Memoirs of a Geisha

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Memoirs of a Geisha

by Arthur Golden

Knopf Canada | January 6, 1999 | Trade Paperback

Memoirs of a Geisha is rated 4.4873 out of 5 by 197.
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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8 × 5.1 × 0.9 in

Published: January 6, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067697175x

ISBN - 13: 9780676971750

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely glimpse into the past for these mysterious beings... I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of Sayuri again (as I read this back when it was first released). You meet a child who has little, but it is enough. But circumstances bring her to Kyoto whereby she sees into the world of the geishas, their artistry, their demanding regiments (hair, shoes, presentation, arts, etc). Love how the author allows us to peak into their culture and lives while showing how they are feeling, but also allows the outside world to seep in. Recommend.
Date published: 2013-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Blown away The book is a very easy read with many details which is hard to do without confusing the reader or letting them loose interest by all the details given. You become attached to the main character and the story does not lack anything. I loved learning new cultures and their was a lot of information that I retained from this read.
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating This is a story about the trials and tribulations of a young girl sold to a Geisha house in the first half of the 20th century in Japan. As Sayuri, an extraordinarily beautiful Geisha, grows into a great success, she also creates a powerful rival that seems bent on making her life miserable. Secretly falling in love with the Chairman, a high ranking executive working for an electrical company and a patron of the Geisha house, not only adds to the torments of her daily life but wills her into a moral struggle that may cause her to betray a friend as well as cause her ultimate demise. Wonderful! Looking forward to watching the film.
Date published: 2012-04-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad I actually liked this book. The problem is that I was told the book was a true story and I took that as a fact without giving the book much scrutiny. a few chapters in I was shaking my head. This is a great book, but it is not a true story. it is historical fiction--well researched, but fiction none-the-less. after I got over that hump, the book came into its own. and I started enjoying it. I didn't like the ending but overall I'd say this book is worth the read.
Date published: 2012-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING! http://bookwormchronicles14.blogspot.com/2011/11/memoirs-of-geisha-arthur-golden.html
Date published: 2011-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Book Although when I chose to read this book it was far from what I normally would read, I soon fell in love with this story. It is one of my favourite books and I would highly recommend it. I was so involved with the story and the characters that I found it hard to ever put down.
Date published: 2011-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I could not put this book down! It was a great story and it really kept my attention through the whole book. I was actually sad when it ended. I would highly recomend this book!
Date published: 2011-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Holy Memoirs! There were lots of enlightening expressions and each one, I found, left me in awe... they were so beautiful and well used. It was an intimate experience to be fully immersed in the life of Chiyo/Sayuri, but it was also a bit boring in some places... just because it dragged on a bit. I saw the movie first, so I was eager to see how closely it followed the book. There are many differences between the two, but in the end the same feelings and points were made. Thanks to the movie I was able to visualize the characters and hear their voices as I read, and thanks to the book I was able to understand the movie better. Its hard to say which is better, but I think the two go hand in hand. The experience is just not complete without the both of them working together to tell you the story of Nitta Sayuri.
Date published: 2010-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Moving and enthralling... addictive! This has got to be one of my favourite books, and that list is a pretty short one. I read this book a few years ago, but could not put it down. This is one of the few books that I have read where the movie wasn't disappointing. In fact, I felt that the movie really kept to the story. It was so well-written, so richly detailed, I felt as if I were in Japan, watching this story being played out. Very few books have this effect on me. It was just beautifully written and the story is very well-told.
Date published: 2009-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Elegant, foreign and intriguing. I'm constantly classing this book as historical fiction and it always blows me away when I correct myself. The depth and complexity of tradition portrayed in this book gives it a sense of being something quite old when in actual fact it takes place not that long ago. The story telling quality of the novel is rhythmic and simply enchanting. It's impossible to put down. The teahouses, cobbled streets and silk kimonos are easy to envision. The language is a perfect blend of modern and classic. The pain and longing of the main character, Sayuri, is easily felt and understood. A phenomenal piece of literature. A must read for anyone wishing to experience another culture.
Date published: 2009-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a wonderful novel I was glued to this book from the first page; I could not put it down. Even though the main character was fictional, I found the Geisha culture and life in Gion to be absolutely fascinating. It was truly a whole different world inside of Japan. I can’t wait to see what Arthur Golden does for an encore. I will recommend this book to everyone.
Date published: 2009-08-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't live up the hype I've been wanting to read this book for some time now. I think I just had too high expectations and it kind of fell flat. I think there were some incredible stories told, and the main character made a very strong impact on me. I also enjoyed learning more about Geisha and the cultural aspects the book provided. I did find that it moved along a little slowly near the ending. But still a decent read by far!
Date published: 2009-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Something everyone can read. I totally loved it :) It was well written, and at times had my eyes glued for hours! Total epic-ness x)
Date published: 2009-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Good book
Date published: 2009-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites Enchanting and beautifully written tale portraying the resourcefulness and resilience of women, regardless of what part of the globe they are from or how they live out their destiny. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2008-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a wonderful read You step back into time, and definately learn a lot of history. Most importantly though, this book was about true romance.
Date published: 2008-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Even better than the movie! A MUST read! Ten times better than the movie, the book has amazing description that practically takes you there. It explains so much more about the life of a Geisha than the movie ever could. I highly recommend reading this before seeing the movie, it makes you understand certain details about a geisha's attire and demeanor that the movie never explores. Wonderful book!
Date published: 2008-09-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha Previously published September 26, 2007 at: http://5riversnews.blogspot.com/2007/09/review-memoirs-of-geisha-by-arthur.html As usual, it would seem I'm in a minority with this romantic tale of Chiyo-become-Sayuri, the peasant girl who became geisha. Set amid the backdrop of Depression Era and World War II Japan, the story takes you from Chiyo's fishing village, peasant beginnings to the opulent, harsh and at the same time frivolous world of Gion, where Chiyo transforms into a highly trained geisha known as Sayuri, and from there into the bitterly harsh realities of post-war Japan where she eeks out an existence as a dyer for a former, famed kimono maker. While I wanted to become enveloped in this artful, contrived world of the geisha, as I was in the film, I found myself distanced. Golden's insights of things Japanese is masterful, but I feel his insights of things feminine lacking. This became uncomfortably clear during the section dealing with Sayuri's virginity sale, and how she reacts to her successful buyer. For a young girl without sexual knowledge she is remarkably cool, to the point the entire section becomes dispassionate and a non-event. Even prior to that when the infamous Baron wishes to see what he's bidding for and secrets her away to undress her, the terror of the moment is utterly lost. Indeed the only terror Sayuri feels, and even then it's not sexual, is much later on, after she's become a very well-known and experienced geisha, and attempts to thwart a would-be patron's bid for her. Her shame, and her terror, is not for the act of sex, but rather that the Chairman, her long-time love, discovers her rather than her intended victim. Perhaps this distancing is a cultural difference. Perhaps not. As such I was left feeling the author's credibility lacked. There are other instances of emotional distance. While Chiyo, and then Sayuri, mourns the loss of her mother, it is lost on the reader because there has been little by way of relationship development, and so Chiyo's mourning becomes nothing more than whining. Again, this occurs in the relationship between Chiyo and her father. She professes to miss him, and yet he has never treated her with kindness. And the relationship between Chiyo and her sister, and her need to find her sister, looses emotional impact because there has been little in the way of development of this relationship. We are expected, as a reader, to simply accept there is a bond. It doesn't work. And so not only Chiyo/Sayuri, but the entire tone of the novel, comes off as cool, without passion, and certainly it would appear from the words Golden chooses he very much wishes the reader to feel passionately. As it is, I would rate Memoirs of a Geisha as light summer reading, and entirely forgettable.
Date published: 2008-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful read This book captivated me...and the writing was amazing. I felt like I was really there, reading this story. The movie was also excellent. This book covers a great amount of history, and really gives you a look into a different culture. This is something I've read again and again, and I highly recommend it to fiction lovers.
Date published: 2008-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A memorable read This book makes you fall in love with the authors, the setting, the places and all its events. It will make you smile or frown but in the end it will purely amase you because the story is just magnificent. You might not know alot about japanese culture but you are sure to fall in love with it after this read. IT shows beauty in such unique forms and the story unfolds in very unexpected turns. IT is pretty much a story that starts with a small little girl and takes you around with her through her whole entire life, till the moment she grows old.
Date published: 2008-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Read! I absolutely love this book. It was so descriptive that, when it came time for me to watch the movie, I had already imagined what everything would look like. To be honest, the movie was a real let-down because the book was so amazing with its words. The long wait to read this - since grade 11 English class to third year of Univ. - was definitely worth it! Two thumbs WAY up!
Date published: 2008-07-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad The content is all there but the way it is written made it hard to get through...The movie was a true following of the book...It's a romance that lasts a lifetime.
Date published: 2008-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exciting I read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden after watching the movie, and it was still very exciting. This is because the novel has more events that happen, it’s more detailed, and it goes past the movie's ending. I think the movie makes Nobu seem like a bad person, but I really liked him in the novel. This novel is about a geisha, Sayuri, the difficulties she faces as a geisha and the consequences of falling in love. I highly recommend this unique novel to everyone over the age of sixteen.
Date published: 2008-05-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting this book was very interesting. It tells the story of a little girl who is forced to become a geisha (or she will become a maid if she refuses to become a geisha). overall the book was a pretty good read.
Date published: 2008-04-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Learned about a hidden world but literature this isn't Golden's book is interesting and at times entertaining. I learned a great deal about a hidden world of Japanese culture. But the language is simple and the writing structure rather dull.
Date published: 2008-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic!! This is my favorite book of all time. I saw the movie first and then decided to read the book. After experiencing them both, I decided I liked the book much better. You can appreciate the fantastic description of everything you see in the movie, but on a bigger scale. Highly recommend!!
Date published: 2008-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind capturing!!! Arthur Golden takes you into the past and leads you to believe that even modern day Life may still be this way for a Geisha in Japan...could not put the book down...it was mind capturing!!!
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Much better than the movie! Golden's book is so much better than the movie. I read it a couple of years ago and fell in love with it.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So much better than the movie I read this book before watching the theatrical version of it. I didn't even make it half way through the movie before turning it off. The book puts so much beauty into the storyline. Arthur Golden has a magical way with words. The movie did not even come close to doing justice for this book. Must read!
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing Could not put it down. Intriguing.
Date published: 2007-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sensational! I read this book years before the movie was out. Superb! In fact, much better than the movie. The descriptions throughout the book leave your imagination running wild. I have read this more then once and each time I visualize something new. There is a sense of beauty and sensuality to it without being over the top. It tugs at your heart making you question people’s behavior .Shows how things were so much different compared to what we know now.
Date published: 2007-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great story A remarkable and breathtaking novel, the author unlocks the complex world of rituals with insight, grace and intelligence. It is beautifully written and immensely believable.One can easily enter this exotic world where appearances are so important. The story spans a lifetime, a girl is sold into slavery at a very young age by her father and is taken away from her village only to be groomed into beguiling the most powerful men. This story is seen through the eyes of the main character as she struggles to become and to be one of the most sought geisha in Gion . This part fairy tale and part historical novel drew me in from the very first page. I wonder how close the movie came in describing this world without falling into too much Americanism, well maybe I will have to watch the DVD one day and judge for myself.
Date published: 2007-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Superb Novel. I must admit, I first picked up the book simply because I have a fascination with Japan and it's culture, but once I started to read the novel, I knew that I didn't pick it up by mistake. The story of small Chiyo is a heart-wrenching tale of pre WWII Japan. However as the reader sees this little girl grow to become one, if not the, of most beautiful girls in all of Japan. The inspirational story leds to a beautiful ending that you know Chiyo/Sayuri deserves.
Date published: 2007-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It The story was breathtaking. You just let your imagination take you in, and immediately you can feel the pain, hate, love and happiness. Glad I read the book, it was more impressive than the movie. Also helps you understand what the movie is about. A good read.
Date published: 2006-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting The most riveting book I've read in a couple of years. The feelings and impressions were so well painted, I could feel and see all (note: I have not seen the movie). There was also plenty of intrigue and surprises to make the story line in itself captivating. I recomend this book to anyone and will surely pick it up again in the years to come... if not next month already.
Date published: 2006-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite Book I absolutely loved this book. It was beautifully written, I never wanted it to end. I was excited to hear about the movie but was EXTREMELY dissappointed - it was awful!
Date published: 2006-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Flawless 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is absolutely amazing! The story is convincing, staggering, and also absorbing. The descriptions are picturesque, leaving just enough detail for you to imagine the scenes in your mind. The plot itself holds a numer of elements, including humour, sorrow, cheerfulness, panic, embarassment, and hope. I found I could not stop myself from turning the next page, determined to find out what would happen next. Arthur Golden has created a character who I could easily believe was real. Her thoughts and feelings are put forth so well that I couldn't help but share in her emotions throughout the story. Arthur Golden's creation is a stunning success from start to finish. Multiple times better than the movie (which is still good), I vastly recommend this book.
Date published: 2006-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exquisite! A stunning book that I couldn't put down. Places, people and events were described so beautifully and clearly that I could see them in my mind. The characters were wonderfully drawn, both mysterious and vulnerable at the same time, like the reader could get to know them. The different stories of love and struggle woven into the plot keep the reader enraptured with the story.
Date published: 2006-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brilliant When comparing the book to the movie, I found it significantly better. The movie leaves out a lot of main parts. The book is about the beauty of woman and the power of men. This book is wonderful and sad at the same time. Just because you saw the movie, does not mean you should give up on the book. I highly recommend this book to everyone, as it shows you the ideal Japanese woman before the world war.
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating My friend has recommended this book 2 years before it was released on the big screen. Finally, I picked up the book and read the first chapter. Then the second, and the third. I found that I'm staying up at night with my eyelids propped up by toothpicks, just to finish a particular part of the story. I began to make excuses just to stay in bed and read. The book absolutely captures my mind and every minute of my waking days. It was an experience beyond my imagination to be immersed within the Japanese culture so entirely. Furthermore, I like the the fact that although the subject is sensual and sexual, there is no vulgarity within it. The only one thing I found unrealistic is the casual description of Sayuri's first sexual experience, especially since it was supposed to be written through a woman's perspective. In the same situation, a girl will not likely stare at the ceiling and wonder whether there is a crack on the ceiling tile. It will most likely hurt, and she may find herself trying to stay silence by clenching her teeth. Perhaps this is not something that is easily understood by the opposite gender. Nevertheless, this is a great book. Realistic, captivating, and romantic. A Eastern Cinderella story.
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from astonishing I thought this book was a good reading book, and was impressed very much how it captured the life of a geisha, and how she interwines with the culture of Japan. I would like to read more books like these, and find it very interesting to learn more about the Japaneese culture. I am hoping to travel to Japan someday to see how the geisha relates to the Japaneese society.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! This book makes you really appreciate Japenese Culture. It also shows you the struggle for success. Betrayal, Love, Scandal, are just some of the few things you will experience. This book will make you read it slowly.. as to savour every moment. It is NOTHING like the movie... wich kinda blew me away.. but its AMAZING. I highly recomend it! Monika
Date published: 2006-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very visual I felt that Arthur Golden really captured the Japanese culture of becoming a geisha in this book. He writes so you can see, feel and even smell what it is like for the main character 'Chiyo' all the trials and tribulations she has been through in becoming a geisha and how she got there. He makes the reader understand what a Geisha truly is, and why the women do it.
Date published: 2006-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy to Read Enticing Prose Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden, is written in easy to read, enticing prose. It is the kind of book that you won't be able to put down; the kind of book that keeps you coming back for more. As a young child Chiyo's mother falls ill with cancer and quickly becomes unable to do more than lie in bed sleeping to avoid the pain. Her elderly father is hard struck by this as years ago he had lost his entire previous family, of which Chiyo knew little. One day, after falling and injuring her leg, she meets Mr. Tanaka, a local business man, who in the process of helping Chiyo is taken by her unusual eyes and beauty. In a few short weeks Chiyo and her sister Satsu are launched into an adventure that separates them from their parents and divides their lives permanently. Mr. Tanaka is not the saviour that Chiyo had hoped for. He will not be adopting her. Instead he has sold Chiyo and her sister into a life of servitude; Chiyo will eventually become a geisha, but only after many difficult travails, while Satsu is sold into prostitution and the two sisters end by loosing complete contact. Years later Chiyo learns that her parents passed away shortly after she and Satsu departed, but she is never reunited with her sister, after an initial failed attempt to escape the geisha house. It is a heart breaking letter, but also one that propels her into the future. It is this failed attempt that delayed her entry into the profession, which she finally realized was preferable to being a servant girl. As a geisha she gains respectability and economic power, unlike anything possible had she remained a mere servant. But the life of a geisha is not easy. It is filled with life long lessons in music, dance, culture, conversation, along with daily work duties in the geisha house; hauling water, washing floors or doing whatever the "mother" of the house requires. All lessons must be paid back by each individual geisha, to the geisha house, as wages garnered from their daily duties. They must even pay back the amount the house paid for them when they were unwittingly sold into the profession. Arthur Golden does a fantastic job of bringing this strange culture to life. He gives the average westerner a better understanding of what it meant to be a geisha and all the cultural nuances that were part of that life style and times. He is equally compassionate with the treatment of Chiyo's father, whom we assume is too depressed after so much loss in his life that he quickly acquiesces to Mr. Tanaka. We are also left to assume that Mr. Tanaka thought he was doing Chiyo and her sister a favour by selling them to a geisha house. It exemplifies a vast cultural difference. Either way, as a helper, or out of pure greed, Mr. Tanaka, affected Chiyo's life permanently. Chiyo went on to become a very successful geisha with a "danna" whom she adored. She did have difficulties within the geisha world that put her success in jeopardy at times, but the problems were not insurmountable. The one disappointment in this well written story is that Chiyo, who upon becoming an official geisha is renamed Sayuri, never makes an attempt - beyond the first months when she arrived in the city - to escape or even question this system of enslavement. Even after WWII when she could easily have done this she decides to return to work as a geisha. Disappointingly no else in the novel is assigned this task either. The reader is presented what seems like a fairly accurate picture of the life of a geisha, but it is done from a very idealistic point of view. We can see the down side to this profession in Japan, yet no one is given the role of modernizer, agent of change or agent of betterment. One other contentious area was in the plot. It takes 15 years for Sayuri to finally get the "danna" she wants. Part of the problem was that as a geisha she had little choice in picking her "danna". She felt pressured by the geisha house and "mother" of the house to pick a specific man over another. Yet the reality may have been different and economic pressures were more important than love. Can a woman still be so focused on "getting" the same man after so many set backs? Is this realism or romanticism? The story is focused more on the journey than the actual love affair. In fact Sayuri's character seems not to progress much out of childhood. After the war and in her thirties, she seems as child like and idealistic, starry-eyed as when she was younger. She is a willowy character, lacking grit or self determination. In fact she seemed to have more gumption when she was nine and tried to escape than when she was in her thirties. The war did not jade her opinion of geishas, did not change or mature her, did not bring her into the modern age, even though she decides to travel to New York, out of the blue, and set up a business after bearing a son with her danna. The arrival of this change is inconsistent
Date published: 2006-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A window into another world Having no idea what to expect, I started reading this book while on holidays - and found that I could not put it down! As I kept reading the book, I realized how little I really knew about Japanese culture, and especially what life must have been like before WWII in Japan. Our western world perception of what was a geisha is so skewed, and inaccurate, as their geisha world was an entire subculture, so differerent than anything we have here in North America. Societal expectations of geisha, as well as the accepted roles of a husband/wife/mistress, and their day to day interactions are very different, fascinating, although sometimes repugnant as seen through 2006 eyes. Excellent book - I felt like I had stepped into preWWII Japan, seeing the world through the eyes of an innocent young girl who was taken from her family, and sold into the world of geisha. Written as the memoirs of an old woman who is now willing to tell her story to a non-Japanese journalist, the reader can experience what she remembers about growing up in a fishing village, being sold, and the implications of what becoming a geisha means to a young woman. This book will open your eyes to another world. Read this when you have a good bit of time to sit down and just enjoy this book.
Date published: 2006-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story I really liked this book and had a hard time putting it down. It gives a great sense of the Geisha culture (though I keep a certain reserve, after all it is written by a NORTH AMERICAN MAN!!!) It's a really beautiful story and actually quite liked that the main character tried constantly to strive for what she wanted (as opposed to what everyone else wanted from her). However, the end was disappointing. A little too happy-ending for my taste.
Date published: 2006-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Book! This was an absolutely excellent read. Arthur Golden's writing is such that it allows the reader to use his/her imagination to great depths. The only suggestion I could make is that the book should be read prior to watching of the movie. The reader will far more enjoy the novel if it is read first, but still an excellent book either way.
Date published: 2006-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A definite must-read! Memoirs of a Geisha kept my occupied for 6 blissful hours. I pulled an all-nighter to finish this heartwrenching story of betrayal, hardship, love and acceptance. I would recommend this book to anyone that is into Historical Fiction. This book was truly emotional for me, be prepared to grab the tissues, since some parts in it are definitely tear-jerkers.
Date published: 2006-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! If you've seen the movie, its no doubt that you have to read the book. While the movie was good, it didnt do the book justice. An absolute must read!
Date published: 2006-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Beautiful, lucid language, and a real sense of authenticity behind the voice of the narrator. I don't think there was one moment while reading this book that I could honestly say it wasn't the actual memoirs of a geisha, rather than an imaginary woman written by a man. The narrator isn't perfect, she is realistic, and the novel is all the better for it. Truly an accomplishment -- the entire book feels like a long sweeping story told to you by a close friend.
Date published: 2006-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from better than the movie I have read this book at least five times, and I love it better every time. I picked up my first copy while living in japan near the Gion district, and i carry it wherever i go.
Date published: 2006-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating! I really enjoyed learning about geisha and the culture in Japan. The book is really well written, making you want to just keep reading. The story itself is fascinating as it takes you on a geisha's life journey, through the hardships and the sacrifices of such a lifestyle. It's about hope and love for a geisha. The book is quite long, but if you enjoy a good read, I would recommend this book to you.
Date published: 2006-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Keeps you on the edge of you seat This book held you wondering to the very last page. It made you see how a life of a young girl can turn in the blink of an eye forever. There was true love of a famliy in the beginning and true love at the end. For the rest of the book it was a matter of staying alive at the highest level with a price - a person's happiness. This book has a lot of emotion to it and I could not put it done. I was finished in a matter of days.
Date published: 2006-06-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating! I really couldn't put this book down! I was completely absorbed in the story and in awe of this character as told from the perspective of a Geisha - a subject matter I knew little about.
Date published: 2006-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful One of those books that you have to buy so you can read it over and over. A beautiful story and a real insight into the life of a geisha.
Date published: 2006-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Crazy Good!!! I loved this book!!! You should definitly read it!!!
Date published: 2006-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great read Better than the movie. A must to read. Very informative about the culture.
Date published: 2006-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A IDAI (NA) READ BOOK After visiting Japan for a month last year this book meant so much more for me to read, the life and heardship of becoming a Geisha are really not written in any book or novel. I'm sure glad I had the opportunity to read Arthur Goldens book . I came away with a closer understanding of the Japanese woman and the life they led way back when (or even today in some cases). ARIGATO !!
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enchanting Cinderella Type Story I love this book, (the original), it’s a lot better than the movie, or movie-tie in. Golden is a fabulous author who is able to capture feeling and emotion. It allows the reader to feel hope and I really enjoyed the cultural emphasis that the author incorporates into the story.
Date published: 2006-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful One of the most beautiful books I've ever read. The story takes you captive and paints one of the most magical of tales of love, suspense and drama. A most beautiful read that you will be unable to put down.
Date published: 2006-03-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Generally Enjoyable I enjoyed this book on a number of levels. There were learning opportunities [for example, the usage of terms such as 'danna'.] Some of the mischievous feats were good for a chuckle, while other parts were simply heartbreaking. There were times when I really disliked Sayuri, but that only made the story more interesting. All in all, I found it enjoyable, but I wouldn't recommend it if you dislike long, detailed literature.
Date published: 2006-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a young girl's sorrow, challenges and success Wonderfully written story of a young woman's journey through life as a geisha. Excellent use of detail pertaining to Japanese culture and the Depression. Suspense lies in the heart of the young geisha and her challenge to overcome numerous life space obstacles. Overall, an excellent story with a cultural awareness of a timeline of events making it difficult to put down!
Date published: 2006-02-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not that great This book wasn't as great as I had heard. It was interesting at times, and sweet, but the story didn't grab me, and I thought the ending was lousy. I hate it when books go into great detail for the first 495 pages, then try to quickly summarize everything and end the story in the last 5.
Date published: 2006-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautifully written book. To all those who have seen the motion picture or would like to, please read the book! The movie simply does not do it justice. Arthur Golden tells the story of a geisha in such a beautiful way. Nothing I say will be able to describe the passion and thrill I felt while reading this book.
Date published: 2006-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular, Magnificent, Amazing Memoirs of a Geisha is a wonderful novel. A great book to read and the movie is great to watch. It's such a great book and such a page turner. It's the kind of novel you don't want to put down I give it 5 stars 2 thumbs up watever its just great. A great love story. Read It You Wont Regret It!
Date published: 2006-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended! Splendid novel! The book was a story of grace and charm. Simply breath taking it was. Arthur Golden is a very vivid writer, because the book is so very carefully written with such style and quality in all the sentences. It is astounding the simplicity and detail in each and every page. I could not put this novel down! I would definitly recommend this book to others.
Date published: 2006-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining and transforming! Childishly elegant, culturally stimulating, magificently narrated.
Date published: 2006-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! This book it's a must read!!!
Date published: 2006-01-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Standard Fare for Light Reading This novel reaffirmed my general policy on fiction, if it's hyped by mass media as a book to read it is tailored to that section of society, in that this novel is designed to be readily consumed. Pretty standard in its content, nothing in the novel too thought provoking, and it isn't seeking to change your mind about social fabrics, or the lifestyle of a geisha. Just remember while reading Memoirs it is a piece of historical fiction, our discomfort with the lifestyle of the geisha is the result of our 21st century ideas and should not be subjected on individuals who by their own society's standards lived a unique and honorable life.
Date published: 2005-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Memoirs I was very impressd by the great detail and beautiful language that Arthur Golden uses in Memoirs of A Geisha. The wit and great detail of the novel make for an engrossing read, however, I found the ending dissapointing. A happy ending is sprung onto the reader and fits akwardly with the rest of the story. I believe the novel lost a certian edge when everything ended so perfectly, with a new westren life in New York for the main characer and her beloved husband, and their son. It left a bad aftertaste of hollywood. Despite this though, Memoirs of a Geisha remains a must-read. The novel is simply captivating.
Date published: 2005-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing one of the best books i've ever read.
Date published: 2005-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the BEST book If you're looking for a novel that has love, suspense, drama and a sense of realism, this is the book for you. I was totally pleased with this book.
Date published: 2005-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Am I memory to you? This novel made me re-think my life and I grew very close to its protagonist. Golden's magical words painted the oriental world of a geisha every chapter. It has inspired me to look for books out of my ordinary bounderies and really explore different literature. I could not put the book down. Now that the movie is out, I am going to see it right away!
Date published: 2005-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book Memoirs of a Geisha is an absolutely beautiful novel. Simple, interesting, easy to read and just the greatest story.
Date published: 2005-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I cried I feel in love with this story. I'm only 14 and still, this book made me cry, after the harry potter series, this book is one i can always look forward to. Can't wait until the movie comes out!!!
Date published: 2005-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In Awe This has to be one of the best books i've read so far and i've read a lot. Golden gives such an insightful look into the life of a Geisha that at the end of the book u feel as if you ARE part of that lifestyle and u became a geisha or atleast her customers. Unbelievably written and pure genius. You will be sad, angry, happy, excited, bittered, moved all in the first few chapters. What more can a reader ask for? So if you have some time to spare or you're interested in looking at life in a whole new prespective, PLEASE give this book a chance! Bravo!
Date published: 2005-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from / i was never really a big fan of reading. but this novel had changed my opinion and views on books. it's amazing, and i finished it in 3 days. I recommend it to all you other readers out there.
Date published: 2005-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring! What a wonderful way to expose yourself to the Geisha culture. I found Sayuri to be an inspiring character who overcame many obstacles in her life. Definitely a quick read. My only wish would be that her life be elaborated on in the end.
Date published: 2005-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant and stylish I am not a lover of literature . My sister gave me this book for Christmas and I waited until a vacation to begin reading it. I loved it! Easy to read, easy to get into, and a shame when it's over. I was really disappointed when I turned the last page. I had really gotten to like the character and the life that she had lived. I wanted more from her...it's amazing that it is a work of fiction. The author really pulls you in. I really recommend this book. You will love it.
Date published: 2005-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Daisuki desu!!! (I loved it) This is one of those books that just kept me turning the pages (even though I should have been studying for my exams). This just moved me a lot. I felt like I was right there with Sayuri, living the life of a Gion geisha right with her...wanting to bang Hatsumomo in the head with the frying pan a time or two at least. She was perfetly wretched...a character you love to hate, though I did feel sorry for her a little with what actually happened to her. The characterization of Sayuri is also greatly powerful (as is that of most of the characters in this novel). Another reason I loved this book so is that I've been to Japan and have a strong interest in this country's culture and history. I recommend this book to anyone... well, anyone who is willing to be trapped in the world of that book for a while anyway...you wont be able to put it down.
Date published: 2005-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Unforgettable Read! This novel is incredibly well written. Arthur Golden writes with such a strong passion, and it shines through his words. I'm a high school student, and I used this book for an independent study in english. I went 6 minutes over the time alotted just because there was so much ground to cover, and I didn't want to skip any of it. The storyline is intoxicating, and I had to force myself to put the book down. The character descriptions are wonderful, and their personalities so real. Sayuri is enchanting, and I admire her cleverness. And Hatsumomo's vile qualities make you truly angry inside. I loved this book, and would highly reccomend this flawless piece of literature.
Date published: 2004-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent! this is probably one of the best books i have ever read. reading about the geisha culture was fascinating...and golden wrote about it with flair and beautifully...i'm telling you...read it!
Date published: 2004-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful! I've always been interested in geishas and I thought this book captured the stylized delicacy and artistic integrity they [geishas] have come to represent for me. Very romantic story despite its often times harsh reality.
Date published: 2003-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Colourful, memorable, beautiful I found this book incredibly hard to put down. The characters are amazingly lifelike. The author fully provokes emotion with every line from begining to end. This is definitely a book that I plan to read again (which I NEVER do).
Date published: 2003-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I agree, a very Memorable Memoir This book was one of those books that I just couldn't put down. I had to stay in all day on the weekend just so I could finish it. Yes, I know that sounds familiar, but this book was different. I could just imagine what and where Sayuri was the whole time. I almost felt like I was there, witnessing the whole thing. This book was unforgettable, and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to cuddle up in a chair and just read it. It will be all worth while.
Date published: 2003-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Descriptively beautiful I loved this book. I usually take a long time to finish a book, but I could not put this one down until I finished it. I recommend this book to anyone with any degree of an interest in japanese culture. For those without, it is a fantastic story on its own merit. This is a descriptively beautiful book that makes the reader never want to stop reading. I borrowed a copy and immediately went and got my own copy. I will read it again.
Date published: 2003-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! This is a great book! I loved it! I read for leisure and normally it takes me a while to finish a book because I read it only here and there. This book I read in a very short period of time. It is an easy read and it is very interesting. From a casual reader who likes to read only good books...I recommend this one 100%.
Date published: 2002-12-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was.... okay .. Basically, I read this book for a book report, and this book was quite interesting in the beginning because of the different changes in setting. However, as I reached the middle of the book, I was trying to keep my eyes open to finish it because it was 'so' boring. I'm not the kind of person that likes history much so I guess that's why it was boring for me. But then again, after you read that the author is actually an art specialist, it figures how the landscapes and kimonos are all described in such a detailed way. The ending, was something I hadn't expected, but what really made me wonder was how old the Chairman really was. Well anyways, have fun and good luck on the book if your going to read it.
Date published: 2002-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautifully written the language of this book is extremely lyrical and expressive. the story is very informative, yet haunting. i couldn't put down this book after starting it. i actually had to force myself to put it away for it was interfering with my schooling (exams weren't that long off at the time). i have to admit, the story does slow down significantly after the climax. it's still a great read.
Date published: 2002-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprise Ending This book leads you to believe it is based on the life of one young woman into her adult life and through the life of a geisha....while I read, I was filled with shock over such a way of life, and how this culture was so different. As I got further into the book, I couldn't put it down, I had to know what was going to happen next. What a shock when I reached the end to find that it was a ficticious character, based around facts of the life of a Geisha. None the less, I would recommend reading this book...not a dull moment in it.
Date published: 2002-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lots of details! The book is filled with disturbing yet interesting details about geisha life. Several twists in the storyline churned my stomach and kept me reading till the end hoping things would work out for the heroine.
Date published: 2002-05-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Much Ado About Nothing Flat, uni-dimensional, trite and boring. For a novel which garners such high praise from so many quarters, I was dismayed by the characters' utter lack of development.
Date published: 2001-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha I enjoyed this book to the point I could not wait read the next page and read the book in one sitting. When I finished I felt it was a learning experience of a different culture and what Sayuri endured to survive in those times. Mr. Golden wrote so well expressing Sayuri feelings that I felt it was Sayuri speaking to you and could picture myself there. He gave Sayuri respect in those trying times. Well written and a must read. I have gave copies to friends and had to buy another copy for myself.
Date published: 2001-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The world through the eyes of the Geisha An incredible book. I was spellbound from the start. Golden brings the reader into the mysterious world of the Geisha. Full of surprises. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Japanese culture or for anyone who wants to escape into a new world.
Date published: 2001-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Hit..... With such a wonderful book written so exquisitely, how could anybody not fall in love with it? A story of loss, longing and hopes! A must read!
Date published: 2001-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poetic. I kept forgetting that it was written by a man, a man who was able to tap into a very feminine and traditional psyche. Not only is this the story of a true heroine, but it is one of the best pieces of literature I have seen in a long time. It's a beautifully written story that takes you back to a disappearing, if not extinct, culture. A rare book.
Date published: 2001-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoir of a Geisha This fantastic book was mind-absorbing from the front cover of the book to the very end! It was as though I was listening to a story being told by Sayuri herself.
Date published: 2001-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from There's just something about it... Normally I'm not one to really look at the way the book is written but this is beautifully done. Author Golden has managed to allow the reader to believe that they are sitting face to face to Sayuri. At first I didn't realize that this was completely fictional and even when I did I kept forgetting that this wasn't real. The book can't be explained it has to be read and enjoyed.
Date published: 2001-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha Excellent reading! Arthur Golden takes his readers into 'the flower and willow world' of Japan in the 1930's. Historically accurate, Golden has made this novel into a gentle, delightful story that neither misrepresents nor degrades the geisha profession. As a sociology student, I have researched Geisha extensively, and have found Golden to be extremely accurate and more importantly, convincing in his tale about Nitta Sayuri. One could easily believe the events actually took place!Nitta Sayuri, a young girl sold to a geisha house in the 1930's, tells vividly of her experiences as a young maiko (apprentice geisha), and finally of how she became a geisha. So well written, Golden seems to transport his readers into a world very few westerners understand. Presented in the first person, it amazes me how Golden is able to tell such an amazingly concise story about a time he never lived in, a world he knew very little about before writing the book (as he indicates in a recent interview), a culture so greatly misunderstood, all while presenting this from a woman's unique perspective.This is an excellent book for both women as well as men. Be warned, however, you may not be able to put it down!
Date published: 2001-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A memoir The geisha Sayuri, a highly respected women in Japanese culture with a very long and intricate story to her name. Yet, Arthur Golden can create her deepest feelings and expressions in words. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture and history or anyone interested in the welfare of women in the past.
Date published: 2001-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Awesome Work of Fiction You'll gain so much insight to the Japanese culture when you read this book. Before I read this book, I wasn't sure what a geisha actually did. The author writes beautifully as a woman. You'll feel for the main character and you'll understand what she had to go through to be one of the most popular and respected geisha in Japan. You won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2001-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting How does one put into words an excellent book like this one is. This is truly one of the best books that i have read. From his descriptions of scenery right down to the clothing worn by geishas, this book held my interest. In fact i was disappointed when it was over.
Date published: 2001-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pass the Sake, Please I wonderfully gripping story, I couldn't put it down. From the beginning of the story, you are caught by the writers words and the pictures those words create. The setting of Japan during the depression and into the second World War are as interesting and well written as the story of the geisha herself. A must read!
Date published: 2001-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An American Man Wrote This? While I do not profess to know a great deal about Japanese culture, I know enough. The prose in this novel is beautifully written and is true to many important facets of life in Japan. The importance of nature, the hierarchical society, and the traditional attitudes toward women are all accurately reflected in this story. The information about the lives of geisha alone is reason enough to read this book. Moreover, Golden gradually draws you in to the world of Sayuri as she learns the traditions and trials of life in the Gion district of Kyoto. After the conflict with the wonderfully wicked Hatsumomo is resolved, the novel seems to drag its way to a fairy-tale conclusion. However, this is a tremendous read for anyone who is even remotely interested in the world of the geisha. Arthur Golden has done a wonderful job of conveying not only a tale from a different culture, but the point of view of a sympathetic female character.
Date published: 2001-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching Great reading, especially for those who do not know anything about the life of a geisha. Not only informative, but also a very touching story - her lost childhood, the tribulations she faced when she lost her family, looking over her shoulder for other geishas who were jealous of her. It is especially touching because it comes from Sayuri's viewpoint. I can read the book over and over again and have different emotions and feelings about Sayuri and both her fortunate and unfortunate life as a geisha.
Date published: 2001-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs will always be a great memory... After reading others reviews saying this story didn't hold up to history, well, what more can I say, but it is fiction. I was swept up in the visual imagery of this novel, almost being able to feel the embroidered silk of the kimonos. The author was able to paint a picture with his words, they were descriptive without being patronizing. Following the life of a girl torn from her family and growing up being trained to be a Geisha was a moving story and told perfectly by the author. At times I couldn't believe that it was a male author that could capture the spirit of a young woman so well. It is worth the read to be captured and taken on this very heartfelt story, I even plan on reading it again!
Date published: 2001-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha Poverty and wealth, passion and cruelty, and many more emotions all intertwined in this wonderful book carries you to a journey through the life of a geisha and gives a wonderful insite into Japanese culture. This is the story of Sayuri, who lives in a small Japanese fishing village with her sister and parents. After the death of their mother, the young girls are sold by their father, out of poverty and desperation and sent to Gion, where one begins her life training to be a geisha and the other is forced to become a prostitute. Sayuri begins her life as a maid to the geisha Hatsumumo in the Nitta Okiya .She goes through rigorous training to learn the different Japanese arts a geisha is supposed to know. But in her path stands the jealous Hatsumumo, who’s cruelty will stop at nothing to prevent Sayuri from succeeding...The story continues and Sayuri manages to achieve all her goals in life, and stands to tell her story.
Date published: 2001-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Memorable Memoir I think this book was very interesting, because it was about a life of a geisha. I am oriental too, and I knew a little about how a geisha lived or functioned. Now After I read this book, I see that geishas led very callous and cruel lives. I felt so sorry for the young girls who had other ambitions but were sent without their own accord.
Date published: 2001-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! MOST girls will like it!!! I'm 15 and have an oriental background, so it was really enjoyable to learn about a geisha! The story was amazing and I couldn't put it down! I hope to read more books like this one!
Date published: 2001-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm in love Ever since I read this remarkable book I have fallen in love with Japan. I am on a new journey to discover as much about Japan as I can. I will read the book over and over I'm sure!
Date published: 2000-12-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fairy Tale Ending An informative novel with an interesting story line. However, the historic integrity of the novel was jeopardized by the disappointing fairy tale ending.
Date published: 2000-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting A constant page turner...couldn't put it down!! Arthur Golden has written a masterpiece that makes you want to travel back in time to Gion, Japan!! I know what all the women in my life will be getting for XMas!!
Date published: 2000-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha Knowing nothing of the Japanese culture I began to read this book and was completely absorbed by the life of a Geisha and Japanese culture. It's a fabulous story!!
Date published: 2000-12-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing Mediocrity After having read so many "rave" reviews of Memoirs of a Geisha, I suppose the disappointment this book presents can be blamed partially on myself. This is the typical "girl-meets-boy" story, merely transposed into a foreign territory, thereby ensuring the story's appeal. Certainly this is better than most of the tripe written nowadays, but if you're expecting a truly meaningful book, this is not it.
Date published: 2000-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pleasure to read (and re-read) Without a doubt, this is the best book I have ever read. The author's descriptions brings you, and keeps you, deep in the story. He evokes such empathy for his heroine from the reader. The worst part of the book was having no more to read. I will definitely re-read this book.
Date published: 2000-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I thought this book must have been the best one i have ever read. And the fact that it is true is just increadible. This book brings you so close to the it. The ending was just increadible. It made me so interested it Japan and it's culture. I would definatly recomend it to anyone
Date published: 2000-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellet! I am in the middle of this book now, at the part where she is going to get her danna. Before i started reading this, i wasn't to sure what a geisha actually was, and now i could probobly give an hour long speech on everything i have learned from this book. It is a very informative novel, and interesting, too. It is one of those books you can't put down, and even when you are not reading it you are still wondering about the bool and what is going to happen next. right now i am living in this book. Anyways, this is a very good historical book too. really good!
Date published: 2000-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Journey into the geisha world I found this novel to revel in it's descriptive nature of a geisha's true life. Journey into the unbound territory of a geisha's hardship to survive and surpass in japan's historic past. A true educational lesson in japan's past culture encompassed by compassion and delight in a little girl's upbringing.
Date published: 2000-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good The story of Nitta Sayuri (Chiyo)is a good one. This story may not change your life or spellbind you, but reveals a moment in history that I knew very little about. The story was somewhat predictable but still interesting. If you are not interested in reading about history or culture this isn't a book for you, however, if you are looking to find a new land, culture and a chance to learn a little something give this book a read. Worth reading again, one that I will keep on my shelves.
Date published: 2000-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Journey! This book took me on an amazing journey. It captured me from the very first chapter and it was very well written. I've never known or heard of geisha before or anything about the lifestyle and culture so this book was very fascinating. I had to check several times to make sure that the author was a male because the way he wrote, it was as if it was told by a real geisha and truly through the eyes of a female! I highly recommend this book, it's like nothing I've ever read before!
Date published: 2000-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Memiors of Memoirs of a Geisha This is an amazing book. The way this man wrights is spectacular. The book is about a japenese girl who is taken from her home and put in an Osaka in a town far away.She is trained to be a geisha but gets into so much troble that she has the oppertunity taken away from her.Later on in the book she becomes a geisha with the help of the famous geisha,Memehma.Her adventures are...I just can't put it into words.Anyone who has ever read this book will agree,this is one of the best books I have ever read.
Date published: 2000-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I liked the story so much I went out and bought the book for two of my closest friends.
Date published: 2000-08-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from New Worlds Discovered I must say from the start that I was enthralled with this novel. Not so much for its literary merit, for while it is well written, it's certainly not a revelation, but for its account of Japan in the first half of the century. The research that went into the descriptions of the lives of the characters and of the times in Kyoto is very thorough, and the presentation of the novel as a biography (it begins with a translator's note while in fact the novel was written in English) makes the reader wonder if this really is a fictional piece or a true story. What makes this novel particularly interesting however is that to a novice of Japanese culture, this book is a real eye-opener. It's simple, the story line flows nicely and the characters are very well constructed, but the appeal is in the depiction of traditions and, specifically, of the art of geisha. The historical elements as the Second World War breaks, and Gion becomes a shadow of its former self, and the cultural ones as we learn all about the superstitions of geisha give the final touch and setting to this chronicle. To someone, like me, who had only vague notions of Japan, this book gave me a great hunger to discover more about this country and read Japanese authors to further acquaint myself with this culture. I hope this novel will inspire you to do the same.
Date published: 2000-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply the Best I read this novel in two days flat. Being an Asian-Canadian woman, I related to many of the situations. The characters in the novel seemed so real, in fact, reminding me of my own ancestors. It is a realistic portrayal of the geisha life, and the hardships most geishas encounter during their development into womanhood. I enjoyed the book so much that I told my mother about it. She read it one day flat.
Date published: 2000-07-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's alright If you're looking for novel that will move you and astonish you in ways you haven't imagined before, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for some entertainment to pass the time quite easily, this novel would be suitable. It is very easy to read, without confusing time lapses some novels tend to do. A nice entertaining novel that just consumes time but does not contribute anything or take away anything. I did not feel that I wasted my time and I don't believe I've learnt anything from it. My emotions were not in anyway moved, if you're looking for a tear jerker. I read this novel in less than 3 days so it can't be that bad, but it is very predictable.
Date published: 2000-07-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's alright If you're looking for novel that will move you and astonish you in ways you haven't imagined before, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for some entertainment to pass the time quite easily, this novel would be suitable. It is very easy to read, without confusing time lapses some novels tend to do. A nice entertaining novel that just consumes time but does not contribute anything or take away anything. I did not feel that I wasted my time and I don't believe I've learnt anything from it. My emotions were not in anyway moved, if you're looking for a tear jerker. I read this novel in less than 3 days so it can't be that bad, but it is very predictable.
Date published: 2000-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ~~!!!ToTaLlY a MuSt ReAd!!!~~ I bought this book when I was on vacation and it kept my busy during 6 flights and all that in-between time! Its a fascinating story about a culture that I knew little about or even existed! Definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about different cultures, people, places :o)
Date published: 2000-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An encaptivating novel Memoirs of a Geisha was one of the best books that I ever read. I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it. Arthur Golden has produced a masterpiece that is truly timeless.
Date published: 2000-07-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Yawn I found this book to be quite frankly a waste of time and paper. It suffers from far too much historical detail which became annoying and repetative after awhile, and not enough plot. The characters, especially the geisha herself, are flat and poorly developed, and as such, I found myself caring very little what happened to them. The ending felt tacked on and unconvincing. I did not feel that the geisha had learned or discovered anything throughout her experiences making the novel also lacking in theme. I'm just glad I borrowed this book and therefore did not waste any money on it.
Date published: 2000-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was fabulous This book I could not put down. It made you feel like you were there living the life of a Geisha. This book opened my eyes to was these women went through and how they are thought of by the mainstream. This is one of the best books I have ever read and i still can't believe that it was written by a man. Very well done!!!
Date published: 2000-07-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Waste of Time I was hesistant to read this book because of all the hype, and I probably would have been better off had I not. At its best moments (the geisha's early life and her struggles in WWII), it's still little better than average. The writing style is amateurish, the historical details excessive and repetative, the characters like cardboard cut-outs, the plot non-existent, and the ending ultimately unsatisfying. Golden should have spent more time developping a compelling plot and characters and less time cramming in unnecessary information. I am a huge fan of historical fiction when it is done well, but this is not.
Date published: 2000-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulously unreal I'll admit that I didn't know much about this book before I bought it. However, I am glad that I chose to read it. Mr. Golden did a superb job of narrating this story from the point of view of an aging geisha. It is hard to believe that this is not a true biography. The use of words and colours are so well chosen that one would think this world was real. I have never encountered a male author who could write so well from a female's perspective. Bravo, Mr. Golden!
Date published: 2000-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Written by a Male ??? Yes! Didn't he do a fantastic job? (I really liked this book) Now try Wally Lamb's debut novel "She's Come Undone" for a similar taste of entering the female psyche through the penmanship of our male counterpart! Similar yet different :)
Date published: 2000-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!!! you've to read it...
Date published: 2000-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome This book was perhaps one of the best books i've ever read in my entire life. THe story line was just simply awesome.
Date published: 2000-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! Truly incredible. The story overcomes you and takes you years back to life of a Geisha. Arthur Golden writes so convingly as a woman, a true talent. I absolutely recommend it!
Date published: 2000-06-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good bedside book Never was I impressed by so-called "bestsellers", picked up this book at the airport lounge. Probably because of the similarity to my own culture, I found it pleasantly easy to read, and hard to put down. Very seldom had I been drawn to read a book written by a man, on the intimate feelings of a woman, I was thoroughly touched, especially being the debut of the authur. It does make a good bedside reading, however I was a little disappointed in the somewhat too-good-to-be-true fate in Sayuri's later life with the chairman. Having said so, I do think that once in a life time, everyone comes across an opportunity to control his/her own destiny.
Date published: 2000-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book! I am also 15 years old and I thought that this book was excellent. I was so engrossed in this book I had to make a point of reading only a few chapters at a time to force myself not to read the whole book at one sitting. Sayuri, the girl to be geisha is a lovely story and I would recommend it for anyone who likes to read about japanese culture even though it is only about geisha women and their typical life. This book was about how a little girl came to be a geisha and the hardships that she had to suffer through in order to reach her goal. It gave me a new perspective on what part geisha played in Japan. Even though this was a rather wonderful book in my opinion, I don't recommend it for people who like any action because there is virtually none since it is a biography.
Date published: 2000-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book! I am also 15 years old and I thought that this book was excellent. I was so engrossed in this book I had to make a point of reading only a few chapters at a time to force myself not to read the whole book at one sitting. Sayuri, the girl to be geisha is a lovely story and I would recommend it for anyone who likes to read about japanese culture even though it is only about geisha women and their typical life. This book was about how a little girl came to be a geisha and the hardships that she had to suffer through in order to reach her goal. It gave me a new perspective on what part geisha played in Japan. Even though this was a rather wonderful book in my opinion, I don't recommend it for people who like any action because there is virtually none since it is a biography.
Date published: 2000-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Remarkable Not much more than an exotic fairy story, very thinly plotted but as delicately lovely and charming as a Japanese art print. (Readers who are currently shuddering: put this book down right now and go look up Toni Morrison. Thank you.) Seriously, in the pantheon of great coming-of-age literature this may not quite be 'David Copperfield'...but it's a brilliant technical triumph, better characterized than you might think (let us please make allowances for an American male author trying to interpret Japanese women, hmmm?) and very readable in it's own way.
Date published: 2000-06-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting ritualistic existence I found this book to be a bit of a slow read, but the girls sold into slavery eventually accept their fate. They even seem to enjoy it to a certain extent. The idea of only existing to please men is repulsive to most people, but they were looked up to as part of the Japanese culture. Beauty, grace, and poise. A good ending which almost makes all of the suffering worthwhile.
Date published: 2000-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Journey Hi all! I'm only 15 years of age and my reading skills are average. At first, I had second thougths of purchasing such a book, but after reading the first page, I was hooked and was VERY satisfied. Mr. Golden described events in such a detailed, but precise manner even a chile such as I could understand. Unfortunately, I finished the book within three days. I am now a great fan of this author and can not wait for more books to come. Enjoy and happy reading!
Date published: 2000-06-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Big Disappointment As a bookstore employee, I am faced almost daily with recommendations for this book, so I finally gave in to the hype and gave it a try and found myself ultimately disappointed. While the historical and cultural details were interesting (the only reason I'm giving it ** and not *), there was too much of it and the plot and characters suffered. It was more like a text book than a novel and if I want to read a text book I will. The plot was thin and it was apparant that it was contrived merely to support the history which it was too weak to do. Making matters worse was the author's repetative writing style (I lost count of how many time the tying of an obi was described). I am usually a fan of Dickensian coming of age orphan stories (for example The Cider House Rules by John Irving and The Quincunx by Charles Palliser) as the reviews allege this book to be, but the characterisations of the geisha and the rest of the characters were flat and uncompelling. I did not feel that by the end of the novel she had grown at all as a human being, and as a result found the ending utterly unsatisfying and the love story unconvincing. I ended up trading my copy to my mother for a copy a Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, which has its own share of Japanese History and culture, which I thouroughly enjoyed and is now one of my favourites.
Date published: 2000-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from well done!!! i absolutely loved this book and just as wally lamb impressed me with his sensativity, so did arthur golden. poignant and fluent, i hated for it to end
Date published: 2000-05-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Smooth read, predictable plot I don't understand the hype about this book. Yes, it's well written, but, as many of its critics have pointed out, the turns of plot and characterization are weak and uneventful. For the first two-thirds of the book we follow the plight of poor Sayuri up until her twenties; the last third wraps up her life, racing through WWII and the American occupation. A pleasant read, but I won't be pushing it on anyone.
Date published: 2000-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! This book was magnificent! I feel sad to be leaving Sayuri behind now that I've finished it. Aruthur Golden writes beautifully and so skillfully captures the heart and mind of the woman that it is hard to believe he is a man. I agree with Ryan and that, of all the books I've read recently, it rivals only the equally wonderful "Fall on Your Knees" by Anne-Marie MacDonald. A definite must-read!!
Date published: 2000-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! This book was magnificent! I feel sad to be leaving Sayuri behind now that I've finished it. Arthur Golden writes beautifully and so skillfully captures the heart and mind of the woman that it is hard to believe he is a man. I agree with Ryan and that, of all the books I've read recently, it rivals only the equally wonderful "Fall on Your Knees" by Anne-Marie MacDonald. A definite must-read!!
Date published: 2000-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read This book was a real page turner. I had to keep reading to find out what happened to Sayuri next. The author has woven an intricate story that is filled with history and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Date published: 2000-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breath Taking I bought this book in Coles bookstore and was in love with it the first time I had seen it on the shelf. When finally I had a chance to read it my heart soured to new heights as Golden told his story of a world many misinterprete. I cried; as I too felt as his character Sayuri felt in her sadness and triumphants. The book is a masterpiece that kept me up all night just to finish the book. It is worth reading twice or even three or more times. It is so well written that I felt as if I were in the book itself, living as the characters lived. This authors writing is unlike any I have encountered before. I will treasure such a book for all my life.
Date published: 2000-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Reading! This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I learned so much about the life a geisha and couldn't believe it was written by a male. If you are a person who has trouble finishing an entire novel without getting bored, this book is for you. I finished it in two nights because it was so exciting!
Date published: 2000-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't put it down! I got this book on the Chapters bargain sale, and am I ever glad that I did! It's so good! A really nice story that I couldn't put down after I read the first page. I never got anything done until I finished it! I definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2000-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha A captivating read. My life was put on hold while I lived a geisha's life!! I felt honoured to be allowed a glimpse of this secret society.
Date published: 2000-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't Say Enough This is one of my Top 10 picks of all the 100's of books I've read through out my life. Truly captivating and beautifully written. Aurthur Golden is one of those rare authors that has the talent for capturing the magical beauty and evocative writting that so many of today's authors seem to be lacking. Enough said. Give this book a try, I'm sure you won't be sorry, just look at all those wonderful reviews.
Date published: 2000-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Buy it, borrow it, steal it! It is not aften that a book totally takes me into its spell, but this one really did it. I read it every where - while cooking, watching TV with my kids, supposedly working! I needed to read and re-read the fact that it really was fiction. This was a facinating and spellbinding book. I can't wait for him to write another.
Date published: 2000-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Although I had more important things to do, they didn't get touched until the memoir was complete. Golden makes you feel as if you're living the life of a geisha alongside Sayuri. A must read!
Date published: 2000-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice and Beautiful Beautifully written book. Detailed description, characters feel real.
Date published: 2000-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from memoirs of a geisha From the moment you first pick it up - "geisha" takes you and entangles you in a world of ritual and secrets. The story is a love story and perhaps more so that of a women surviving - on par with anything by margaret laurence! Life in japan before and to some extent after WWII is captured - yet somehow some of the previous concieved notions of this culture are destroyed while others are brought to light. It is difficult to imagine that it was written by a man let alone a westerner! Golden's research appears to have been without fault. A must read!
Date published: 2000-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoirs of a Geisha Excellent reading. A wonderful book!
Date published: 2000-01-12

– More About This Product –

Memoirs of a Geisha

by Arthur Golden

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 pages, 8 × 5.1 × 0.9 in

Published: January 6, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067697175x

ISBN - 13: 9780676971750

Read from the Book

Chapter One 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." I expect you might put down your teacup and say, "Well, now, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can''t possibly have been both!" Ordinarily I''d have to laugh at myself and agree with you. But the truth is that the afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and the worst of my life. He seemed so fascinating to me, even the fish smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. If I had never known him, I''m sure I would not have become a geisha. I wasn''t born and raised to be a Kyoto geisha. I wasn''t even born in Kyoto. I''m a fisherman''s daughter from a little town called Yoroido on the Sea of Japan. In all my life I''ve never told more than a handful of people anything at all about Yoroido, or about the house in which I grew up, or about my mother and father, or my older sister — and certainly not about how I became a geisha, or what it was like to be one. Most people would much rather carry on with their fantasies that my mother and grandmother were geisha, and that I began my training in dance when I was weaned from the breast, and so on. As a matter of fact, one day many years ago I
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From the Publisher

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 Jacket

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.


About the Author

Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specializing in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer at Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.


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From Our Editors

Let novelist Arthur Golden take you on a journey to a distant and fascinating world in Memoirs of a Geisha. Meet Sayuri, one of Japan's most respected geishas. From the tender age of nine, her parents sell her into the rigid world of becoming a geisha. She learns dance, how to be the perfect woman and how to deal with jealous rivals. This evocative first novel, an international best-seller, is riveting from start to finish.

Editorial Reviews

"A startling debut.... By turns fairy tale, romance, coming of age and historical first novel, Memoirs of a Geisha is an astounding magic act." -Ottawa Citizen

"A fascinating, poignant and entirely believable tale, as delicate, intricate and beautiful as the silk kimonos so central to the story.... Captivating ... lush [and] lyrical.... This is a luxurious book, every page fat with evocative, beautiful words.... If life is a simple stream, Memoirs of a Geisha is a shimmering pebble that makes the water dance." -The Toronto Sun

"A startling act of literary impersonation, a feat of cross-cultural masquerade on the order of Kazuo Ishiguro''s The Remains of the Day.... Golden''s description of a kept woman''s fleshly epiphanies has the purity of Colette." -Vogue

"Cause for celebration.... Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance.... In the unforgettable Sayuri, Golden has found the heart and matter of a truth that lies beyond detail." -The New Yorker

"A truly engrossing story. The reader suffers, triumphs, dreams and doubts with the heroine, all the way through.... Beautifully written." -Sunday Express

"Exceptional....This is one of those rare novels that evokes a vanished world with absolute conviction." -Daily Mail

Bookclub Guide

US

1. Many people in the West think of geisha simply as prostitutes. After reading Memoirs of a Geisha, do you see the geisha of Gion as prostitutes? What are the similarities, and what are the differences? What is the difference between being a prostitute and being a "kept woman," as Sayuri puts it [p. 291]?

2. "The afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro," says Sayuri, "really was the best and the worst of my life" [p. 7]. Is Mr. Tanaka purely motivated by the money he will make from selling Chiyo to Mrs. Nitta, or is he also thinking of Chiyo''s future? Is he, as he implies in his letter, her friend?

3. In his letter to Chiyo, Mr. Tanaka says "The training of a geisha is an arduous path. However, this humble person is filled with admiration for those who are able to recast their suffering and become great artists" [p. 103]. The word "geisha" in fact derives from the Japanese word for art. In what does the geisha''s art consist? How many different types of art does she practice?

4. Does Sayuri have a better life as a geisha than one assumes she would have had in her village? How does one define a "better" life? Pumpkin, when offered the opportunity to run away, declines [p. 53]; she feels she will be safer in Gion. Is her decision wise?

5. How does Sayuri''s status at the Nitta okiya resemble, or differ from, that of a slave? Is she in fact a slave? Are Mother and Granny cruel by nature, or has the relentless life of Gion made them what they are? If so, why is Auntie somewhat more human? Does Auntie feel real affection for Sayuri and Pumpkin, or does she see them simply as chattel?

6. "We must use whatever methods we can to understand the movement of the universe around us and time our actions so that we are not fighting the currents, but moving with them" [p. 127]. How does this attitude differ from the Western notion of seizing control of one''s destiny? Which is the more valid? What are Sayuri''s feelings and beliefs about "free will"?

7. Do you see Sayuri as victimized by Nobu''s attentions, or do you feel pity for Nobu in his hopeless passion for Sayuri? Do you feel that, in finally showing her physical scorn for Nobu, Sayuri betrayed a friend, or that real friendship is impossible between a man and a woman of their respective stations?

8. How do Japanese ideas about eroticism and sexuality differ from Western ones? Does the Japanese ideal of femininity differ from ours? Which parts of the female body are fetishized in Japan, which in the West?

9. The geisha''s ritual of preparing herself for the teahouse is a very elaborate affair; how essentially does it differ from a Western women''s preparation for a date?
Why might Golden have chosen to begin his narrative with a "Translator''s Note"? What does this device accomplish for him? In Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden has done a very daring thing: he, an American man, has written in the voice of a Japanese woman. How successfully does he disguise his own voice? While reading the novel, did you feel that you were hearing the genuine voice of a woman?

10. Does the way in which the Kyoto men view geisha differ from the way they might view other women, women whom they might marry? What are the differences? How, in turn, do geisha view men? Is the geisha''s view of men significantly different from that of ordinary women? Do you find that the relationship between a geisha and her danna is very different from that between a Western man and his mistress? What has led Sayuri to think that "a geisha who expects understanding from her danna is like a mouse expecting sympathy from a snake" [p. 394]?

11. As the older Sayuri narrates her story, it almost seems as though she presents Chiyo and Sayuri as two different people. In what ways are Chiyo and Sayuri different? In what ways are they recognizably the same person?

12. Pumpkin believes that Sayuri betrayed her when she, rather than Pumpkin, was adopted by the Nitta okiya. Do you believe that Sayuri was entirely blameless in this incident? Might she have helped to make Pumpkin''s life easier while they were in the okiya together? Or has Pumpkin''s character simply been corrupted by her years with Hatsumomo and the entire cruel system that has exploited her?

13. Sayuri senses that she shares an en, a lifelong karmic bond, with Nobu [p. 295]. How might a Western woman express this same idea? During Sayuri''s life, Japan goes through a series of traumas and unprecedented cultural change: the Great Depression, the War, the American Occupation. How do the inhabitants of Gion view political events in the outside world? How much effect do such events have upon their lives? How aware are they of mainstream Japanese culture and life?

14. What personal qualities do Sayuri and Mameha have that make them able to survive and even prosper in spite of the many cruelties they have suffered? Why is Hatsumomo, for example, ultimately unable to survive in Gion? Is Sayuri the victim of a cruel and repressive system, a woman who can only survive by submitting to men? Or is she a tough, resourceful person who has not only survived but built a good life for herself with independence and even a certain amount of power?

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