I 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:
“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.