but, when I went and did a little research on my own, I saw that the complaints were not about the practices or historical fact but of semantics. So I don't let the small controversy bother me.
This is, for all intents and purposes, simply an historical romance. But it paints such a clear and highly detailed picture of a specific time and place that one can not help but be in awe of it. While the author DID have help from actual former geishas who are now in their eighties, the main character is a total invention; but the book reads as though a real flesh-and-blood woman is dictating it. A lovely and amazing achievement from a first time writer who is neither old nor Japanese nor a woman.
While modern readers might be a little squicked over the main crux of the love story itself, when taken into perspective and the history is taken into account, I never had a single problem with it. In fact, the highly perfect painting of the place and time sucked me in so thoroughly while I was reading, it didn't even occur to me to be even a little bothered by the relationship until well after the first time I read the book.
As with most other books that were made into movies, I didn't see this one. I watched the first half-hour and gave up. So much is left out and miss-represented and changed. I am not at all surprised the move crashed and burned at the box office. I mean, it would really only appeal to people who had read the book, and the movie was so altered from the book that it alienated the very people it was intended for. Irritating.
The book is good, though. Stick to the book. ...more
Several of my favorite novels, I have discovered, were written by people who had no business writing a novel like that. This is one of them.
Allan GurgSeveral of my favorite novels, I have discovered, were written by people who had no business writing a novel like that. This is one of them.
Allan Gurganus managed to write a novel about the past hundred and fifty years in the deep south, in the voice of a woman, while keeping it sincere, engaging, realistic, and entertaining. The characters feel real. Even the people who only inhabit the book for a page. This book takes an historical time and makes it a breathing place; if that distinction makes any sense.
It's sad and funny and a little weird. It's so sincere and unflinching that sometimes it is hard to look at, but you have to. You have to know what happens next. At least, I did.
I found this book condescending, unexciting, and ill thought-out. I wanted it to be better. I had been TOLD it was fun. I was lied to. This is an awfuI found this book condescending, unexciting, and ill thought-out. I wanted it to be better. I had been TOLD it was fun. I was lied to. This is an awful book....more
Okay, so: I was unsure as to what star-rating to give this book. While being well-written and obviously well-researched, it was really two totally sepOkay, so: I was unsure as to what star-rating to give this book. While being well-written and obviously well-researched, it was really two totally separate stories that Erik Larson tried to stitch together for reasons unknown, one of which I would have given more stars to than the other.
The premise of the book, judging from the cover-flap, was that a serial killer stalked the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893. Fascinating! I had no idea! Except that's not what it's about. What the book really seems to be about are the huge problems that arose with the administrative and architectural portions of developing the Worlds Fair, intercut with a history of a serial killer who lived in a suburb of Chicago at the time. These two things weren't connected but slightly. Daniel Burnham, the Director of Works for the Worlds Fair and the "protagonist" of the Worlds Fair portion of the book, never met the serial killer, never lost anyone to him, didn't know about him until well after the fact. H.H. Holmes (or any of the other pseudonyms he used) was the serial killer in question, but he had been swindling and killing people for a long time before the fair opened, only went to the fair twice, never killed anyone there or killed anyone he met there. He transformed his building's third floor into a hotel where he hoped to lure unwary young ladies who were visiting the fair alone ... but that never happened. He killed his wives, their families, and members of his staff instead.
So both stories were good and interesting, but I found the transition between them quite jarring. I would be getting into one chain of events only to be interrupted by the other story, which failed to capture my interest for several pages before I became rapt once again ... only to be jarred back to the other story line. So maybe it's me. It's probably me.
Recommended, I suppose, if you like history and can multitask one book. ...more
A wonderful book. A non-fiction fiction of delicious proportions. John Berendt loves people, and he falls in love with places just as easily. His giftA wonderful book. A non-fiction fiction of delicious proportions. John Berendt loves people, and he falls in love with places just as easily. His gift for capturing the voice and character of his fellow human beings is exceeded only by his unfailing ability to recreate the voice of a city, with her moods, facets, and sensibilities.
There is a bit of a murder mystery here as well as several character studies. There are also history lessons and a great deal of socio-political commentary in the form of personal anecdotes from the residents of Savannah. There is magic and voodoo and lots of parties. I laughed out loud several times the first time I read this book.
I very much enjoy reading this book. It's an excellent mystery story to begin with. Who is killing monks and why? Does it have something to do with thI very much enjoy reading this book. It's an excellent mystery story to begin with. Who is killing monks and why? Does it have something to do with the library? What about the newly re-converted "heretics" and the Franciscans?
I really like all the history poured into this novel. The characters all seem very real to me and the story itself is very intelligent; I've had several conversations and debates due entirely to this book over theological interpretations and the nature of morality. And also over which order we'd join if we decided to take vows.
You get the point.
The only problem I have with this book, really, is that it made me brush up on my Latin. There's a lot of it. It's sort of like the French in Villette: the author just assumed that the reader would know the language and so just threw it in there all willy-nilly. Luckily for me, I studied both those languages... so with this book, just like when I read Villette, I got about one word out of every three. Enough that I could get the gist of what was being said, but for actual meaning I had to haul out my Latin text book from college.
Recommended. AND one of the few books where I liked the film almost as well as the novel upon which it was based....more
This is yet another book which I really SHOULD have enjoyed throughly but, on fact, did not. I'm not sure exactly why I was neither interested in or eThis is yet another book which I really SHOULD have enjoyed throughly but, on fact, did not. I'm not sure exactly why I was neither interested in or engaged by this story. It's long, but I have several very long and weighty novels; Tristram Shandy and The Once and Future King, for example, are both as long if not longer than this book but I had no problem with them.
I also love historical novels, especially those that take special care to be true to the time period and well researched. I also love speculative fiction, alternate timelines, unclear protagonists, and original magic systems. I love creative thought. This book had all these things, but I STILL didn't like it. I didn't enjoy reading it much at all, and had to force myself to finish it. I felt like I was being punished for something, literarily speaking. Maybe for having to replace my Bartlett's after leaving it down thereby giving access to it to the dog who proceeded to chew it and then widdle all over the cover.
Once should take better care of one's books.
But I digress: This book was awful but for no good or discernible reason. I keep it around, though, because I fully intend to take another crack at it. Some day....more
I got this for Christmas when I was ten years old and read it so much that I wore the dang cover almost off. Loved this book. STILL love this book. MyI got this for Christmas when I was ten years old and read it so much that I wore the dang cover almost off. Loved this book. STILL love this book. My geekiness showed early....more
I might not have been so dissapointed, but I had enjoyed the other books in the series that I had read. I came acrosOh, man .... what a terrible book.
I might not have been so dissapointed, but I had enjoyed the other books in the series that I had read. I came across the third book in this series(North by Northanger Or The Shades of Pemberley A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery) first at a thrift store for a dollar and figured "why not?" After reading it, I liked it. It was very cute and fluffy and harmless. I said so in my review. So I looked for other books in the series and found them, but was still missing the first on. I finally found it at a Half Price Book store and was very please.
But it's not that good. I understand it's a first book ... but the author made some really, really unfortunate chices in plot, pacing and characterization. The worst was the end. It was ... terrible. I really just don't know what else to call it.
Not recommneded. If you like this sort of thing, skip this book and skip to others in the series. ...more
This is one of my favorite books. It's a quick-reference to the middle and upper classes in Regency and Victorian England. It's a great source of knowThis is one of my favorite books. It's a quick-reference to the middle and upper classes in Regency and Victorian England. It's a great source of knowledge to fill-in-the-blank when reading something by the Bronte sisters or other books from the period. It's rules for the card games and the common items on a menu and how to run a household and what the dances they're talking about actually looked like and that sort of thing.
I very much enjoyed reading it.
Recommended to any fan of 19th century literature,students of modern history, or trivia collectors....more
It seems that this week is my week for reading Austen-inspired literature.
Unlike the other book I read this week, Mr. Darcy's Daughters was well reseaIt seems that this week is my week for reading Austen-inspired literature.
Unlike the other book I read this week, Mr. Darcy's Daughters was well researched, well written, and fairly accurate.
That last part impressed me the most: being an amature student of early 19th century Western culture, I know that the small, gossipy, amoral upperclass in Regentcy London represented in this book was far more historically correct than most authors are willing to write when dealing with Austenian comedy-of-manners novels. It was thrilling and uncomfortable to read. I felt so awful for the girls when the gossip mongers started rumors about them just for fun.
The writing itself was alright. I had a slight problem with some of the characterization: cousin Fitzwilliam, for example, was in Pride and Prejudice a very friendly, relaxed, intelligent man but here is portrayed twenty-years later as a blind, close-minded semi-tyrant with no common sense. The plot itself was what you would expect, and in some places cribbed directly from the source material, but it was all worth it for one of the last scenes in the book, where there was a great deal of people coming in and out of the parlors and pretending to faint and declaring love for one another. It was very funny and somehow realistic.
Recommended, if you are into this sort of thing....more