Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha

4.6 1638
by Arthur Golden
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1400096898

ISBN-13: 2901400096892

Pub. Date: 11/22/2005

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Memoirs of a Geisha is the sort of novel that novel-lovers yearn for, which is to say, so convincing that while reading it you become transported to another time, and other place, and feel you're listening and seeing with someone else's eats and eyes.' - Margaret Forster

Previously unavailable in hardback outside the USA, this remarkable novel has caught the

Overview

Memoirs of a Geisha is the sort of novel that novel-lovers yearn for, which is to say, so convincing that while reading it you become transported to another time, and other place, and feel you're listening and seeing with someone else's eats and eyes.' - Margaret Forster

Previously unavailable in hardback outside the USA, this remarkable novel has caught the imagination of millions of readers. It tells, as if in her own words, the extraordinary story of a geisha girl - a seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale. Summoning up more than twenty-five years of Japan's dramatic history, the novel opens a window onto a half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation.

Chiyo is born a fisherman's daughter in a village on the Sea of Japan, where she might have lived a drab and uneventful life - but for her startling grey eyes. In 1929, at the age of nine, she is sold into a kind of slavery as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. In the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto she discovers an alien world. This is the world where Hatsumomo, petite and deadly, is principal geisha; where Auntie, who looks like a knobbly bamboo pole, is kind but ineffectual; and pipe-smoking Mother controls them all like a repulsive spider from the center of her web.

Chiyo learns to be careful in her words, her actions and her choice of friends. Through petty miseries, farcical moments, great pain and one man's act of kindness, she begins her transformation into Sayuri, one of the most sought-after geisha of the Gion district. Her good fortune is to be taken on as 'younger sister' and apprentice by a successful geisha who teaches her the arts of her profession -n not only dancing and singing, but how to drape the kimono, how to apply the elaborate make-up, how to walk and talk and pour tea, how to beguile the most powerful men. But then war breaks out and, to survive, Sayuri must transform herself once more. Finally she takes a calculated risk which could mean disgrace, or the realization of an impossible dream - the tenuous hope that has kept her spirit intact and aloof, even from drunken patrons and the auction of her much-prized virginity.

Many years later, Sayuri tells her own story from the Walforf Astoria in New York, her tone controlled and ambivalent, funny and poignant, as she recaptures the exquisite scenes, behind the rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the age-old art of the geisha.

Arthur Golden's remarkably poised and beautifully written first novel brings this strange, exotic existence to the page as never before. Memoir of the Geisha grips the reader from the very first and leaves the unforgettable imprint of one woman's life at another time and in another place.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2901400096892
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/22/2005
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
Movie Tie-in
Pages:
503

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Memoirs of a Geisha 4.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 1638 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
StacieRosePittard More than 1 year ago
I first want to address a couple reviews I read before I purchased Memoirs of a Geisha, because I very nearly skipped this novel due to the content of these reviews. People were offended by the sexual content in this novel, and some even said that the author gave the impression that Geisha were more sexual than they really are. I disagree. Yes, there is a bit of sexual content, but it is in no way overwhelming, nor does it mislead readers to believe that Geisha are the same as prostitutes. If anything, the author of this book does a fantastic job of describing the art of the Geisha. I learned quite a bit about Geisha, and what they really do. I've always heard some people insist that a Geisha's job had nothing to do with sex, while others say that Geisha were no different from prostitutes. Both are wrong, and this book does a fantastic job of clarifying that balance. On top of that, it paints a wonderful picture of both the darker and brighter sides of a Geisha's life. It's not pure oppression, while at the same time it's not all rainbows and butterflies. I love that the author was honest in this portrayal, and kept his writing very respectful and open about a Geisha's life style. And finally, it was simply an interesting story. The characters were well developed and interesting to follow, and I found myself deeply connected to their experiences. It's a wonderful novel I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adore the film adaptation but it's like looking at the reflection of a flower compared to the tragic loveliness the novel portrays. While there are some cultural innacuracies that a concientious reader would do well to research (the very misunderstood mizuage ceremony specifically) it tells a simple and sad but ultimately peaceful story. If you liked the film you will love this even more!
JWalker27 More than 1 year ago
This book is written around the World War II era of Japan. Its written in fairly complex literature, with full English and Japanese names and locations. Its historacle fiction, whereas the events in the story took place but the people are for the most part fictional.

This story is about a young girl living in the country of Japan. She is taken away with her sister to be sold off to the Geisha market, where they will spend years learning how to entertain men for gifts and money. For the longest time she was thought to be a troublemaker and never to be a Geisha, but none could reject the fact that she was unique from everyone else in Japan, she had "mizu" or blue colored eyes.

After several years of being beaten by those that ran her Geisha house, of causing reckless mistakes, and of being plotted against on a regular basis by the most respectable Geisha in all of Japan, she became one of the most desired women in Japan.

She soon fell in love with a chairman, so she planned out how she could get to him. However, war broke out between Japan and the United States...
ana-gabriela More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha. It was an enjoyable read and the plot really intrigued the reader. The topic was interesting as well, because I am not knowledgeable in Japanese history or geisha. Though this was a fictional novel, it still gave me the idea of what it would have been like to have been a Japanese geisha. Golden did a spectacular job of telling the story. His use of language and the voice he gave to his characters made you believe that Sayuri and her friends were all real people. As you kept reading, you became attached to her silliness and watched her mature into a funny, beloved geisha. One of the things I loved about this story was Sayuri’s personality. Her foolishness got her into massive amounts of trouble. At one point in the story, all seemed lost. You got the feeling that Sayuri would never make it out, but she came back, stronger than ever. I love how in that moment, Golden gave you goose bumps, and made you feel as if you might lose Sayuri. Then, he gave us that moment of relief when all became well for her. He also snuck in a little lesson for Sayuri; she learned the importance of hard work and the satisfaction of earning something yourself. The story definitely showed the hard work done by her in order to become a geisha. One thing I did not like about Memoirs of a Geisha was some of the subject matter. Sex was a very prominent topic in the book; it was a common thing for a geisha to take part in. I feel that Golden’s elaborate descriptions made the reader uncomfortable. I just thought that Golden was a little too detailed. Overall, the account of Sayuri’s life was phenomenal. I believe that anybody can read this book, even if you know nothing about Japan. I think that once the book is opened, it will not be closed until your eye scans the very last word. From the moment you pick Memoirs of a Geisha up, you will be almost disappointed to know that Sayuri Nitta is only fiction.
anji24 More than 1 year ago
Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden does a wonderful job on talking an interview of a women and telling her story as a geisha. Nitta Sayuri tells her life on what it was like to be a geisha. Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, as a nine year-old with the most unusable blue-gray eyes. She was taking away from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Where women witness the transformation of a geisha and the arts of dance and music. Memoirs of a Geisha is a book with a lot of vivid metaphors, nature imagery, and other imagery and describe the feeling of the characters in the book. The memorable characters and what they face. What it is was like to be a geisha through Natti Sayuri eyes. This descriptive book has you wanting to read until you can't stop till the end. You will see differently about the Japanese culture and their history. Once you start to read you could hardly put the book down or even if you want to take a break because it's telling you about a person life. Read "Memoirs of a Geisha" and read the suspenseful, romantic, erotic and is completely unforgettable.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I couldn't put the book down honestly. It was so lovely and so enchanting I had to keep going until the end.
Mystearica More than 1 year ago
Hauntingly beautiful. Wonderfully written. A story to last more than just a single lifetime. This isn't simply about a geisha living during the early 20th century. Rather, this is the tale of a woman who is forced to accept a destiny she never expected to forgo. Chiyo is but a young girl when she is sold from her "tipsy" house in the fishing village of Yoroido to live in the geisha district of Gion, located in Kyoto. At first Chiyo yearns to do nothing more than find her sister, Satsu, and go home--but along the way she is met with heartache and deception. But, eventually, Chiyo realized her more mature self, Sayuri, loves her life in Gion. Sayrui herself grows into an alluring, popular geisha who trumps her adversaries with poised dignity, unmatched grace, and meticulous planning. Sayuri can't simply be described in a paragraph or two with just a ramble of pretty words. The best I can manage to describe her, however, is that she's  like an ethereal being who has touched the hearts of many throughout her lifetime. Many times I found myself wishing I could be like her in more ways than one--her tenacity and cunning are the stuff of legends, and--yes--her beauty makes many swoon. Plus, throughout her journey she holds onto the two things that many let slip through their fingers when they are still naive to the world--hopes and dreams. Sayuri holds onto the hope that she will one day see her family again, and dreams of the day of the one she loves the most will call her his own. As she grows older she breaks into her own in several different ways. In many ways, Sayuri is one of those epic characters who successfully steals a piece of your heart. It is safe to say that from this moment on, I will hold Memoirs of a Geisha close to my heart. Even when I'm as old as Sayuri at the end of the novel, I'll find myself re-reading this novel and dreaming of both a beautiful and heartbreaking time in cultural history--and reliving Chiyo's transformation and life as Sayuri all over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in paperback and fell in love with Sayuri and her vision of Gion. The narrative feels startlingly real, to the exent of my being surprised that Sayuri never truly existed. The language and word choice employed by Golden is so lucid and seductive that the book is near impossible to close once opened. While certainly racy at times, the book avoids straying into overly lurid territory, achieving a breathtakingly beautiful balance between sensuality and hardship. The absolutely hypnotic descriptions of kimonos, ceremonies, Gion, etcetera are amongst the most well-written and gaspingly lovely passages I have ever read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for elements of a historic documentary, a love story, and a search for identity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was better than the movie and the movie was exceptional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Golden does a wonderful job of blending the history of Japan from the 20's through the 50's through the eyes of one Geisha it is hard not to imagine him sitting in a teahouse in New York with a tape recorder and notepad at the feet of an aging Sayuri. Part history of Kyoto and all about the life and culture of the Geisha of Gion, it is a tale that draws you in from the first pages to its somewhat predictable conclusion. Being a realist I imagined the worse scenario befalling the heroine and in this tale it usually did, but for me the ending was not full of the terrible grief and loss that I had come to expect. A truly moving tale with memorable characters and imagery that will endure in my mind for years to come. Thanks for a great read, one of those rare books I couldn't put down and that leaves me a bit sad to return to the shelf. I started this journey on a rainy November afternoon in a small hotel room in Kyoto just across the river from Gion and steps from Pontocho. I finished it back home in Los Angeles, and as I read it here I found myself back in Japan side by side with Sayuri as she walked the streets I had so recently left behind. Thank you for taking me back to Kyoto so vividly and for giving me an even greater desire to return.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book Memoirs of a Geisha in some parts; but I also disliked it at other parts. I liked the fact that the author was very descriptive of colors and really described the scenery. Especially when he would write about the kimonos, he would describe it so that I felt that I had actually just seen the beautiful kimono with my own eyes. I did not like the fact that at some points in the book it would be very interesting and a lot would be going on but in a lot of other parts nothing seemed to be happening. There was a lot of detail about the daily life of Sayuri for a while which didn’t seem to be relevant to the story. One example was when Sayuri was a maid, there would be extensive detail about was her chores and how she was jealous of Pumpkin because she was in training to become a Geisha. I think that if I was not reading this for a school project I would of liked it even more. I tend to not like books as much when I’m reading it for an assignment as much as I would have if I was reading it on my own. If it wasn’t the book that I picked for my assignment then I probably would have picked it up anyway later on because the story sounds and is indeed a very interesting one. Before I read this book I knew nothing of Geisha, but now I know exactly what they are and what they do. I think that the audience that would most like this book would be patient people that can stand to read a lot of detail. Also people that like to learn about being a geisha back during World War Two. I would recommend this book and will most likely be reading it again sometime in the near future.
BookwormReflects More than 1 year ago
Memoirs of a Geisha By Arthur Golden In 1929 Sayuri’s mother has fallen ill and her father is no longer able to care for her and her older sister, she is soon sold to a representative of a geisha house in the Kyoto district. The she works as a maid and is trained in music and dance with hopes of becoming a geisha one day. But when she is caught trying to run away she is deemed too much of a risk to continue her training, until an accomplished Geisha decides to take her under her wing and teach her everything she knows to introduce her into the society. As she is an apprentice she comes across a man, the only man that had shown her kindness when she was a child, increasing her determination to become a Geisha and gain his approval. This is not only the story of a Geisha it is the story of Japan during the great depression and during world war two, beautifully written around the struggles of a woman who must work as hard as she can to support herself. The romance is flawless and the drama is poignant and breathtaking this was an amazing read. The movie that followed this book is one of my favorites, though the movie could not come close to the beauty within this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago. Ive never seen the movie but the book is sooooooo good!! A great buy believe me! Definately worth the money!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Looking for a good read that might make you cry, smile, then cry again? Get this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful easy read. I learned so much about the Japanese and geisha culture through this journey with Sayuri. I loved all the poetic metaphors told throughout the story as well. If you are looking for a light enjoyable read with love, struggles, triumphs, and all the emotions in between this book will not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wonderful book, so much better than the movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Memoirs of a Geisha' brings the cult of geisha to a vivid expose and new understanding of the geisha regimen and place in history. 'Memoirs of a Geisha' does all of this in a tender, gripping and enlightening manner for those of us in the unknowing of this aspect of Eastern culture. All the elements of human emotion come to the fore, leaving the reader with the paradox of sadness and joy, pleasure with pain, the rescue of an unknown person to the pinnacle of fame, at a high price. This heart rendering story is hauntingly beautiful. One cannot forget easily the geishas of history whose lives of servitude, regimen, and harsh discipline hinged on the whims of fancy and fortune in the power of men of varying degrees of stature. This is a 'must read' for those who, like myself, had misconceived knowledge of the underpinnings and the life of a geisha.
MichelleChung More than 1 year ago
This will always be a favorite of mine! Amazing I tell you! It's just amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great informative novel. It was great and the beginning and great at the end, but the middle was a but borning. However, I would reccomend this novel to anyone. It is a great.
hmin More than 1 year ago
a favorite. film and book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LadyJessica More than 1 year ago
Beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AP World History Review: a description of my opinion of the book I felt that Arthur Golden did a splendid job creating this whole other that completely differed from his own. Although he did not live the life of a geisha, he expressed what it would have been like from the eyes of a very likable woman. I believe he achieved his goal: to express how geisha aren't like how we as outsiders view them. They aren't prostitutes. They are a culture that have status and respect in the Japanese society. Many others who are on the outside looking in see them as dirty or vile, but in Japan they are great beauties. The author is trying to convey that in his book and I think he does it very well. Other than how well the author illustrated this culture, the book was quite good. the story line was very interesting and I fell in love with little Chiyo's story from the very beginning. We, as readers, had a chance to grow alongside her and see how she matured and developed into a beautiful woman. She was also very relatable. She made mistakes and was imperfect and she was emotionally scarred. I also greatly enjoyed her wit and humor, especially when others didn't understand it. The other characters were quite likable, even Granny. I think that because the story was told from Chiyo's perspective, we get a more personal look and get more invested in her story. This makes me like the book even more.
Madelynn_Jean More than 1 year ago
In this novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, the author, Arthur Golden, does an exceptional job of conveying his purpose of writing this through his extensive research and character development. After 3 complete revisions and over ten redrafts, Arthur Golden finally felt like Memoirs of a Geisha was ready to be seen worldwide. What many people don't know however, is that behind this bestselling novel, over twelve years of research and observation had taken place. Golden spent many years in Japan observing the culture and researching the World War Two history of Japan. Also, he was able to interview many geishas about their lives. While the acts that geishas do are typically considered as a private affair, many of the geishas were open and even welcome to Golden's questions because they were about their daily lives, opinions,and thoughts instead of their private actions. The captivating character development of the geishas in this story is what encouraged me most as the reader to finish it to the very end. By using the first person perspective it was very easy to get swept up into the story line of Chiyo through her trials and good times. It is certainly not an easy thing for a white man in his mid 30's to write in the perspective of a young, Japanese woman in a different time period, but Arthur Golden does it seamlessly. In all honesty, I did not even know that this book was written by a man until I was halfway through the book! His keen insight and observations of his characters really made this book be the standout success that it was! I would easily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in an intriguing, raw, and candid story of a girl's journey through all walks of life. Through the terrible times to those of great love and passion, Memoirs of a Geisha was a story I am not likely to forget.