December 13, 2012

Geisha Girls

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Release Date: November 2005
Publisher: Random House | Vintage
Pages: 434 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle ebook

Summary (from Amazon)
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it.
Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha
I don't think I've ever read anything quite like Memoirs of a Geisha - in a good way. The narrator, Nitta Sayuri, introduces the reader to the life of a Geisha. I thought I knew exactly what a Geisha was before I started reading, but I soon realized that it's so much more than I thought. 

It's an exotic setting, and I really don't think I've read anything else set in Japan. I was so intrigued by the value system, the way of life, and the cultural traditions. I was caught up in the story and fascinated by the unfamiliarity.

It's a very detailed book with a lot of descriptions, which can be both good and bad. It made for really gorgeous writing at certain points, but it also made the book drag a little bit in other parts. For the most part, I really loved the flow of the book. It has a very lyrical feel to it!

The book is constructed as if its true - set up as if it was narrated to the author by a real geisha. To be honest, that totally confused me! I legitimately thought it was based on a real woman, so you can imagine my surprise when I realized it wasn't. The author is an American man, so I think it's important to keep in mind that, like any work of fiction, it's not entirely accurate. I wish he hadn't tried to make it seem like it was real because that colored my experiences with the book. I'm not 100% sure why, but it did.

Despite a few flaws, I really enjoyed this book and know it will hit the spot with fans of historical fiction!

So Quotable
"Adversity is like a strong wind. I don't mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be."

4 comments:

  1. This is one of my favourites, although I read it so long ago that it's hard to remember exactly what I loved best about it. I think you summarized it perfectly with your description of the writing -- I was just finishing university when I read it, and recall being swept away by the language in the book. Great review =)

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    1. The writing/language of the book really is the best part about this book! It totally sweeps you away! Thanks for all your sweet comments lately :)

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  2. I have been wanting to read this book for such a long time now! Your review makes me want to put it on my 2013 Reading List. Love the simplicity of your reviews, by the way! Do you mind if I adopt the same format for a few year end book reviews I'm doing over on my blog?

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    1. I'm sorry that I'm so late to reply to your comment, Lesley Anne. Of course you're free to use the same format! I'm glad you like it :)

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