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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) » User review

Fate, Fortune, Quality and Grace

  • Jan 31, 2000
  • by
Pros: Great story, VERY well written

Cons: It is fiction, I wanted it to be a true story

One of the best novels I've read (and reread) in a long time, Memoirs of a Geisha tells a powerful and moving story about Sayuri, a lovely grey-eyed geisha of Gion.

This novel tells with intimate detail about the life in the household that supports a geisha. Each geisha is like a cottage industry. She supports a household by her income earned by going to parties and entertaining. I truly had no concept of what being a geisha was about, but they are truly lovely, charming and talented. Because of the differences between our culture and that of Japan, I think that we perceive such an occupation with a much harsher viewpoint. I had previously associated geisha with prostitution. That would be like calling a Best in Show German Shepherd a "scrawny flea-bitten mongrel." I have heard men say that when they go to Japan that they will "get themselves a geisha girl." The reality is very far from this perception. Although a geisha's virginity is an auctioned commodity, most after that point are exceptionally discrete and are not promiscuous.

Sayuri, who is virtually sold into slavery to the Nitta household at the age of nine transforms into a lovely butterfly clad in exquisite kimono. The descriptions of the kimono are wonderful and certainly make me want to learn more about this "art form."

I read Memoirs of a Geisha in July over a period of two days. I truly could not put it down. The writing is so well done that the story flows effortlessly as water trickles downhill. I gave a copy to my mother for Christmas. She loved it. I read it again in the last week and I think I enjoyed it even more, because since reading it the first time, I've gained a greater awareness of many of the people, places and things mentioned in the book, and as a result gained an appreciation for things that were previously unknown to me.

A great novel to curl up with by the fire, or on the plane!


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More Memoirs of a Geisha (Book) reviews
Quick Tip by . March 10, 2011
A more accurate read would be Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki who took Arthur Golden to court for defamation of character after he breached the agreement not to reveal her as one of his sources and fictionalized her experiences, with many negative parallels to her real life.
Quick Tip by . August 14, 2010
I found that the book is much better than the movie.
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
never read the book but the movie was really good it was colorful and interesting.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
This was the kind of book that transports the reader into an entirely different time and culture. You are exploring a world that is unknown, mysterious, and yet, familiar.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
fascinating tale
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
An enjoyable read and an interesting view into another culture.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Very interesting novel. You learn lots of things about the culture
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
I loved it so much I read it twice.
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Awesome book and history, Good read.
Quick Tip by . January 04, 2010
Well-written and entertaining, but Arthur Golden's use of inaccuracies in an attempt to create drama portray geisha in a negative light.
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About this book


According to Arthur Golden's absorbing first novel, the word "geisha" does not mean "prostitute," as Westerners ignorantly assume--it means "artisan" or "artist." To capture the geisha experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long and hard as any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties, and cunning seduction of wealthy patrons. After earning degrees in Japanese art and history from Harvard and Columbia--and an M.A. in English--he met a man in Tokyo who was the illegitimate offspring of a renowned businessman and a geisha. This meeting inspired Golden to spend 10 years researching every detail of geisha culture, chiefly relying on the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who spent years charming the very rich and famous.

The result is a novel with the broad social canvas (and love of coincidence) of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen's intense attention to the nuances of erotic maneuvering. Readers experience the entire life of a geisha, from her origins as an orphaned fishing-village girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity) for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western "trophy wife" than to a prostitute--and, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution and early death is a woman's alternative to the ...

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ISBN-10: 0375400117
ISBN-13: 978-0375400117
Author: Arthur Golden
Publisher: Knopf

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