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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read
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...
Published on March 11 2006 by Fanny

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3.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate portrayal, but written to please the reader
So everyone has talked and talked the life out of this book. And I myself have read it more than once. However, there is a lot of inaccuracy and since it is my culture I may notice it more than others. I think it is perhaps worth noting that the author is a very young individual and may not have grasped the true japanese culture or moreover the even more complex and...
Published on Jan. 2 2006


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read, March 11 2006
By 
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Geishas are not Prostitutes, Jan. 5 2004
By 
Andrea (Boise, Id USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (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. Sayuri's virginity is sold to the highest bidder and then a man buys her for solo personal night time hours in exchange that he pays for all of her expenses. These are just a few experiences that she has to face in order to become a success. Throughout her years of becoming a geisha Sayuri grows old and is known as one of the best Geisha known in Japan. Japan was not doing so well economically where abouts in the US they were rising. So Sayuri decides to move to the US and own her own teahouse. Every chapter of this book is suspensful, it was intense, i felt terrible for her having her viriginty sold and when her whole family was taken away from her before her eyes. But im very hopeful that she does get to know what love feels like and that she finds happiness in the end. Thats just a fast easy to follow summary on "Memoirs of a geisha." And please do not think Geisha's are prostitutes for they are graceful entertainers, that are trained to dance and sing, they set the meaning of beauty in Japanese history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Will Feel The Emotion, March 25 2006
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Paperback)
"Memoirs of a Geisha" is a stunning novel. It is an emotional event from start to finish and absolutely stunningly beautiful even in moments of dark pain. In terms of quality of story and writing, you'd have to compare it to books "The Kite Runner" and "My Fractured Life." This a really one book that you should read because you will feel it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, captivating story!, June 14 2011
By 
Darlene (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the fine print, April 20 2007
By 
Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Paperback)
This book has been sitting on my "to be read" shelf for a long time, mainly because the teeny tiny little print that fills the pages to within half a centimeter of the edge filled me with trepidation at the apparently insurmountable task ahead. Fortunately, I took the coward's way out and watched the movie first, and this gave me the boost I needed to get started. Watching the movie first allowed me to put faces to the names, and to witness almost firsthand the intricacies of the rituals that are so intimately described in the book.

Suffice to say that I was completely captivated from Chapter one, and was even reluctant to put it down at the end. The novel tells the story of a young Japanese girl named Chiyo who is taken from her village in the 1930s and sent to Gion, to an okiya or geisha house. Her sister Satsu is also taken, but lacking Chiyo's striking beauty, she is sent to a house of ill repute. At first Chiyo dreams of finding Satsu and running away from Gion, but later realizes that this is never going to happen.

The resident geisha at her okiya is a jealous and arrogant woman named Hatsumomo, who sabotages Chiyo's progress towards becoming a geisha herself, leaving Chiyo in the unenviable position of being a maid for the rest of her life. Fortunately for Chiyo, a chance encounter with a wealthy businessman (known as the Chairman) opens new doors for her and this brief meeting changes the course of her life forever.

Soon, Hatsumomo's rival, an extremely popular and successful geisha named Mameha decides to take Chiyo under her wing as her little sister, and after the usual haggling over fees and royalties is completed, Chiyo finally gets her chance to continue her geisha training. An intense and vicious rivalry develops between the geisha "tag teams" of Hatsumomo and her trainee Pumpkin, and Mameha and Chiyo, who then assumes the geisha name Sayuri.

With the threefold purpose of defeating Hatsumomo, winning a wager, and paying off Sayuri's debts, Mameha orchestrates a bidding war between rich men for the apparently acceptable privilege of deflowering her young apprentice, the financial results of which set a new record in geisha history at the time.

Just when things seem to be settling down nicely, two events shatter the relative calm, and Sayuri finds herself torn emotionally by the reappearance of the Chairman, and then later, mentally and physically by the outbreak of World War II. After the War, she goes back to being a geisha, but has to choose between following her heart and following what seems to be the obvious path.

The film and the novel are different in several sections, even down to the ending, but of course the book provides a lot of important background information that could not be captured in the movie version, even though I'm not sure of the historical accuracy. I would strongly recommend them BOTH to anyone who is not familiar with the amazing gilded world of Geisha.

Amanda Richards
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Insights into a Unique Lifestyle, June 15 2006
By 
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Paperback)
Although the book is fiction, it is so well written and researched that it feels real. The reader is introduced to a young girl aged nine who lives in a fishing village, called Yoroida, on the Sea of Japan. Her mother is ill, it turns out with cancer, and her father is a simple man, a man who works hard to make ends meet and provide a livlihood for his wife and two daughters. They live in a house that is described as "tipsy" because it sits near a cliff, where the winds blow so hard it make the house appear crooked. The story is told from the perspective of Chiyo, who became a beautiful reknowned Geisha in the city of Kyoto. Early in her training she encounters an important gentleman who gives her his handkerchief during a particularly low period in her initiation. He later plays an important role in her career and life. She remembers his kindness to her throughout her training and even after becoming a full-fledged geisha, she hopes to meet him again. She does meet him during some important functions yet, he indicates no recognition of her. Only after surviving many hardships during World War II and its aftermath, does she dare speak of the past to him and then he reveals many truths to her ... Besides being an autobiography of an important geisha, the book is about survival, the indomitable human spirit. It is about romance and the strong bonds of love which survive despite many changes ... all set within the unique culture of Japan.

Not long after her mother dies, Chiyo is visited by Mr. Tanaka, a local fish factory owner. He takes an interest in her well-being and it is to him she owes a debt for having saved her life ... He had been an orphan, who later inherited the fish factory from his adopted parents. He saw a very bleak future for Chiyo and her sister unless someone intervened. He arranged for them to travel to Kyoto and enter training as geisha. Although Chiyo is separated from her sister, she managed to visit her, despite threats of dire consequences if caught during her training. The reader learns, the life style of geisha is not just about flower-arranging, serving tea, playing musical instruments, dancing for a patron or wearing exotic silk kimono outfits. It is about meeting certain expectations to please a sponsor, called a 'danna', who pays all her life style expenses voluntarily. In fact, he is the highest bidder - all for the privilege and honor of paying her expenses, for which certain expectations are his reward. Specific aspects of the geisha lifestyle are kept secret and mysterious. There are strict behavioral and honor codes ... protocols ... expectations ... and monetary gifts.

The whole book is a fascinating reading experience which shows the rigorous training, the cultural initiation and induction of a poor fisherman' daughter into one of the most hidden and secretive lifestyles of Japan. The reader learns to appreciate the spectacular and subtle behavior which is expected of a geisha. The behavioral and honor code is very strong ... it plays a unique role in the Japanese society. What is most interesting is how the people who accept this unique cultural role deal with the social, community and national implications of this life. The reader is drawn into recognizing how the role is natural in its particular setting ... Japan. There are many different reflections of feeling and thoughts about the role embedded within the fabric of the society in which it was born. The book is an artistic masterpiece in how the geisha lifestyle in all its myriad of aspects is revealed for the modern reader to understand and explore. This is a most highly recommended book. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic as it is Believable, Jan. 10 2006
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Paperback)
What a beautiful first novel. Expressing such a captivating and real world such as that of the Geisha, in a made up girls life- well I dont think it could've been written much better. The lead, Sayuri (Formerly Chiyo) is a raw character with passion like any other girl. Her thoughts are poetic and her description of what she sees is intriguing as it is believable. Listening to your heart is not easy, and the book expresses this with such visual that you can feel Sayuri's pain and range of emotions well. Characters like Hatsumomo, Mameha and Pumpkin are brilliant!
The book is smooth, though starting slowly it quickly spills into a seductive wrath and you cannot help but turn page and page until your finished reading. At that point you only crave more and the heavy realization that there will be no sequel fills you with disapointment.
That is the only sadness I got from this book: that it had finshed. Thankfully, if you didn't already know - a movie has been produced even though movies cannot compare to books.
I would reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in reading, Japanese culture, or if your slightly curious. It wont disapoint, and even if it does slightly at least you'll walk away with some knowledge of the Geisha.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate portrayal, but written to please the reader, Jan. 2 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Paperback)
So everyone has talked and talked the life out of this book. And I myself have read it more than once. However, there is a lot of inaccuracy and since it is my culture I may notice it more than others. I think it is perhaps worth noting that the author is a very young individual and may not have grasped the true japanese culture or moreover the even more complex and mysterious nature of the ancient geisha culture. How could he, when most of the Japanese population in Japan have a difficult time understanding this traditional, sacred and often misinterpreted world of geishas.
Sadly, the movie has not fared well either. With english?! dialogue and a strange, exagerated, more like a noh-type dance with added puple lighting instead of the slow, poised movements of a real geisha's dance. Although the cast are all quite talented and beautiful to watch, I wonder about the casting itself...
All in all, it was an enjoyable book...until I realized some of the inaccuracies and how such inaccuracies could be regarded as insulting to a culture. But read it for yourself, you may like it, you may not. But either way, it will open your eyes to an artform like no other!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One Excellent Novel!, July 3 2005
By 
Joy Davis (Brookfield, WI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Hardcover)
Memoirs of a Geisha is an extraordinary and lovely novel. It tells the story of Sayuri, a geisha from Kyoto's golden age. It is written as a memoir dictated to a friend of hers who begins by telling us how he came to know this woman.
The main portion of the book begins with Sayuri's childhood, at a time when she lives not in Kyoto, but in a small fishing village called Yoroido. At the time, her name is not Sayuri, but Chiyo. As a child, her mother becomes terminally ill. When she finally succumbs, Chiyo and her older sister end up being sent off to Kyoto. In Kyoto, they are sent to separate places. Her sister is sent to a brothel. She is sent to a geisha house.
Up til this point, the book has been fairly ordinary, but at this point, it becomes extraordinary. Here, we begin to view the day to day life in the world of the Kyoto geishas. In here we see the training school, the daily life and the work that the geishas do. We also see the political intrigues and the duplicity that was inherent in the world of the Kyoto geishas. Chiyo herself is both on the receiving end and trapped in the middle of much of what happens. In her house is a very successful geisha named Hatsumomo. She sees Chiyo's beauty as a threat and works against her. Eventually, a rival of Hatsumomo's named Mameha takes Chiyo under her wing and helps her.
Chiyo begins as a maid while the "mother" of the geisha house tries out her ability to work. She is then promoted to a student and begins her training in the geisha school. In the school, we see the discipline required of the geishas as they study dance, singing, musical instruments and tea ceremonies.
Chiyo finally does become a geisha and takes on the name Sayuri. Of course, the world of the geisha is not separated from the rest of the world. When World War II comes around, life changes for the geishas. The normal things of life become scarce. After the World War, Americans come to visit. They do not know the traditions of geisha, but they become major customers to the geishas then.
The stories told here are very interesting. Author Arthur Golden paints a rich picture of an exotic age long gone, inhabited by characters who seem real. As I began to read this book, I knew little about the real world of the geisha. If this book is accurate in its portrayal of geisha's golden age, I cannot judge. However, the picture Golden paints is detailed enough to allow us to picture it well.
Furthermore, these are characters with depth who we actually care about. Before I was done, I felt Ireally knew Chiyo/Sayuri and the residents of the house where she lived: Mother, Hatsumomo, Auntie, and Pumpkin. I also grew to know the people outside the house and to care about them: Mameha, the chairman, the baron and all the others.
If you enjoy biographies, this novel will probably appeal to you as it feels like a genuine biography. There is no violence in this book, and only the most minimal sexual discussions. However, there is intrigue and betrayal and plotting and planning here to spare. I loved the exotic local and people. I highly recommend Memoirs of a Geisha the next time you need something new to read. I recommend it. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Geisha, but very much on my mind since I purchased it "used" off Amazon is "THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One Excellent Novel!, June 26 2005
By 
Joy Davis (Brookfield, WI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Memoirs of a Geisha (Hardcover)
Memoirs of a Geisha is an extraordinary and lovely novel. It tells the story of Sayuri, a geisha from Kyoto's golden age. It is written as a memoir dictated to a friend of hers who begins by telling us how he came to know this woman.
The main portion of the book begins with Sayuri's childhood, at a time when she lives not in Kyoto, but in a small fishing village called Yoroido. At the time, her name is not Sayuri, but Chiyo. As a child, her mother becomes terminally ill. When she finally succumbs, Chiyo and her older sister end up being sent off to Kyoto. In Kyoto, they are sent to separate places. Her sister is sent to a brothel. She is sent to a geisha house.
Up til this point, the book has been fairly ordinary, but at this point, it becomes extraordinary. Here, we begin to view the day to day life in the world of the Kyoto geishas. In here we see the training school, the daily life and the work that the geishas do. We also see the political intrigues and the duplicity that was inherent in the world of the Kyoto geishas. Chiyo herself is both on the receiving end and trapped in the middle of much of what happens. In her house is a very successful geisha named Hatsumomo. She sees Chiyo's beauty as a threat and works against her. Eventually, a rival of Hatsumomo's named Mameha takes Chiyo under her wing and helps her.
Chiyo begins as a maid while the "mother" of the geisha house tries out her ability to work. She is then promoted to a student and begins her training in the geisha school. In the school, we see the discipline required of the geishas as they study dance, singing, musical instruments and tea ceremonies.
Chiyo finally does become a geisha and takes on the name Sayuri. Of course, the world of the geisha is not separated from the rest of the world. When World War II comes around, life changes for the geishas. The normal things of life become scarce. After the World War, Americans come to visit. They do not know the traditions of geisha, but they become major customers to the geishas then.
The stories told here are very interesting. Author Arthur Golden paints a rich picture of an exotic age long gone, inhabited by characters who seem real. As I began to read this book, I knew little about the real world of the geisha. If this book is accurate in its portrayal of geisha's golden age, I cannot judge. However, the picture Golden paints is detailed enough to allow us to picture it well.
Furthermore, these are characters with depth who we actually care about. Before I was done, I felt Ireally knew Chiyo/Sayuri and the residents of the house where she lived: Mother, Hatsumomo, Auntie, and Pumpkin. I also grew to know the people outside the house and to care about them: Mameha, the chairman, the baron and all the others.
If you enjoy biographies, this novel will probably appeal to you as it feels like a genuine biography. There is no violence in this book, and only the most minimal sexual discussions. However, there is intrigue and betrayal and plotting and planning here to spare. I loved the exotic local and people. I highly recommend Memoirs of a Geisha the next time you need something new to read. I recommend it. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Geisha, but very much on my mind since I purchased it "used" off Amazon is "THE LOSERS CLUB: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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Memoirs of a Geisha
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Hardcover - Sept. 23 1997)
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