HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Loading...

Memoirs of a Geisha (1997)

by Arthur Golden

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
27,07342537 (4.01)404
  1. 140
    Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki (Leishai, sbuehrle)
    Leishai: Arthur Golden schrieb einen Roman über Geishas. Mineko Iwasaki war die Geiko, die er dafür interviewte. Sie stellt in ihrem Buch alles richtig, was er sich zu dramatischen Zwecken zurechtgeschnitten hat.
    sbuehrle: I would recommend reading these books back-to-back. Memoirs of a Geisha is the fictional account of Iwasaki's life, whereas Geisha: A Life is the autobiographical response.
  2. 174
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (goodiegoodie)
  3. 51
    Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (krizia_lazaro)
  4. 52
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  5. 31
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  6. 20
    Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Beautifully written story of a geisha who fares better than Sayo Masuda.
  7. 10
    Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner (Catt172)
  8. 10
    Geisha in Rivalry by Kafu Nagai (normandie_m)
    normandie_m: Set slightly earlier and in Tokyo, but also worth reading for exploring the relationship dynamics between geisha and their patrons, who come from a variety of different backgrounds. Also offers insight into the relationships/friendships between the different geisha.… (more)
  9. 10
    The pillow book by Sei Shonagon (brightbel)
  10. 01
    The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (cransell)
  11. 01
    Still Life With Rice by Helie Lee (amanaceerdh)
  12. 01
    Jia: A Novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim (meggyweg)
  13. 04
    The Physician by Noah Gordon (MartinRohrbach)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 404 mentions

English (399)  Spanish (9)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  Italian (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (421)
Showing 1-5 of 399 (next | show all)
I read this book after I watched the movie, so that may perhaps influence my thoughts on this book.

It follows Chiyo, the daughter of a poor fisherman who is sold into an okiyama -a geisha house- and follows her path to become one of the most well known geishas in the world.

I loved and hate many things in the book that I almost can't decide whether I liked or hated this book. I loved the writing style, the characterization, and just the entire development of the story. The writing style is absolutely phenomenal - it delivers the tone of a person telling a story, yet it doesn't sound like it's purely reciting a memory. The author sets the scene so dramatically, I can picture the kimonos and the house she lives it. I loved the story. I loved learning about the slow transition from a uncultured fishergirl to a geisha, the backstabbing stories, the subtle battles between two geishas, etc. This was a world I loved learning about - and it delivered in the most spectacular way - by making me fall in love with the world, with the descriptions, with the voice.

But I hated the romance. This is why I gave it two stars. I just cannot reconcile this romance to myself - so maybe you will love the book and have absolutely no problems. But I have an issue with having a tightly held dream romance in your heard that never seems to go anywhere - until at the very end (all of a sudden!) it is reconciled and resolved. The grittiness and the down to earth air of the rest of the book doesn't match with romance, which are dreams in the sky - there are no interactions between the characters to justify the ending. And ending is so, so important to me because it is the last taste of the book.

So I gave this book two and a half stars, rounded down, even though I loved so many parts of it because in the end, I can only say it was okay. Recommended if you love the concept of geishas and Japan and a beautiful story. Not recommended if you want a good romance novel. I won't reread this, but I don't regret reading it. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
I read this book after I watched the movie, so that may perhaps influence my thoughts on this book.

It follows Chiyo, the daughter of a poor fisherman who is sold into an okiyama -a geisha house- and follows her path to become one of the most well known geishas in the world.

I loved and hate many things in the book that I almost can't decide whether I liked or hated this book. I loved the writing style, the characterization, and just the entire development of the story. The writing style is absolutely phenomenal - it delivers the tone of a person telling a story, yet it doesn't sound like it's purely reciting a memory. The author sets the scene so dramatically, I can picture the kimonos and the house she lives it. I loved the story. I loved learning about the slow transition from a uncultured fishergirl to a geisha, the backstabbing stories, the subtle battles between two geishas, etc. This was a world I loved learning about - and it delivered in the most spectacular way - by making me fall in love with the world, with the descriptions, with the voice.

But I hated the romance. This is why I gave it two stars. I just cannot reconcile this romance to myself - so maybe you will love the book and have absolutely no problems. But I have an issue with having a tightly held dream romance in your heard that never seems to go anywhere - until at the very end (all of a sudden!) it is reconciled and resolved. The grittiness and the down to earth air of the rest of the book doesn't match with romance, which are dreams in the sky - there are no interactions between the characters to justify the ending. And ending is so, so important to me because it is the last taste of the book.

So I gave this book two and a half stars, rounded down, even though I loved so many parts of it because in the end, I can only say it was okay. Recommended if you love the concept of geishas and Japan and a beautiful story. Not recommended if you want a good romance novel. I won't reread this, but I don't regret reading it. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
What a disappointment. Why is it that in most books' reviews, only the marginal niche fans vote massively, upholstering the average score so unfairly. Unless, it is the romantics who do read diversely that in their unbiased way, gave the book four to five stars. Even people who gave the book the same score as me must have done so for different reasons. Maybe the ending threw them. Maybe I'll never know. I'm left scratching my head as to why this book is considered the best historical fiction on this site.

I'll pool all my misgivings from the last third of the book in this paragraph. Chiyo's outlook towards life is delusional, and is vindicated by her being united with her beau. I wonder what friends I myself would have had my life been more successful. Chiyo's memories of her past are very selective. Sometimes she wants to be a geisha, but anyway she has no choice. Her heart breaks and reseals itself over her journey in becoming one. Her infatuation with the Chairman and her laughable dressing of her repulsion to Nobu sums up the genre of romance. The book is an ungodly mess in its themes. The analogies and lesson-like counsel that passed for wisdom at the end made it all clear. This book's just an escapist dream for delusional romantics of all genders and ages. My reason for my score is mainly that at not one point did the book reel me in. I was never hooked.

I have to consider Hatsumomo, most of the book's main archenemy. She is described as stupid, but reveals herself as cunning. The latter attribute is proved beyond doubt. But her stupidity, abetted by drunkenness, only comes at the end. This was a missed opportunity to dress up a promising character. When Hatsumomo mars a kimono belonging to her rival, it's almost an act of vandalism. But we are never allowed to get the insight whether the act itself has the fuel of 30% meanness and 70% stupidity, or the other way round, or some other permutation.

I first intended to write more than I'm doing. But I want to put this book behind me quickly. I want to make two points (which is more than my favorite team can make at the moment). First, I knew that such a dishonest and cowardly book would make of the tragic Pumpkin, a mean spirited person. I knew it! Her separation from Chiyo should have been temporary. Instead, she estranges herself from joy and purpose in life in the most random way. She is very wimpy in her decision to "join the dark side". It's just not that convincing. Maybe her scavenging act early on foreshadows what the author did with her. It's not an excuse though. Second thing, the stupid and bizarre episode between Chiyo and the Baron. It should have had consequences, but it seemed like the mother of all treaties had been signed between all parties. Very inexplicable. Inexplicable but quite welcome. It's an occurrence that made me distance myself from the narrator. I don't have to be concerned with her when she troubled trouble.

This book, were it a flawed masterpiece and dealt with a genre I detest, would still have gotten more than two stars. But at no point did Memoirs reach a pinnacle or peak of sorts. No event was reciprocal, there was no theme except from a rags to riches story. Nature sometimes was described richly, but new objects of unfamiliarity and technology were glossed over, which is cool, as we're all aware of modern contrivances. It's just that everything I've mentioned makes the narrator fake. It's just sad. It means I'll never read this book again. Neither it nor I deserve it. ( )
  Jiraiya | Aug 30, 2014 |
I am giving this five stars because there isn't a single negative thing I can think of to say about this book. I devoured it, didn't want to put it down. Loved it from beginning to end. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Review #1: From start to finish I had this nagging feeling that I've read this book before -- or read a very similar story. I haven't been able to track down why this book seems so familiar. If I ever do, I'll append this journal entry. To some degree, then, this story feels derivative and cliche. Orphaned girl tries to make good with her new "family" and is harrassed by the jealous, spiteful bully. The story picks up at the 1/3 point and stops being quite so cliche as it is in the set up. The good news is that the details are so rich and the language flows smoothly enough to make this book a page turner, even in the rough start.

Review #2: I happened to be reading this book at the same time I was reading the Chobits manga series. Both books are about Japanese culture and the relationships of men and women across classes.

Memoirs of a Geisha is the fictional account of a girl aprenticing to
become a geisha in the great depression era. As the book explains -- gei
means art and geisha means artisan. It's an ironic/jaded pun for a
society/class of expensive escorts. To stay a geisha, a woman cannot marry
and should not fall in love with her clients. Chobits seems to be a sci-fi
retelling of the same tale. The underlying tensions are about what sorts of
pairings are good/normal and who should love whom. Chi is an artifice -- an
almost pun on geisha.

In both cases, Chiyo/Sayuri (of Memoirs of a Geisha) and Chi (of Chobits), are seeking happiness, wondering if happiness can be attained. In Sayuri's case, her station is supposed to keep her dispassionate in her associations with her various clients. In Chi's case, she's a machine and not supposed to feel real emotions.

Review #3: The final comparision I found myself making with this book is between Chiyo /Sayuri and Chihiro/Sen (of Sen To Chihiro Kamikakushi aka Spirited Away). Both stories revolve around young girls who are taken away from their parents through bizare circumstances and brought into lives that they would otherwise not have lived. In Chihiro's case, she ultimately is returned to her parents as is warranted by the fantasy convention. Mother in Memoirs reminds me of Yubaba and Mameha reminds me of Lin in her initial reluctance to help and her later tutorilage.

Final thoughts: I think Memoirs of a Geisha has lots to offer. It may be a little rough at first but I recommend reading the book! You will come away enriched for reading it. :) ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 399 (next | show all)
Golden fills the book with vivid images and subtle descriptions of the nuances of Japanese culture, and is absolutely brilliant in his description of the customs and rituals of the geisha. Through the meticulous detail the reader can fully understand the politics, rivalries, and traditions of the Japan geisha society.
added by mikeg2 | editCNN, Ann Hastings (May 25, 1998)
 
Mr. Golden gives us not only a richly sympathetic portrait of a woman, but also a finely observed picture of an anomalous and largely vanished world. He has made an impressive and unusual debut.
 
Haarhuis's foreword and Golden's epilogue, the one appropriating the guise of a novel and the other taking it off, suggest an author who is of two minds when it comes to his work. It is not surprising, then, if his readers share this uncertainty. The decision to write an autobiographically styled novel rather than a nonfiction portrait is most obviously justified in terms of empathy, of allowing greater freedom to explore the geisha's inner life. Unfortunately, Sayuri's personality seems so familiar it is almost generic; she is not so much an individual as a faultless arrangement of feminine virtues.
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For my wife, Trudy,
and my children, Hays and Tess
First words
One evening in the spring of 1936, when I was a boy of fourteen, my father took me to a dance performance in Kyoto.
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.'
Quotations
Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be. -Nitta Sayuri
We none of us find as much kindness in this world as we should. -Chairman Iwamura
A balance of good and bad can open the door to destiny.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781587, Paperback)

The first thing you notice about the audio version of Memoirs of a Geisha is that Arthur Golden's 428-page novel has been reduced to a scant two cassettes. But dismay quickly gives way to mounting pleasure as Elaina Erika Davis (Contact, As the World Turns) begins her delicate rendering of geisha culture in the years before World War II. Davis reads the abbreviated story of Sayuri with an authentic-sounding Japanese accent--one mixed with a magical combination of Asian reserve and theatrical energy. As Sayuri ages from a 9-year-old peasant girl to a popular geisha in her late 20s, Davis directs her voice gently away from curious youth to a tone that reflects Sayuri's uphill life.

From start to finish, the listener is absorbed in the elegant spirit of Davis's performance, eager to hear the next chapter of Sayuri's transformation into one of the most famous geishas of the century. How unfortunate, then, to learn that book readers not only get the basic story, but a fascinating look at the intricate rules and rituals of geisha culture. Here, for example, is one of the many revelations omitted from the cassette: "Japanese men, as a rule, feel about a woman's neck and throat the same way that men in the West might feel about a woman's legs.... In fact, a geisha leaves a tiny margin of skin bare all around the hairline, causing her makeup to look even more artificial.... When a man sits beside her, he becomes that much more aware of the bare skin beneath."

We're also denied several subplots--the aborted friendship between Sayuri and a geisha named Pumpkin, for example, or much of the story involving the man Sayuri is secretly in love with. But what remains is as precious as a traditional Japanese kimono--at once artistic, suggestive, and moving. --Ann Senechal

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:46 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Because her mother is dying and her father old, Chiyo, nine, is sold to a wealthy geisha house in Gion where she learns her trade and works it in the 1930s and 1940s.

» see all 14 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.01)
0.5 10
1 96
1.5 30
2 323
2.5 91
3 1455
3.5 345
4 3089
4.5 355
5 2732

Audible.com

Four editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,967,743 books! | Top bar: Always visible