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.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Block versus Dead End

So I finished Chapter 9 and am very unhappy. It's not a writer's block as I got the thing out just fine. It's more like a dead end.

I'm thinking of scratching the whole thing and starting again. I know I'm not supposed to. Write first, fix on draft 2. However, I might break this rule since it is so clearly not where I want it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why Begin This Again?

It has been so long since I really wrote here that I don't know why I am bothering to start again. In all honesty, I blame you Bo. It's an outlet, right? Bah!

We'll see if it sticks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

Dark, scary, and at times almost to painful to read - this is what I thought of Louise Murphy's The True Story of Hansel and Gretel.

There are so many books out there about the Holocaust and there are a few that combine it's history with the idea of a fairytale. One example is Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. Both books are good and emotional reads that do not try to hide the horrors of the holocaust. Briar Rose is aimed more towards a young adult reader. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is not. That is not to say a young adult couldn't read Hansel and Gretel, they could but the language is harsher and the horrors deeper.

Set in Poland during the Nazi occupation, Hansel and his sister Gretel are abandoned in the woods by their father and Stepmother. This is as much to try and save them as it is to give the parents a chance to escape, after all the Nazis are after them. This is a race for survival. The children are slowing the parents down and the parents are beacons for he Nazis to find the children. Spliting up may be the only chance for survival. It is the stepmother who tells them to forget who they are and renames them after the fairytale pair.

We follow the children, who end up in the house of a local Rom witch. We also follow the father as he joins up with the resistance army, trying to reunite with his family. It's a heartbreaking story where both the fairytale and history blend together into a stark tale.

Book Description:
In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.