Memoirs of a Geisha Book by Arthur Golden
Click Here to Download the Book Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess. At nine, in a 1929 poor fishing village, she is sold to a geisha house, the buyer attracted by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. In Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto, she works to pay back the price of her purchase, while learning music, dance, elaborate costumes and cosmetics, and maintaining a fragile coiffure with a special pillow. With a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival she survives the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war.
A Cinderella romance that unexpectedly swept me away! Memoirs of a Geisha is a very picturesque and dramatic tale of a young village girl taken from her family and raised in Kyoto as a geisha. Usually I don't go in for romance. Don't get me wrong, I love love. But I prefer my love stories to be true. There is something immensely powerful about real love. As far as I've been able to discover, much of this story is based on the actual events of the life of former geisha Mineko Iwasaki. Why do I think so? She sued Golden for defamation of character. Apparently he included details she'd told him during their interviews that were not meant for print. Well, that's good enough for me! I was dazzled by the details and enchanted by the well-paced plot. It's not for everyone, but if you liked the movie version you shouldn't be disappointed by the book, being that the two are identical in most ways. Around the time I read Memoirs... I got the chance to visit Kyoto and made a point, as many tourists do, of seeking out the Gion District. The preservation of the area makes it worth the effort and cost of traveling in Japan. Almost medieval in its narrowness, the main historical road is a delight to behold, with its architecture and decor stuck in time as it is and the occasional geisha shuffling to and from buildings. I highly encourage a visit. Go when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Go see a tea ceremony. Just go. You'll be glad you did.
I first read this book in high school, and although I remember liking it, I don't think I was paying very much attention because I seriously thought the book was just about a bunch of Japanese hookers. But I reread it a few weeks ago, and I loved the story. Memoirs is about the life of this peasanth girl, Sayuri, in pre and postWW2 Japan who is sold into life as an apprentive Geisha, and then ultimately, an actual Geisha. The novel is full of these really great, vivid details of a variety of characters: gorgeous but evil rivals, the heinous older ladies who run the Geisha houses and practically enslave these girls, and the Geishas' patrons. Readers discover the world of the Geisha through the eyes of Sayuri, as she struggles to find her place in this society and at the same time, follow her heart (very cliche, I know, but I don't want to give away the story!). So the Geisha are women in Japan who are trained in the arts - playing music, dancing, acting, performing tea ceremonies, etc. They make their living entertaining wealthy Japanese men (business men, doctors, political
figures), usually in large groups, in tea houses. In pretty rare cases, some of the most popular Geisha undergo a binding ceremony where the geisha is hooked up for life with a Dannah- a very wealthy man who supports her and takes care of her, in exchange for intimacy with her. There are some pretty disgusting scenarios in the book where they just come off like highly-paid prostitutes, but for the most part, the girls in the book are very colorful, strong-willed, and interesting. It's just a very fascinating look into old Japanese culture.
Four years ago, my sister sent me this book out of the blue. I admit, I wasn't sure to begin with that I'd like it. Of course any book coming through your letter box is very welcome. I had no previous interest in Japan and it definitely isn't a novel I would have picked up on my own. Which just goes to prove what a hideous taste I have in books! Anyway, I thought I'd see what it was like... so I sat down on the sofa by the window and opened the first page thinking I'd just get a feel of it and see what the writing was like. I was reading another book at the time and had no intention whatsoever to sit down and read this book at the time. One sentence, one paragraph, one page later I was still reading it until it became one hour later and I was still sitting there by the window reading Memoirs of a Geisha. I polished it off in two to three days time and absolutely adored it. I have since bought my own copy of the book and would love to re-read it one of these days. I loved how it was written. As I said, I had no previous interest in Japan, but this did not seem to matter as he described everything so beautifully, without going over the top, in such a way that I could imagine everything with ease. I'm not sure how accurate the book is, I've heard certain criticisms. I like to think however, that as a work of fiction and not based on a true story as such, that this is not of any essential importance. If I wanted to really learn about geisha I would read a non-fiction.
Click Here to Download the Book