European Royalty discussion

69 views
History Discussions > African & Asian History: What have you read lately?

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments I read Memoirs of a Geisha sometime in the past year and really enjoyed it. The movie was beautiful, but I preferred the book.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I'm interested in reading a book about South Africa, but I've never gotten around to finding one, so if anyone has any recommendations, that would be great!

And although it's not really "history" in any way, I just finished reading The Girls of Riyadh and I absolutely loved it (and learned a lot about Saudi Arabian culture).

Girls of Riyadh by  Rajaa Abdullah Alsanea


message 2: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments MM Kaye is my favorite for tales of Asia and especially 19C India. I reread The Far Pavilions about a year ago (that's a wow book), and then went on to read Shadow of the Moon and Trade Wind. Trade Wind takes place on the island of Zanzibar. Kaye spent much of her life living in India, as did her father in the Civil Service. Her knowledge of the history and culture really shines through.

Zemindar by Valerie Fitzerald is very very good and a good compliment to MM Kaye's Shadow of the Moon. Both books tell about the Sepoy Rebellion in India, but from different perspectives. I loved her prose, it was almost like reading Bronte. Out of print, but worth looking for.

I also read Blood of Flowers about a girl in Iran and enjoyed it, but I'd call it 3.5/5 stars. I tried reading Beneath a Marble Sky about building of the Taj Majal but I bailed at 100 pages. Have copies of both I'd be willing to swap.

More romance oriented but a cracking good read set in 19C India (plenty of details about the society and culture of the day) is Olivia and Jai. A _huge_ twist in the middle of the book that I challenge anyone to see coming.


message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna | 19 comments For books set in India I can recommend The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan and the sequel, The Feast of Roses, continues the story of Emperor Jahangir and Mehrunnisa. She has also published, The Splendor of Silence, set in India during WWII.


message 4: by April Ann (last edited Jan 14, 2009 09:30AM) (new)

April Ann (bloomer) | 83 comments I'm reading The Far Pavilions (group read) and it is awesome! Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorite books (didn't care much for the movie, but that always happens when I've read the book first). My other two historical Asian favorites would be The Samurai's Garden and Women of the Silk, both by Gail Tsukiyama.

A great read for women is The Warrior Woman: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston.

The Samurai's Garden A Novel by Gail Tsukiyama Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama
The Woman Warrior Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Blood of Flowers is also on my TBR list.


message 5: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments April, have you read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Novel? You might enjoy that one as well.


message 6: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Oh yeah, I finally picked up The Far Pavilions yesterday (for the group read) and it's great so far! Very hard to put down!


message 7: by April Ann (last edited Jan 15, 2009 08:14AM) (new)

April Ann (bloomer) | 83 comments Oh yes Tisha I forgot to mention that one! I read it last year as well.

Ijust remembered another one Snow Falling on Cedars By David Guterson Although I wouldn't exactly characterize it as historical fiction (it may be) but more like a murder mystery. It's a court room drama type novel.

Here's what Publisher's Weekly says: "First-novelist Guterson presents a multilayered courtroom drama set in the aftermath of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII."


Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


message 8: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments See now Snow Flower/Secret Fan just didn't rock my book world. It was good and I'm glad to have read it but it didn't stay on the keeper shelf for a reread.


message 9: by April Ann (new)

April Ann (bloomer) | 83 comments Misfit, a friend of mine who is Chinese said it wasn't totally accurate. I thought it was a good quick read, but I agree that I will probably not reread that one.


message 10: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments Snow Flower would've been a great book club read I thing. I had mixed emotions about whether I thought Lily was spoiled and selfish...or justified in her feelings.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 378 comments I have not read Snow Flower, but really enjoyed Peony in Love, also by Lisa See.


message 12: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Misfit wrote: "MM Kaye is my favorite for tales of Asia and especially 19C India. I reread The Far Pavilions about a year ago (that's a wow book), and then went on to read Shadow of the Moon and Trad..."

Oh, I so loved the Far Pavilions and also bought Shadow of the Moon and Tradewinds but couldn't get interested in them. I'll always rank the Pavilions as one of my top 5 and reread it every few years for the pleasure of it.




message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Tisha wrote: "April, have you read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Novel? You might enjoy that one as well."


I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan because lately I'm just so interested in China. Although I once put it down thinking I couldn't bear the sorrow and horror of the details of foot binding any more. I'm glad I picked it back up even though the ending was disappointing. Now every book I read about China (I'm devouring Anchee Min right now), I am continuously reminded of Snowflower. I might have to try Peony In Love.



message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Sara wrote: "I read Memoirs of a Geisha sometime in the past year and really enjoyed it. The movie was beautiful, but I preferred the book.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I'm interested in reading a..."


Have you read "Cry the Beloved Country"? I reread it all the time. It's a very soothing, comforting kind of tale even though the events, which seem to be almost secondary to the experience of the darling, sweet, noble old soul of a preacher man ,are violent. You hear about all that sadness second hand. You are soul to soul with the preacher man as he deals with the events, which take his son. (It's not a religious book really, though the main character is a preacher.)
There's also "Too Late the Phalarope" which I admit is still sitting on my shelf unable to compete with the likes of Empress Orchid and her beautiful China.




message 15: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments Leslie wrote: "Tisha wrote: "April, have you read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Novel? You might enjoy that one as well."


I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan because lately I'm just so i..."


Leslie, I would love to hear what you think of Peony in Love. It is a book I have been meaning to read for quite a while.




message 16: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Leslie wrote: "Sara wrote: "I read Memoirs of a Geisha sometime in the past year and really enjoyed it. The movie was beautiful, but I preferred the book.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I'm interested..."


I have not read Cry the Beloved Country, although the title sticks in my head as a book I should read (even though I know absolutely NOTHING about it). Thanks for the recommendation!


message 17: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) They made a movie about it too. James Earl Jones plays the father/priest. It's such a pretty movie with all these gorgeous scenes of Africa.


message 18: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) I see there are two of us Leslie's! I just finished Anchee Min's Empress Orchid and it's sequel, The Last Empress. Couldn't put them down. Very good reads, but very sorry to learn about China's treatment by the rest of the world. Next I'm reading Seagraves book on the same subject to see what he had to say.


The Book Whisperer (aka Boof) | 85 comments China books are one of my favourite things to read. I can devour 5 or 6 in a row when I get on a roll. I just love that country (I went on holiday there in 2004 too and loved it). I loved Empress Orchid too Leslie.


message 20: by Barbara (last edited May 30, 2009 10:42PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 143 comments Ruth Prawer Jhabvala , not a historian I have to say,so probably I'm off-topic, writes utterly brilliant novels of India. As do the Desais, mother and daughter. And Arundhati Roy. And of course VS Naipaul


message 21: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Barbara wrote: " Ruth Prawer Jhabvala , not a historian I have to say,so probably I'm off-topic, writes utterly brilliant novels of India. As do the Desais, mother and daughter. And Arundhati Roy. And of course V..."

Oh, you're fine recommending any novels, especially if you really like them (I recommended Girls of Riyadh above and it's not historical). It's great getting recommendations that highlight another culture.


message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 143 comments Yes indeed!


back to top