Published by Vintage on September 12th 1983 (first published 1958)
Genres: Japanese literature, Classic
A curiously elegant and scandalous tale of sexual deception and revenge. Ibuki loves widow Yasuko who is young, charming and sparkling with intelligence as well as beauty. His friend, Mikame, desires her too but that is not the difficulty. What troubles Ibuki is the curious bond that has grown between Yasuko and her mother-in-law, Mieko, a handsome, cultivated yet jealous woman in her fifties, who is manipulating the relationship between Yasuko and the two men who love her.
I did not forget about this challenge this year! The previous years were a bit of a disaster, but this time I am determined to make it. Looking at my list I get a bit nervous though.
Anyway, I can happily announce I am two books down (and have ten more to go)! I don’t think I can bring myself to write full reviews, but here are mini reviews for the two books I finished.
Masks was the first book off my TBR pile challenge that I finished. It was actually one of the alternates, and I ended up reading it for January in Japan. I was looking forward to reading something by Enchi, she was one of the classic authors I hadn’t read anything by yet.
Frankly… I read Masks back in January, and to my shame I don’t even remember how it ended. I can’t say it left a very deep impression on me. The characters didn’t do much for me, as did the storyline. What I did enjoy a lot were the nôh aspects, although I know close to nothing about nôh. And even better, the references to The Tale of Genji – that I thankfully do know a bit more about (although those who have been with me longer know I errr strongly dislike that story haha).
So while this book may not have ended up among my favourites, I am glad to have had the experience of reading it.
Published by Faber & Faber on 2005 (first published 1963)
Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things - grades, boyfriend, looks, career - and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality.
While reading this I went through a few stages. The first few pages, I couldn’t help but feel it was one of “those books”. I am sure you know what kind of books I am talking about – the youngster growing up, stepping out into the world, a few doubts here and there, with a touch of misplaced glamour. Except this time not with a young man but a young woman as a main character, so that was refreshing at least.
I completely changed my opinion a little bit onwards, as we got to know more about Esther and her life in New York. I was really beginning to enjoy the book. And then – although I saw it coming it still felt quite sudden – mental illness prevailed. It was almost shocking how relevant the book is even in this day and age (minus certain old-fashioned treatments).
I am glad I read this book. It really impressed me. Of course it is (sadly) no surprise Plath was able to write about it so well…