Burnt shadows by Kamila Shamsie

About the book

In a prison cell in the US, a man stands trembling, naked, fearfully waiting to be shipped to Guantanamo Bay. How did it come to this? Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of disasters evaded and confronted, loyalties offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books

This was a novel that encompassed major events in the world’s history – from the Japanese A bombs to modern problems. We enjoyed the first half better but we learnt much about modern history.

Star rating: ***

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The Girl who played Go by Sa Shan

About the book

the Place of a Thousand Winds, a 16 year-old Chinese girl beats all-comers at the game of go. One of her opponents is a young Japanese officer of the occupying power. As their two stories unfold, the Japanese army moves inexorably through their huge land, leaving blood and destruction in its wake.

Reviewed by Fawley Holborn U3A

We universally disliked this book – it told an emotional story on such way that the reader simply did not emphathise with the characters. It was disjointed and a rather empty piece of literature.

Star rating: *

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The Body Wore Brocade by James Melville

About the book

“Melville’s strength lies in creating complex and beguiling characters and…he’s never been better.”
THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
Wandering among New Year’s revelers, Superintendent Otani is shot in the back. By strange coincidence, the Noh performer he had been watching earlier in the day is later found strangled in his luxurious home, clad in full Noh costume. The crime rivets the attention of Otani’s entire force, for the late Noh performer had not only been a dedicated amateur artist but also a wealthy businessman. His death liberates a fortune to his sister and his two attractive nephews and also raises some questions: Is the crime personal or political? And how, if at all, does it connect with the near murder of Otani?

Reviewed by Brookmans Reading Group :

Mixed views. Not a very good detective story, more about relationships and Japanese culture. (We do want to find out more about Noh theatre). Generally easy reading. It was suggested we read the earlier stories to see how the character of Otani develops

Rating: **

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

book cover

About the book

A¬†seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan’s most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha – dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men

Reviewed by Enjoying Books Reading Group:

An interesting cultural read – we were amazed that the author was a man. Very informative. The book created a great deal of discussion.

Star rating: ***

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