16 May 2015

Book review: The Lady and the Monk

I recently read The Lady and the Monk, by Pico Iyer, which I'd bought secondhand a few years back but not got round to reading. It’s based in Kyoto, so this book was one that was destined to appeal to me. But I also found it very strange. The book started out as a travelogue, a type of book that I enjoy, and the author talked about the places that he visited and all the interesting people he met along the way. He was looking to learn more about Zen Buddhism, but in some ways he learned more about the parallels between Zen Buddhism and romance.

Early in the book he met Sachiko, a married woman with two children, who found western culture exciting and interesting. She seemed bored with her home life, so she kept making plans to meet up with Pico. The book revealed a lot about women’s roles in traditional Japanese society.

I had read that Pico later married Sachiko (real name Hiroko), so I was interested to see how their romance would develop. This was where I found the book quite strange, because the author didn’t really give away much about his own feelings towards her. She kept making grand gestures, in her words and actions, and I kept waiting for him to do the same but he never did. At one point it seemed that they had kissed, and late in the book they seemed to be sharing a hotel room, but I could see no sign other than this that there really was a romance, and I couldn’t understand how they ended up married.

I found the book very beautiful, but frustrating too! I loved Sachiko, with her constant enthusiasm, and the way that she seemed to be storing up every experience in her memory, knowing that it might be fleeting. I also loved the changing seasons through the book, which really gave a sense of time passing, and it made me want to spend a whole year in Kyoto!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...