Do you ever get a craving to read a certain book? I have a certain special few that I feel that way toward. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is one of those books for me. I’m honestly surprised I haven’t reviewed this before now because I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read this book. I decided to right that wrong and re-read this wonderful tale so I could review it with it fresh in my mind. This review will have slight spoilers.
A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.
As a lover and reader of a lot of historical fiction, Memoirs of a Geisha is unique because there just isn’t a lot of Japanese historical fiction out there (that I’ve seen) and especially not a lot of fiction revolving around the mysterious geisha (also known as geiko) world. If you’re not aware, geisha are women trained in music, tea ceremony, dancing and conversation. They typically entertain wealthy men. They are located only in Japan and their numbers are much fewer now than they were in say the 1920s when there were over 80,000 geisha. They are NOT prostitutes. In the past however, a girl’s virginity could be purchased in what was called the mizuage and a man could become a woman’s danna which basically means he supports her and she is his mistress.
Memoirs of Geisha revolves around the life of a geisha name Sayuri in the early 1900s during the height of geisha culture. Sayuri was sold at nine years old to a geisha house, called an okiya, to be trained. The book covers her entire life and is an incredibly fascinating look into a lifestyle that little is known about. You can tell that the author did extensive research and he talks about his research in the book’s acknowledgements. This book is not only entertaining from beginning to end with amazing characters but it’s also a great way to learn about another culture.
There is a movie by the same name based on this book. It’s also really good but not quite as good as the book, as per usual. If you love historical fiction or have ever been curious about Japanese/geisha culture I highly recommend you read this. Does this book sound interesting to you or have you read it before? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!