Memoirs of a Geisha Author:Arthur Golden An alluring tour de force: a brilliant debut novel told with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism as the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha. — Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. In Memoirs of a Geisha,... more » we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love, always elusive, is scorned as illusion.
Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Through her eyes, we see the decadent heart of Gion--the geisha district of Kyoto--with its marvelous teahouses and theaters, narrow back alleys, ornate temples, and artists' streets. And we witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. But as World War II erupts and the geisha houses are forced to close, Sayuri, with little money and even less food, must reinvent herself all over again to find a rare kind of freedom on her own terms.
Memoirs of a Geisha is a book of nuances and vivid metaphor, of memorable characters rendered with humor and pathos. And though the story is rich with detail and a vast knowledge of history, it is the transparent, seductive voice of Sayuri that the reader remembers.
A dazzling literary achievement of empathy and grace by an extraordinary new writer.« less
This book would have gotten 5 stars from me, except that it ended with a fizzle. The opening 2/3 of the book when she's sent to become a Geisha, learns the trade, and the politics within the Geisha house was just fascinating. But toward the end it became tedious and I was finally glad that it ended. Both of my parents read this book as well, and had the same opinion. But this book is still definitely worth a read!
I thought this was a remarkable book. The voice of the geisha and the authenticity of the times are consistent throughout the book. I carried it with me to read at odd moments -- something I don't usually do these days with books. The book was completely engaging.
Somehow I managed to not read it for the first 10 years since it was published!
I really loved this.... The narrator did an excellent job with this story... really lured you in and made you feel like you were there and part of the story... In the beginning the main character says she is going to explain about the day that "was the best day of her life as well as the worst" and then she goes into her personal accounts of the competition, glamour, and heartbreak that is you experience once you give your life over to becoming a geisha. I was really rooting for the main character throughout her story (beginning when she was just a girl of only 9 years old)--i laughed with her and actually cried with her at times... She really makes you realize that the life of a geisha isnt all glamour and it can actually be quite lonely; however as it is with many things in life even the darkest clouds can have a silver lining...
I knew nothing about Japanese Geisha prior to listening to this story and listened to this on a car ride from MD to NJ (it is only 3 hours long so it isnt as painstakingly long as many audio cds are so its great if you are just commuting to work or good to put on while driving around and running errands)---After finishing the story i must say i was extremly touched by this story and i am fascinated & would like to learn more about the lives of Japanese Geisha. ---Even if this isnt your normal genre of choice, i think most would enjoy this touching story..
This story is written so beautifully it reads like poetry. A fascinating look into the Geishas of Gion and their world. I could not put this book down, I wanted so badly to find out what happens between Sayuri and the Chairman!!!
This book was an ok read for an audio book. The story was interesting. My favorite part was about when Sayuri learned about the eels and their caves. You will have to read the book to find out what I mean.
we enter a world where women are trained to beguile and most powerful men;and where love is scorned as illusion. It si unique and triumphant work of fiction-at once romantic,erotic,suspenseful-and completely unforgettable.
From the first page till the last.
A saga of a young girl and how her life turns out.
The pain and heartache of training to be a geisha and the life of a geisha.
Fabulous writing, easy flow and engaging.
Descriptions put you there without over doing it. Just a wonderful read.
One of my all time favorites.
At nine years of age Chiyo is sold to a geisha house. If she is obedient enough she will begin her training to become a geisha. If she is strong and talented enough she will rise above obscurity. If she is lucky and perseveres her fondest dream will come true. This is the story of the daughter of a poor fisherman becoming one of the most celebrated geishas in Japan. But will her status bring her happiness?
I picked this book up at a store after watching the movie by the same title and learning that it was based on a critically-acclaimed book. It sat there for several years because I always want to forget what the story is about almost entirely before I revisit it. Just so happened that its time came during the week of season finales of my favorite TV shows and let me tell you, it held my attention so completely that I couldnt put it down even to watch the highly-anticipated episodes. Luckily theres Hulu.
Golden's writing reminded me of oriental silkscreen paintings where elegant, almost ephemeral brush strokes create a very solid image that is earthy and organic and capable of turning a setting that isn't that attractive into something beautiful. Here the setting is like splotchy skin under flawless white makeup: the world of Gion revolves around money, relationships between men and women and reputation, children are essentially sold into slavery when they are brought to Gion to train to become geisha and when they grow up they are almost always the other woman in the lives of the married men who become their danna. The book is so masterfully written that I couldn't put it down, but it bothered me that while it is obvious that Sayuri regards her life as difficult I never got a sense that she sees anything reprehensible about it or the world she lives in. I still have a hard time coming to terms with this aspect of the story.
Even though I could not readily relate to any of the characters I enjoyed getting to know them. Their personalities unfolded gradually and in one instance I was even surprised by the turn of events only to understand a moment later that what happened wasnt all that surprising after all. Mameha in particular stood out in her role of a strict but kind and fair mentor because you could tell that there was much more to her than met the eye.
What made this book especially satisfying is that with the help of the foreword (or Translators Note, as it is called here) the story began in present day New York and ended there. That gave it a sense of completeness, as if the events came a full circle and had a true end. I highly recommend it to any avid reader and am seriously considering keeping this volume for my home library, which doesnt happen with many books I read.
Find my other reviews at bibliophilescorner.blogspot.com
A true classic for those who love novels surrounded by history and a foreign land. Being a true romantic I adored this book for being a romance, although not in the traditional sense. By submerging themselves in Chiyo a reader can see how life is for one who allows love to lead them.
I really enjoyed this book and got very caught up in it, so much that, when I thought that Sayuri was going to do something that would be wrong or bad for her, I found it hard to read further and had to take a break! It reads like a memoir but is really a fiction story. Very nicely done. I am glad I kept reading. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Loved it. I saw the movie a few years back and was worried that having seen the movie would ruin the book experience for me. Fortunately, I only saw the movie once and didn't remember what happened between the main character and the chairman. There is also a lot of detail in the book that is not in the movie. I would read and read and look up and realize that I'd been reading for several hours. A story that is very easy to get into.
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.
We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.
This is a Trade paperback. The cover shows a geisha in traditional kimono. Image is in black, gray, and white but collar is pink and sash is red. This is a book that draws you into to another culture and another time (but not to distant time). You can't help but become absorbed into Sayuri's life.
I was upset when this came as a tape, because I had ordered it in paperback. I decided to listen to it anyway, and the story was fantastic. I loved it! Whether on tape or on paper, this is a great book.
Spectacular. Fascinating. Couldn't put this book down once I started it. It's amazing to think this work of fiction about a Japanese geisha is written by an American man. He does such a good job of conveying life inside the very foreign, the very closed, secretive world of geishas at the early part of the 20th century. His language is perfect. It's what you imagine a woman like Sayuri would say. You almost believe this is a memoir rather than a novel. Contrary to popular American opinion, geishas are not prostitutes. They are entertainers who live in a highly codified system of etiquette and rituals. It offered women who could become geisha an alternative to the marriage/wife/mother model. The life of a geisha isn't easy. This book makes it clear how hard it is and how much sacrifice is involved. There's mastery of dance, music, conversation, wearing a kimono, putting on highly elaborate makeup and hairdos, etc.