Book Reviews: May 2017

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Chiyo Sakamoto, along with her older sister, is sold by her father to become a geisha in the district of Gion. The book describes Chiyos life, from a first person narrative, as she becomes an apprentice geisha and the troubles she encounters in the house where she lives among many other trainee Geishas and maids. I loved the almost poetic way that way Golden wrote the novel, and enjoyed reading how Chiyos opinions of her surroundings, and Japan as a whole, changed throughout her life.

I have read many reviews complaining that Golden did the Japanese culture an injustice in this novel and to be quite honest I am unable to comment on whether or not this is true. However, if you want to learn about the history and culture of Japan I would recommend you reach for something more appropriate than a fictional novel. In contrast, if it’s a story packed with adventure and emotions you’re looking for then I think you will enjoy this one.

I really enjoyed the story and the way the novel was written, however I couldn’t quite get to grips with the pace the story travelled at. The first half of the book moved at a relatively slow pace which allows the reader to really get to know the characters and describes Chiyos day-by-day life in immense detail. But just over half way there seems to be a massive jump in the story. Without causing massive spoilers I felt somewhat underwhelmed with the ending. 3.5/5.

Unravelling Oliver – Liz Nugent

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her. I mean, with an opening like this how can one not be immediately hooked on the story. ‘Unravelling Oliver’ is the story of Oliver Ryan; a successful, rich, aggressive and twisted man. Each chapter flits between different points of view, which really added extra depth to the story. The first chapter of the book is absolutely fantastic and immediately had me itching to read more. We learn that Oliver Ryan has beaten his beautiful wife to within an inch of her life and as the story develops it delves further and deeper into Ryan’s past.

However, in my opinion the story as a whole just rested a little too heavily on coincidence? I felt my eyes almost rolling into the back of my head at one point towards the end of the story. This book was sold as a psychological thriller which it most definitely was not. Whilst it was most definitely an interesting, easy read – I feel it just does not live up to its competition in a genre so saturated at the minute. 2/5

A Day at the Office – Matt Dunn

A Day at the office is branded as a ‘laugh-out-loud novel about life, love, and relationships’ I was really looking forward to getting stuck into the book as the last few I’ve read have been really wordy and deep and wanted something a little more relaxed and easy reading. I found the story, or lack of it, monumentally disappointing. I really struggled to differentiate between the 5 main characters and found the female characters to be completely one-dimensional. Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh at any point throughout the comedy and only made it to the end of the book out of pure principle. 0.5/5

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