Customer Reviews for

Memoirs of a Geisha

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

Beautifully written....a must read.

This book was amazing and a beautiful read. It felt like Chiyo and Sayuri were right next to me telling the story of their lives. Beautifullly witten. This book engulfs the reader in its own world and even the most relunctant readers will find that they can't put this b...
This book was amazing and a beautiful read. It felt like Chiyo and Sayuri were right next to me telling the story of their lives. Beautifullly witten. This book engulfs the reader in its own world and even the most relunctant readers will find that they can't put this book down. I told my friend who only read a book once in a while and she finished the book in about 4 days. The story pulls your heart strings and you will hold your breath to find out what happens next. It is one of those books that when you hear its name again you immediately smile and say what a good book it was. You'll find yourself reccommending it to all your friends and family.

posted by 444716 on November 25, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

Very Disappointing

The author is a fantastic writer. He has the ability to transport you into a different era and place. I feel like I have strolled the streets of Gion and visited the tea houses of Kyoto. However, the story was much longer then it needed to be and it lacked something I c...
The author is a fantastic writer. He has the ability to transport you into a different era and place. I feel like I have strolled the streets of Gion and visited the tea houses of Kyoto. However, the story was much longer then it needed to be and it lacked something I can put my finger on. The ending a unsatisfactory. Sayuri the most selfish person you'll ever meet, after all Nobu has done for her.

posted by Magdalena25 on January 13, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    I found this book enjoyable, yet a bit slow.

    Well written, yet I found myself looking forward to finishing this book. I was a bit disappointed after all the hype.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    Informative of History/Culture, But Not Recommended for Younger Age Groups

    Originally, I did not know much of geisha other than they were entertainers, usually of dance. So, Memoirs of a Geisha was intriguing because of my limited knowledge of geisha. I did learn that geisha lead much more complicated lives than it would first appear, especially since they have little control over their fate. Not only do they live a certain lifestyle intertwined in Japanese culture, they are highly trained in many forms of art (music, customs, and conversation) and are the ultimate entertainer. I had no idea, but I certainly enjoy having a better understanding of a geisha.
    While the book gave me some exposure to Japanese society, I also found it interesting that the author chose to incorporate historical aspects in the story, as well. Specifically, I was fascinated that some of the same things (rationing and giving up things for the war effort) that the United States experienced during the Depression years were so similar. Still, certain stereotypes in interaction of the characters (military leaders being portrayed as uncaring and soldiers giving out candy to children after the war) are evident in the author's presentation of the story.
    On the other hand, while I realize that the book is written from the perspective of a memoir, I did not particularly enjoy the storyline. Sayuri, the main character, is constantly demoralized and portrayed as a victim of cruelty, jealousy, and misery throughout the book. Although a victim of circumstances, for the most part, she is also cunning and spiteful whenever the opportunity presents itself. This did not sit well for me.
    Although parts of the book were obviously interesting, specifically the historical perspective, I would not necessarily recommend this book to other students my age (14). The storyline, as I pointed out, is not appealing to guys, in particular, and there are too many instances of "cat fights" in the cathouses. Not to mention the sexual encounters that added little to the story, which the geisha want to dispel in any case. I would rather the author had concentrated more on the training of the geisha, perhaps more of the dance styles during that period, as well as the art of conversation and manners. More importantly, I would have better enjoyed the book if it had the element of surprise, especially if the Japanese general had become loose-lipped during a tea ceremony and divulged some war secrets during his time spent with Sayuri. All said, it would have been much more entertaining than reading about the mizuage ritual.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2010

    Long Read and a Disappointing Love Story

    When I finally convinced myself to read this book I found it difficult to finish. The love story within this novel was minimal and disappointing. Between Sayuri and the Chairman there is hardly any interaction at all until the last chapter. I found it was a disappointing finish to a long story that is considered to be a romance. It also annoyed me how Sayuri treats Nobu after all he had done for her. However, even though I found the love story less than desirable, the way the author describes the life of a geisha and the surroundings in Kyoto was beautiful and captivating. He really has a gift of transporting the reader into another time and culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    flowing read, disappointing material

    this book moves along at a fast pace with a lyrical writing style and interesting subjects. i was, however, disappointed by the material in mr. golden's story. although this book may satisfy the hunger for adventure and a good read, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2006

    Airport bookshop fodder

    So it's an easy read, well researched on the subject of geisha life but inadequate on social background or life in 30's Japan or men. Perhaps being a bloke doesn't help - petty bickering between the girls and pursuit of the love of her life had the same effect on me as several tumblers of sake (so I'm led to believe)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2006

    Slightly Disappointing

    I bought this book with the perception that it was going to be absolutely brilliant, and I was quiet disappointed. It did not live up to its reputation. This novel was great at times, but for the most part it was dull and much, much longer than it needed to be. It wasn't a complete waste of time, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    Flimsy

    Memoirs of a Geisha brings you to the edge of tears that never quite manage to fall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2006

    Repeat The Color Purple

    I would like to say it helped open my understanding that Class is associated with being a Geisha and respect as it came into a childhood quickly lost sold by parents loss to a ring of slavery where the character had no control and was at a loss to herself, and had no idea the price that was paid or earned by her choice to stay. Compeating rivals just be the best whatever the condition survive. Looking for the long lost sister kept the book open. What happended to and where is the sister. Deeply about just being a woman and making choices to be taken care of by means of choice of man you join a fame raise the stakes don't expect romance. I expected more. DEPRESSING

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2005

    Brings lot´s of misinterpretations

    Well this book seems to make people think gesiha´s are prostitutes, but we have to remember it is a western book about asian topics, it´s not the same a western prostitute concept to the japanese prostitute concept. Also geishas are a whole subculture that has to be studied, this book wont explain all about the floating world of Geishas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2006

    An ok read

    This book was very interesting to begin with. I couldn't put it down for a while in the middle of it. But then the spark went out. It almost seemed like the author got tired of his own work. The ending was just kind of blah.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2005

    Good....until

    This book was VERY good up until Memeha hatched her little 'plan' to get rid of Hatsumomo then it got...disgusting all they talked about was Sayuri's 'Cave' and the 'Eel' it made me want to throw up! For that reason I am not going to reccomend this book to ANYONE because they will be just as disgusted as I was. I am a fifteen year old boy and I saw the movie preview and thought it looked like a good movie based on a supposedly 'good' book so I went and cheked it out, Its written by a man so I thought it wouldn't be to feminene and so I bought it and at first I read and read because it was so good....then they have to make it disgusting by talking again and again about Sayuri sleeping with the Doctor and the General and constantly being touched there etc. All in all I would not read this book even thought the first 15 or 16 chapters are good, you would have to be a total pervert to want to keep reading about the 'caves' and the 'eels'... its disgusting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2006

    Not what I expected

    It was very well written. But this is not a memoir by any means. I understand that it is based on fact, but it doesn't flow well as a memoir. I hope the movie is better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2005

    Not a fairytale!!

    I just got finished reading this book & all I can say was it was o.k. To me there were some parts that were boring and difficult to read. The movie looks like it will be better and more entertaining. For once I think the movie will be better than the book. I was just expecting it to have a happy ending and to me it did not. I just thought Sayuri's life would get better. She would beat the odds but she didn't. Maybe in a way but no one wants to be a mistress. I was kinda of disappointed in this book. Some things were described very well and some things were described too well. You'll know what I am talking about if you read it. I say skip the book watch the movie. It will save you time and you will probably enjoy it better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2005

    Waiting for the movie

    Even though I thought Memoirs was difficult to read, I enjoyed it and cannot wait for the movie. I think the movie will turn out better than the book. This book did not immediately 'hook' me, but the story itself is great. If you haven't read it yet, and are wondering what the fuss is about, wait for the movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2004

    very predictable, but an interesting read

    If this is the best book you ever read, then you really need to read more. I read this because I was going to Kyoto and wanted to learn a little about the culture. I have to admit that it did keep me reading, but I was left with a lot of unanswered questions. My overall reaction to the book was of intense sadness for this young girl who was forced into a life of prostitution. And there is no way to argue that it is anything else. What I found so lacking was that Sayuri never seemed to feel the anger that I felt on her behalf for the life she was forced into. The story that I think would have been more interesting would have been what happened to her sister who ran away. Then when the war came and shut down the geisha business, I was so hoping that Sayuri would realize that she was finally free and would create a new future for herself. Unfortunately, all I got was a tired, trite 'Prince Charming saves the day' ending (BIG let-down). I am left wondering whether this is a truly accurate portrayal of geisha life, or a la The Da Vinci Code, the author made up a lot of 'facts'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2003

    great but not my favorite

    I liked it a lot but there was just something about it that made me feel like there was something missing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2003

    Time pass

    No doubt the work is good but somehow I felt that something is amiss. Some parts are more interesting than others. The scope of the subject was such that it could have been made more interesting. For instance, the author has described the beauty of kimonos in great detail, but frankly, that elusive feminine touch is direly missing. It cannot be called a classic because it is soulless, but paradoxically, the reader will not be able to forget it soon, because the subject matter is somewhat hazy and stepped in secrecy as the race itself. The author has contrived to join unrelated topics and mingle them together to present a seamless picture; but not very successfully. The main protagonist is in-fact a jumble of distinct characters made to look as one. Still a good read but on no account a splendid work!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Where's My Gun?

    I gave this book three stars for the author's writing ability, but would have otherwise scored it lower. The first 100 pages or so were so unrelentingly bleak that I wanted to end it all rather than keep reading in hopes of reaching the first moment of relief! This book made Olan's life seem like a summer of ice-cream cones!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    Memoirs of a Reader

    Okay. The world Golden introduces us to is undoubtedley interesting. The daily routines and social conventions of a geisha fascinate because they belong to a culture totally foreign to ours. What's more, Golden has certainly done a detailed job of research. As a glimpse into an exotic, practically vanished world, the book is effective. But the novel itself, the dramatic thrust, with it's trite love story and it's blandified theme of having the courage to 'follow one's destiny' exposes Golden both as a first time novelist, and as a westerner awkwardly grasping an eastern ideology he understands only superficially. The result is a fancy rendering of 'may the force be with you' and 'wax-on/wax-off Daniel son,' and any other bits of re-hashed eastern 'wisdom' that pass themselves off as profound morsels. To be fair, Golden's evocation of the rarefied world is at times quite elegant, even peaceful, and there are some beautiful images. But when he can no longer rely on research and has to use his own imagination and skill to drive the puppy home, you quickly to get the impression that he has little to say. If you want my advice, read a great novel about a woman's struggle for her spiritual freedom: Anna Karenina. Otherwise, time must you not waste with this simplistic stuff, my child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2000

    The list of credits was too short...

    Mr. Golden knows how to write properly and has some knowledge of the Geisha world, but he is more than anything else benefiting from the lack of English translations of 'real' memoirs of geishas. By comparison with INOUE Yuki's 'Kuruwa no Onna' (see details in my reading list below) or ARIYOSHI Sawako 's 'Koge' , Mr. Golden's book looks very pale, both as regards the details and insight about life in Gion, and also in the way the story of a poor young girl sold to an Okiya and becoming top-class geisha is told. It is in particular when Mr. Golden's book becomes poorer (from the war years on), that the comparison with Ariyoshi's book (first published in 1965) shows the distance between a Hollywood-prone story told by a Westerner and a novel from a Japanese women who actually endured the war.

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