They and their mama showed up on our front doorstep on Thursday at lunchtime, when it was 20 degrees out and windy. They were shivering. I brought them all inside and put them in our spare room along with a litter box, food, and water, and they're still there. We decided we'll keep them. On the same day, a friend rescued a longhaired orange kitty and took him in, which makes four kitties saved from the cold last week. We're turning into crazy cat people, all right.
I'll have some more reviews to post soon, though this past weekend I deliberately took a break from the immediate TBR pile. We recently started a subscription to Netflix, and Memoirs of a Geisha came up as a DVD I might enjoy watching. I put it in my queue but figured I ought to read the book first. Especially considering I'd bought it from Book of the Month Club when it came out (1997) but had yet to read it. (Other books in my collection have gone unread for longer than that. I try not to think about it too much.)
I won't be doing a formal writeup here, the book's too well known for that, but I did enjoy it a lot. However, I can't say I was swept away by it. It painted a very detailed picture of life as a geisha in Kyoto's entertainment district both before and after WWII. Sayuri's first-person narrative was involving and convincing, with an appropriate amount of emotional reserve. I would have liked more detail on her life as a witty, accomplished entertainer/artist as opposed to her mizuage (sexual initiation signifying her transformation from apprentice to full-fledged geisha). I had read Liza Dalby's Geisha in my intro to cultural anthropology class in undergrad and was fascinated by her depiction of the geisha world, which few Westerners get to glimpse; Golden's novel held the same fascination for me.
The second book I finished this weekend was a surprise. Sometimes I receive books for HNR that are outside the magazine's parameters, so I can't send them out to reviewers. Usually these are contemporary novels about the past rather than full-fledged historicals. On Friday afternoon, I opened up a mailing from Random House and found a copy of Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back, which has the cover tagline "It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is still alive today... as a vampire." Oh, yes. It was one of them. I'd read last year about the four-way auction for this book, which Ballantine won, and tucked that information away in the part of my brain I reserve for publishing trivia. I don't normally read vampire novels. Blood doesn't excite me. I'm not really a Janeite, either. But for some reason, I picked this novel off the coffee table while lazing around on the couch on Sunday morning and got hooked. Before I knew it, it was 4pm and the 300-page book was finished.
The main character, Jane "Fairfax" nee Austen, is a bookstore owner after my own heart. After the 200-odd years since her supposed death, the Austen industry has exploded. Not surprisingly, Jane is fed up with authors motivated not by the love of her work but by the desire to make a fast buck. After succeeding in a last-ditch attempt to find a publisher for her manuscript, written just before she was "turned," she simultaneously contends with a jealous Bronte scholar, a new boyfriend who may not understand her secret, the unpleasant return of an undead former suitor, and keeping her true identity hidden in the face of newfound fame. Her carefully concealed sharp fangs really aren't the point (pun intended), though she does need to feed now and then. Instead, it's a very funny spoof of the trend-hungry publishing industry, Austenmania, and vampire novels, and it doesn't make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. On the other hand, the author clearly knows his way around early 19th-century literature. The result is a vampire novel that even doubters of the concept could be caught dead reading. The official pub date is December 29th.