Memoirs of A Geisha

Memoirs of A Geisha

Book - 1997
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Random House, Inc.
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Publisher: New York, NY : Random House, 1997
Edition: Large Print
ISBN: 9780739326220
Characteristics: 758 p.; 25cm ; cm


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Mar 22, 2019

Memoirs of a Geisha was written by Arthur Golden who based the book off of Mineko Iwasaki, a famous geisha. Memoirs of a Geisha outlines the life of young Chiyo who resided in Yoroido with her father, older sister, and dying mother, and very soon got sold off to a geisha house by a businessman named Mr. Tanaka, while her sister was sent to a brothel. Chiyo suffers the cruel treatment of the okiya’s (geisha house) head, and the wrath of the successful geisha whom they were receiving the proper income from: Hatsumomo. The book explains the details of Chiyo’s life since the day she was sold off to the okiya and also the interruptions that World War II caused during her career. I found this book extremely fascinating, because Golden was a man who was able to write this book in a woman’s perspective, and it was truly convincing. Along with the greatly established point of view, Memoirs of a Geisha was insightful on the life of a geisha and the war’s effect. I would recommend this book to ages 15+ and give it a 4/5 star rating. @ilovefood of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Hillsboro_JennyFl Feb 13, 2019

This story takes place in Kyoto, Japan in the 1930’s and 40’s. We follow Chiyo, a poor girl from a fishing village, sold into slavery at age nine. A chance encounter with a kindly businessman known as “The Chairman”, changes her life in ways she could never imagine. As the war ramps up, Chiyo must be resourceful if she is to attain prominence as a geisha and gain the attentions of The Chairman, for whom she longs. The author’s lyrical writing is beautiful; the coming of age story, compelling. There is an emotional intensity that comes from seeing the whole story from our main character’s point-of-view. Overall, I would recommend this for fans of historical fiction and those interested in Japanese culture.

LoganLib_JennyI Jan 02, 2019

Memoirs of a Geisha has been on my "To Read" list for 30 years. This is a wonderful blend of memoir, Cinderella romance, historical fiction and good versus evil.
Memoirs of a Geisha is a very dramatic tale of a young village girl taken from her family and raised in Kyoto as a geisha. Golden uses metaphors and similes to evoke powerful images of the social customs, traditions and culture prior to and during the WWII era in Japan. At times it was hard to read as I felt so deeply for the characters. sometimes the hardships and cruelty seemed too much for such a young girl with no family support.

Dec 11, 2018

a great novel. if you enjoyed it, try "snow country" by the nobel laureate kawabata.

Nov 19, 2018

Since I received this book for Christmas over a decade ago, I have made a point to reread it every year as it is one of the few books so lush and rich in detail, so utterly captivating in style and content, that my mind is whisked away each time I traverse its pages. This is my favorite book, and if you like perfectly polished imagery and escapism, it will certainly make your day.

Nov 13, 2018


CHARACTERS: I absolutely love Sayuri. This is maybe the second or third time that I have read this book, and I just really, really love Sayuri. She is fictional, but she feels real and fleshed out. Her backstory is sad, but the fact that she fights in the unique geisha way for what she wants in order to not starve as a pauper is really inspiring. Even though she lost her mother, father, and her sister, she is able to unconsciously work through the challenges as a young girl, and then consciously as a woman. Her story is an eye-opening window into the lives of geisha in Japan, and the cutthroat competition that it included.
PLOT: Amazing. Every single time I read this, it is just like the water that Sayuri has too much of: gentle, yet forceful, and cold to the touch. This plot is one of the most amazing that I have ever enjoyed. From a young girl sold to the okiya (geisha house) to an apprentice of Mameha (awesome. Amazing character) to geisha of the man she loves, her story is moving, powerful, and cannot be missed.
ACCURACY: As far as accuracy goes, this story delves into the makeup, wax, rouge, and hair ornaments as well as the cost, debts, and payments of the geisha life. I haven’t studied this, but from my perspective it is a very well-researched novel.
RECOMMENDATION: This book has five out of five stars, and I love it. However, it should not be read by readers under fifteen-sixteen. It is a story about women used as sexual … not toys, more than that… but basically glorified prostitutes. (I am probably bungling that. Sorry). Anyway, the idea is that there is lots of sexuality in this book.

Sep 01, 2018

I have read this novel five or six times across my maturation from 16 - 30. I have no doubt I will read it again. This is such a rich and expertly written tale of feminine psyche and endurance that I find something new to understand and relate to with every revisit. This is a novel that surpasses mere entertainment but informs and tests your own understanding of yourself and your place in the world. The glimpse into one of the most ancient and secret traditions of Japan is also fascinating. That a man wrote this novel so delicately dealing with female experience is mind boggling - but then perhaps it is a case of the stranger being able to see and observe more from the outside? Read this novel, it is for me an old friend and one of my true favourites.

ArapahoeKati Mar 22, 2018

I have read this book several times and I am always enthralled by it: the writing is lush, the characters are fully realized, the setting of pre-WWII Japan is stunning. If you like historical fiction and character development, I highly recommend this.

Jun 18, 2017

A beautiful book on the culture of Geishas. It was really good!!
It was beautifully written and was REAL not a sappy love story, but actually real.
It was great.

DCPL_Lisa Mar 15, 2017

A true page turner. If you love feeling like you really know a character, you will find Suriya fascinating. The book chronicles her life from a young child in a poor village where she was sold by her father and ends up being bought by a okiya, or a geisha house. The book is masterfully written to where you feel like you're right there with Suriya as she ages and learns the geisha way of life.

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