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Book Review: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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It is said that the best part about being in a book-club is that you get to read books that you normally wouldn’t have picked on your own. I  am definitely glad that my book-club selected Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden as one of our reads last year. We have read a number of interesting books as a club but to-date, this remains my favorite one.

It’s always interesting to see a man write a woman’s story. I remember when I read, Adultery by Paulo Coelhohttps://ahavenforbooklovers.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/adultery-by-paulo-coelho/ , there were many instances when I felt that the woman’s voice was lost. I couldn’t relate to or even understand the character of the protagonist. Nothing resonated with me. However, Arthur Golden did a really good job with Memoirs of a Geisha. The book was written in the Geisha’s voice which was quite captivating as the author managed to draw readers into the life of geishas, the gruesome training, hopes and dreams of this intricate world not open to outsiders.

The protagonist  is a young Japanese girl, Chiyo. She grew up in poverty in small fishing village. Chiyo was intelligent and is described as being beautiful with captivating gray eyes. She has a sister, Satsu who on the other hand is described as being plain. A man offers to adopt Chiyo and her sister but instead sells them into slavery. Due to her looks, Chiyo is sold into a home of geishas known as an Okiya where she becomes Nitta Sayuri. Satsu is however sold into prostitution.

Sayuri is trained on becoming a geisha, she learns to dance, sing, participate in tea ceremonies and hold entertaining conversations. She learns about dressing like a geisha(in fancy kimonos), wearing the right makeup and flirting with men. As readers, we learn about the culture and practices of geisha’s whereby virginity is auctioned. We also learn about men who  collect virginity(sounds bizarre, I know) and carry proof of all the women that they have ‘deflowered’. Arthur Golden does a good job of painting a vivid description of not just the geisha world but also nuances of the Japanese culture.
Memoirs of a Geisha by  Arthur Golden is fast paced and very hard to put down.Admittedly, the author takes time in providing detailed descriptions of everything so this slows down the pace a bit but still, the plot moves fast and easily. It has everything that makes a thrilling read. It has drama in the form of a bitter rivalry between Sayuri and another Geisha, Hatsmumo. It’s interesting to read about the extremities that the girls go into in the competition. The reader will keep guessing just how far Hatsmumo will go to keep Sayuri from becoming a successful Geisha. It is also intriguing to find out whether Sayuri  realizes her dreams especially with all the obstacles on her way. There are suspenseful love triangles. Sayuri falls in love with Chairman who does not seem to even notice her. Nobu-San, the man who looks like a monster but has a heart of gold falls in-love with Sayuri but well, as all love stories go, Sayuri is in love with the seemingly unattainable man.

Arthur Golden in Memoirs of a Geisha creates an entertaining plot full of twists. Some readers describe the book as a fairy tale, the beautiful princess is Sayuri, Nobu-San is the ogre, Hatsmumo is the evil witch and of course every fairy-tale has a prince, Chairman. Oh and by the way, there is an evil step-mother in the tale. However you choose to describe it, Memoirs of a Geisha is a fascinating read. It’s the kind of book whose memory will continue to linger on, long after you turn the last page.

Here is a link to other reviews about the bookhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397535/

There is a movie too based on the book http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/666-memoirs-of-a-geisha-golden?start=2


7 comments on “Book Review: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

  1. nessa shera
    February 3, 2016

    I loved both the book and the movie…!..Hatsmumo..was evil…but I think Chiyo’s chubby geisha friend was worse when they grew up…

    • Diana
      February 3, 2016

      So true Nessa. Pumkin became worse than Hatsmumo i think. I only got to watch the movie last month and I loved it too. The cinematography(hope that is what is called, the pictures, setting etc) was really good.

  2. Peris Yula
    February 21, 2016

    Reblogged this on Literati.

    • Diana
      February 22, 2016

      Thank you for reblogging 🙂

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2016 by in Book Review and tagged , , , , .
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