Sixth Book Book Wrap Up and New Book

Who has a Luau-themed Emma book discussion meeting?… We do!

Thank the forces of Google and readerscircle.org! Our book club discussion would have definitely not been the same if it wasn’t for the feedback provided by Jessica, our new English major member. If it was not for Jessica, I would have continued to think that Emma was an old, complicated book. Instead, Jessica enlightened us to open up to the beauty behind the structure and style of Jane Austen’s writing.  It was not just a story about a spoiled matchmaker. It was about a writing style and consistent theme. Here are some of the quotes discussed:

  • “Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good hands she will turn out a valuable woman”
  • “He had ridden home through the rain; and had walked up directly after dinner, to see this sweetness and best of all creatures, faultless in spite of all her faults, bore the discovery.”
  • “Mr. Martin is a very respectable young man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet’s equal…”

About the Luau, it turns out one of our founding members Justine will be moving back to her native Hawaii after 7 years in the Bay Area. We wish Justine the best of luck in her endeavors as she settles back into the spirit of the Islands and plans for her wedding.

Finally, we have two new members who we are very excited about, Stephanie and Jessica. Stephanie is a nutritionist and  is new in the Bay Area while Jessica is our English major member. We look forward to future meetings with them.

Our new Book is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

The book club is actually doing something a bit different for the next couple of months. There were some really strong convictions for two different books- one Japanese and the other Chinese. We decided to read Memoires of a Geisha first followed by Battlehymn of the Tiger Mother second.

Here is the Amazon.com review: “According to Arthur Golden’s absorbing first novel, the word “geisha” does not mean “prostitute,” as Westerners ignorantly assume–it means “artisan” or “artist.” To capture the geisha experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long and hard as any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties, and cunning seduction of wealthy patrons. After earning degrees in Japanese art and history from Harvard and Columbia–and an M.A. in English–he met a man in Tokyo who was the illegitimate offspring of a renowned businessman and a geisha. This meeting inspired Golden to spend 10 years researching every detail of geisha culture, chiefly relying on the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who spent years charming the very rich and famous.

The result is a novel with the broad social canvas (and love of coincidence) of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen‘s intense attention to the nuances of erotic maneuvering. Readers experience the entire life of a geisha, from her origins as an orphaned fishing-village girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity) for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western “trophy wife” than to a prostitute–and, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution and early death is a woman’s alternative to the repressive, arcane system of courtship. In simple, elegant prose, Golden puts us right in the tearoom with the geisha; we are there as she gracefully fights for her life in a social situation where careers are made or destroyed by a witticism, a too-revealing (or not revealing enough) glimpse of flesh under the kimono, or a vicious rumor spread by a rival “as cruel as a spider.”

Golden’s web is finely woven, but his book has a serious flaw: the geisha’s true romance rings hollow–the love of her life is a symbol, not a character. Her villainous geisha nemesis is sharply drawn, but she would be more so if we got a deeper peek into the cause of her motiveless malignity–the plight all geisha share. Still, Golden has won the triple crown of fiction: he has created a plausible female protagonist in a vivid, now-vanished world, and he gloriously captures Japanese culture by expressing his thoughts in authentic Eastern metaphors.”

Our next meeting will be on April 12th @ 7pm.  The meeting location will be emailed to club members.

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