An Old Favorite: Memoirs of a Geisha

MyFavoriteReads4I like thinking about the books I’ve spent time with. Usually my favorites are those where I felt mentally and emotionally involved with the characters. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is that kind of book.

Synopsis from Library Journal:

geisha“I wasn’t born and raised to be a Kyoto geisha….I’m a fisherman’s daughter from a little town called Yoroido on the Sea of Japan.” How nine-year-old Chiyo, sold with her sister into slavery by their father after their mother’s death, becomes Sayuri, the beautiful geisha accomplished in the art of entertaining men, is the focus of this fascinating first novel. Narrating her life story from her elegant suite in the Waldorf Astoria, Sayuri tells of her traumatic arrival at the Nitta okiya (a geisha house), where she endures harsh treatment from Granny and Mother, the greedy owners, and from Hatsumomo, the sadistically cruel head geisha. But Sayuri’s chance meeting with the Chairman, who shows her kindness, makes her determined to become a geisha. Under the tutelage of the renowned Mameha, she becomes a leading geisha of the 1930s and 1940s. After the book’s compelling first half, the second half is a bit flat and overlong. Still, Golden, with degrees in Japanese art and history, has brilliantly revealed the culture and traditions of an exotic world, closed to most Westerners.

Why it’s a favorite:

As you can see from the synopsis, this is the kind of book that is a completely different world from the one I normally inhabit. But that’s the magic of reading. Peeking inside a geisha’s life was an eye-opener for me. I know it’s fiction but it felt so real. I hurt for the little girl who was treated in such a cruel manner. And, I was fascinated by costumes and rituals of the geishas. It satisfied my inner peeping-Tom, but it was also a well written and engrossing tale.

I highly recommend this book, if you haven’t already read it. Check your library or used book store or, it’s now in paperback at Amazon.

My Favorite Reads is sponsored by Alyce of At Home With Books. Visit her for more favorite reads.

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12 Responses to An Old Favorite: Memoirs of a Geisha

  1. Beth F says:

    I had the same experience with the novel. I had to keep telling myself that it was fiction. The characters and settings were very real to me. The book was so much better than movie.

  2. Absolutely loved this book. I can’t believe Arthur Golden hasn’t written any more.

  3. I never read this, but always have wanted to. It does sound really fascinating. I’ve read other books detailing the feet thing, and it’s hard to read about!

  4. Tami says:

    I haven’t read this one yet. I had marked it off as one that might take too much emotional involvement, but now you’ve got me interested. Thanks for the review.

  5. Heather J. says:

    I loved this book as well. Have you seen the movie? I thought it was a very good adaptation.

  6. Alyce says:

    I really liked this one too. I’ve heard that some folks didn’t care for the movie, but I really liked it and thought it was pretty faithful to the story in the book. Of course, like almost all adaptions, I prefer the book over the movie.

  7. Kathy says:

    This is a great pick. My whole family loved this book!

  8. Ti says:

    I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha. This is one of the few books that I recommend over and over again and have never had any negative feedback on. I wonder if the author will come out with another book soon. Memoirs was his first.

  9. I really loved this book too. Is it true that the author never wrote anything else? A friend loaned me a book by the real last Geisha upon whom Memoirs was supposedly based. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was very interesting as a follow-up. (Not the good writing but very much in agreement with the story.) I’ll try to find out the name of it; I read it quite a while ago.

  10. Stacy says:

    I’ve only seen the movie and while it was okay (for me) it didn’t make me want to go out and get the book. Sounds like I should have started with the book 🙂

  11. Nicole says:

    I loved reading this one and then getting to see the visuals of the movie after.

  12. Jenners says:

    That is what I get for reading your blog “backwards” (I’m trying to get caught up and reading from oldest post to newest). This was such a good book, wasn’t it? It was outside my usual interests but I really enjoyed it.

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