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Memoirs of a Geisha Mass Market Paperback – Nov 22 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (Nov. 22 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400096898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400096893
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 2.8 x 17.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,791 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #428,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

According to Arthur Golden's absorbing first novel, the word "geisha" does not mean "prostitute," as Westerners ignorantly assume--it means "artisan" or "artist." To capture the geisha experience in the art of fiction, Golden trained as long and hard as any geisha who must master the arts of music, dance, clever conversation, crafty battle with rival beauties, and cunning seduction of wealthy patrons. After earning degrees in Japanese art and history from Harvard and Columbia--and an M.A. in English--he met a man in Tokyo who was the illegitimate offspring of a renowned businessman and a geisha. This meeting inspired Golden to spend 10 years researching every detail of geisha culture, chiefly relying on the geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who spent years charming the very rich and famous.

The result is a novel with the broad social canvas (and love of coincidence) of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen's intense attention to the nuances of erotic maneuvering. Readers experience the entire life of a geisha, from her origins as an orphaned fishing-village girl in 1929 to her triumphant auction of her mizuage (virginity) for a record price as a teenager to her reminiscent old age as the distinguished mistress of the powerful patron of her dreams. We discover that a geisha is more analogous to a Western "trophy wife" than to a prostitute--and, as in Austen, flat-out prostitution and early death is a woman's alternative to the repressive, arcane system of courtship. In simple, elegant prose, Golden puts us right in the tearoom with the geisha; we are there as she gracefully fights for her life in a social situation where careers are made or destroyed by a witticism, a too-revealing (or not revealing enough) glimpse of flesh under the kimono, or a vicious rumor spread by a rival "as cruel as a spider."

Golden's web is finely woven, but his book has a serious flaw: the geisha's true romance rings hollow--the love of her life is a symbol, not a character. Her villainous geisha nemesis is sharply drawn, but she would be more so if we got a deeper peek into the cause of her motiveless malignity--the plight all geisha share. Still, Golden has won the triple crown of fiction: he has created a plausible female protagonist in a vivid, now-vanished world, and he gloriously captures Japanese culture by expressing his thoughts in authentic Eastern metaphors. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. Highly recommended.
-?Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That afternoon when I met so-and-so ... was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fanny on March 11 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. It is tied for the best and favorite with McCrae’s explosive, funny, and shocking “A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens.” Memoirs of A Geisha is a wonderful book that captivates the reader from page one. My only disappointment with the book is that it wasn't longer. When's the last time THAT happened to you? The book was 428 pages I wish it could have been 1,000.

Also, I read the book too quickly. It is a book that people should read a chapter at a time, reflect, and read the next chapter the next day. But, unfortunately, a book this good will never allow you to put it down.

Memoirs of a Geshia takes a look at a girl who is stolen from her home at age 9 and sold. She is abused, ridiculed, and humiliated throughout her journey. She has to learn the many skills of becoming a Geisha. It is a book that is truly excellent and wonderful. It is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I would only recommend this book to more mature audiences. It does contain some graphic and sexually paragraphs. However, these paragraphs add to the theme and the events of the book. Without them, you have a different book. It is truly a wonderful novel and these areas and themes only add to it. You must, must, must also try the “Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens” for another look into another world—this time, the Southern United States as you’ve never seen them before!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas P. Murphy on Nov. 12 2008
Format: Paperback
Arthur Golden spent a fair amount of time researching this book, speaking to geishas whose stories in one form or another appear here. The book basically presents the biography of one geisha who through often very harsh events in her life transforms herself from the daughter of a fisherman into one of the most famous geishas of Japan. Both she and her sister are thrown into geisha houses to be taught this profession although her sister falls quickly into misfortune. Geisha houses demand strict discipline and service and have firm hierarchies that allow the use of power either purposefully or with cruelty. Jealousies and rivalries threaten the course of this woman. Once she achieves her goal, there remain tough decisions about whom she will serve. Economics and survival prevail over personal preferences and sentiment. The stability of her career is precarious as numerous events threaten to destroy it as they have for other geishas who are then often dragged into lives of prostitution. The intrusion of WWII presents other unexpected challenges and compromises to cope with shortages and lean times. A vivid and captivating book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on Jan. 5 2004
Format: Hardcover
Im Japanese, I was born in Japan, and still am very familiar with the language. So throughout the years I have come across the word Geisha, and I took high interest in this book. I have been told that Geisha were prostitutes but my Japanese mother begged a differ and recommended this book for me. It takes place in a little fishing village on the sea of Japan called "Yoroido" Chiyo-san is the youngest of a fisherman's daughter, she was very unique for she had these breath-taking gray-blue eyes. Her older sister Satsu wasnt anything to look at. Their mother was dying and there father was in no condition to raise children alone. So a wealthy man by the name of Ichiro Tanaka, persuaded their father to sell the girls. Chiyo was sold to an Okiya where geisha were trained and lived and Satsu was sold to a whore house. The girls loose contact with eachother, and lived on their lives as they were bought for. Chiyo went to school for she was in training to be a Geisha. Satsu ran away from the whore house and is never seen or heard of ever again. As the years pass, Chiyo turns into this beautiful young apprentice geisha and she even falls in love with the wealthy chairman of Iwamura electric company, but geisha are not allowed to have husbands or boyfriends, unless they buy that geisha. This whole story is told through her eyes, and all the hardships she goes through in order to become a geisha. She didnt have a choice whether or not she could or could not be a geisha, she was forced. Geisha are "artisan" they entertain a crowd of men through dancing and playing their shamisen which is a japanese guitar. She has an older sister geisha who looks after her and teaches her more about entertaining men, that was Mameha. She makes Chiyo into a Geisha whos name turns into Sayuri.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darlene TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 14 2011
Format: Audio CD
This book by Arthur Golden has been on my "To Be Read" list for a long time! I thought the narrator, Bernadette Dunne, did a beautiful job. I think I enjoyed this book much more hearing it than reading it, as I could hear the names and words spoken in the way that they were meant to be. I have always been fascinated with other cultures, so this book was a real treat.

The book is about a young girl, Sayuri, who is sold into slavery to a geisha house in Gion, Japan. As she gets older, she must learn the geisha ways and traditions of the geisha, including: the tea ceremony, how to wear the kimono, the elaborate hair and make-up, the dancing.

The writing was beautiful, and I was totally captivated by this story.

My rating: 4.5 stars!!
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