Monday, September 16, 2013

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Ruth Reichl, world-renowned food critic and editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, knows a thing or two about food. She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world--a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl reveals the comic absurdity, artifice, and excellence to be found in the sumptuously appointed stages of the epicurean world and gives us--along with some of her favorite recipes and reviews--her remarkable reflections on how one's outer appearance can influence one's inner character, expectations, and appetites, not to mention the quality of service one receives.

I loved reading this book.  It was fun.  It was interesting.  I laughed.  I cried.  I learned more than I expected. It's three stars because I'm a harsh critic and I don't know that I will ever pick it up for a reread...4 or better for multiple readings is a rule with me.  Too many books and not enough time for me to read them all limits my ability to go back.  I especially loved Ruth's disguises and her insight into both sides of the restaurant culture.

Friday, August 09, 2013

There...And Back Again

So...I'm back.  Again.

J and I have just returned from a family reunion cruise to Bermuda and another school year is about to start. I have never been good about writing regularly but we'll give it a try for my one little follower out there.

A new year.

New students.

New books.

New adventures.

Let the games begin...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Billed as a "Cinderella story", Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is a fabulous story about a young woman's life as a geisha. When her mother grows ill, Chiyo's father sells her and her sister into slavery. Chiyo's sister is sold into prostitution, while Chiyo is sold to the geisha house of the Nitta family. Into this world Chiyo is thrust, having to endure harsh treatment from the house's star geisha - Hatsumomo. It is not long before Chiyo is convinced her life will be lived as a servant to the Nitta house and to Hatsumomo.

It is when she has almost given up that fate intervenes in the forms of two characters:

The Chairman - Chiyo's "Prince Charming", who rescues her during an emotional breakdown through the simple act of kindness. This act convinces her to go on. She will spend the rest of her life trying to attain the Chairman's affections, if only in her own fantasies.

Mameha - Chiyo's "Fairy Godmother", who will become Chiyo's teacher in the world of the geisha. Mameha's cleverness and knowledge will protect and shape the woman and the geisha Chiyo becomes.

Chiyo becomes the geisha, Sayuri, and the book changes from a "coming of age" novel to a more dramatic examination of relationships and love. It's here where the story becomes weaker. The first half is so engaging and well-developed that the second half falls a little flat. The second half is a great book - which makes the first half phenomenal! I loved this book and could not put it down.