A book for life

Running, splashing, shouting, laughing, crying, eating, drinking…sunscreen slopping, ice-cream licking, sandwich eating… ah, sun-bed lounging…beach-bag searching…big book opening…heart-beat slowing…memory-making…

Majorca…August…2006…A journey to another world, a time gone by, a story I will never forget…

There are some books I’ve read that I still carry with me. Somehow they’ve been woven into my DNA and are now a part of my life. The music I listened to, the foods I ate, the places I sat as I read these books are forever with me and part of the book itself. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one such book. It was a holiday read, recommended by my hairdresser, borrowed from my mum – a little bit of light reading, for one of those snatched moments between swimming with the children and searching for somewhere to eat in the evening. It was a ‘low expectations’ kind of a book, something to pass the time, a book to swap once home…it was none of these things. It is none of these things. It is a most beautifully written and thoroughly compelling story of Sayuri, a Kyoto Geisha. The story begins with her purchase in 1929, takes us through her apprenticeship and involves us in the politics of life as a Geisha. This is a story that draws on the personal fragilities and insecurities of the Geishas; their vulnerability and dependency on their sponsors; the constant effort of doing and saying the right thing, of being in the right place, of being in demand and of earning a living.

I will never forget finishing this novel. I was on the balcony of our hotel room and it was time to collect our children from the ‘kids club’. I was so over-whelmed with emotion, so tear-stained that I had to ask my husband to collect the children because I needed time to let my emotions settle. Did they? Probably not, I can still picture those last few images of Memoirs of a Geisha and when I do, I feel a little pang behind my eyes. It is a beautiful, compelling, romantic, thought-provoking social commentary of a book and there is a little bit of it woven into me.

Rachel Clarke, Coventry Primary English Consultant

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