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The Winning Essay...Thanks to Michele for our lovely book totes

We are a diverse group of fourteen women, aged 35 through 56, with an eclectic range of reading appetites. For some of us, a reading group demands dissection of the intricacies of Kafka, for others, it is experiencing the vicarious thrills of assaulting the perilous frozen heights of Everest with Krakaeur. For all of us, reading offers an opportunity to look closely into our own lives at issues brought up by our books and to discuss them with friends. We have been meeting over two years now and our core of central characters has essentially remained the same, with a few new additions along the way.
The enthusiasm and energy generated in choosing the next featured title have been just as lively as our monthly discussions on the themes, nuances, and inner meanings of the designated selections. Our group selected Memoirs of a Geisha to read after a heated and passionate discussion with many possible titles tossed into the ring. After discussing more than twenty books over the past two years, we have selected memoirs of a Geisha as our all time favorite. We tend to incorporate a few culinary delights prior to our discussion based on an appropriate food theme and the Japanese hors d'oeuvres and sushi come instantly to mind when we think of the Memoirs "event".
The colorful characters in memoirs gave us ample opportunity to criticize Hatsumomo, offer comments of respect and admiration for Mameha, and we felt the depth of Sayuri's journey and turmoil through life. Those of us who are parents could not imagine the feelings of a father giving up his young daughter to live the life of a geisha. The relationship between Nobu and the Chairman and Sayuri diverged into a discussion by our group of past relationship s in all of our lives. We felt a lingering sadness for the once carefree sister-like relationship between Pumpkin and Sayuri which would never be repaired. Who can forget the pains of our closest, dearest childhood friends and the separate, divergent paths that caused us to loose track or tug on our own memories?
Many of us were surprised that a male author from Massachusetts could so fluently enter the life of a young Japanese girl. He crossed gender, cultural and time gaps in a thoroughly believable manner. Arthur Golden aptly demonstrated that there really is no gender bias in understanding human nature. We are all simply human beings at the core. The last parting comment from one of our members was that "never again will we be able to innocently look at a red ribbon in a Japanese woman's hair, or to take for granted the freedom of when or with whom to lose one's virginity".