Checking Off More Treasure Clues

I am chugging away at the Treasure Hunt Reading Challenge, and have checked off two more “clues”.

For the profession clue, I read Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s possible that I am the last person in the world to have read this! Here’s the blurb on the off-chance you haven’t read it:

geisha

In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child’s unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha’s elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work – suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

Although I am not sure of the authenticity of a white American male writing in the first person as a geisha in the 1930s/40s, I did find myself quite immersed in Sayuri’s world, and ended up enjoying the novel more than I expected, although I did find the ending a little unsatisfactory.

The second clue I checked off was “something you would wear”, and for this I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Here’s the blurb:

boystriped

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

I read this book in two days (it’s been a while since I’ve done that!). Although the grim inevitability of the ending was hanging in the air right from the outset, I still found it difficult to put down, and still found myself deeply affected by the conclusion. I liked the sparse writing style, and thought it was perfectly paced. The horrors of the Holocaust were not spelled out in any explicit way but somehow that made it all the more arresting. My main criticism of the book would be that the character of Bruno seemed at times to be just a little too immature and naive, even for a 9 year old. I appreciate that this is a children’s book, but it does seem rather patronising to kids at times. So, a recommendation, with some reservations. I have heard that, in this case, the film may be better than the book but I haven’t seen the film (of this, or of Memoirs of a Geisha as it happens) so I can’t comment, though I would be interested in your thoughts if you have!

I haven’t decided what to read for my next clue, so you will just have to watch this space!

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6 thoughts on “Checking Off More Treasure Clues

  1. Both books I want to read, I even have Memoirs on my bookshelf but haven’t gotten their yet.

    I saw the movie of The Boy with Striped Pajamas, and don’t remember it being patronising. The end became obvious and it was unbearably hard to watch. It was very stark, though I expected that when I picked that, but I did keep hoping for a changed happy ending!

    • vivjm says:

      I definitely think striped pyjamas is worth reading. I had a look at a blog post comparing the book and the film which mentioned that the book conveyed innocence better, because it was totally from Bruno’s perspective, whereas the film was able to explore the other characters more. It has made me want to see the movie though.

  2. Wow – striped pyjamas is on the reading list for primary school kids here in Australia, both my older kids read it with school at a tender age and it had a real effect on them.
    Can you fit ‘The Last Runnaway’ into your clues? I just read it and loved it, the Quaker bits, the quilting bits, the learning who you are in a new country bits….

    • vivjm says:

      I’m not sure if I can fit The Last Runaway into this challenge, but I would definitely like to read it after I looked it up on Goodreads – sounds right up my street!

  3. Daire says:

    I think I have both of these sitting on my shelves somewhere… don’t know if I’ll ever get round to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas though because (a) someone described, in detail, every twist and turn of the story to me and (b) I really don’t handle sad stories well.

    Good luck wih your whimsical reading efforts, you seem to be doing really well!

    D x

    • vivjm says:

      I don’t handle sad stories very well either!! And, yes, it is definitely a sad story.
      I am enjoying the challenge – thanks for the inspiration 🙂

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