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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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Memoirs of a Geisha (original 1997; edition 2005)

by Arthur Golden

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
29,32647031 (4.01)465
Member:TLHelen
Title:Memoirs of a Geisha
Authors:Arthur Golden
Info:Vintage (2005), Edition: Film Tie-in Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Rating:*****
Tags:geisha, Japan, war, life, belonging

Work details

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

  1. 170
    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. 184
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See (goodiegoodie)
  3. 62
    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (caflores)
  4. 40
    Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Beautifully written story of a geisha who fares better than Sayo Masuda.
  5. 51
    Empress Orchid by Anchee Min (krizia_lazaro)
  6. 20
    Geisha in Rivalry by Nagai Kafu (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)
  7. 20
    Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner (Catt172)
  8. 31
    Geisha by Liza Dalby (SqueakyChu, MartinRohrbach, Leishai)
    Leishai: Ein gutes Buch für Europäer oder Amerikaner zum Verständnis der japanischen Geisha-Kultur.
  9. 20
    The pillow book by Sei Shonagon (brightbel)
  10. 10
    Kimonos (365 Series) by Sophie Milenovich (JuliaMaria)
  11. 01
    Still Life With Rice by Helie Lee (amanaceerdh)
  12. 01
    Jia: A Novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim (meggyweg)
  13. 01
    The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (cransell)
  14. 05
    The Physician by Noah Gordon (MartinRohrbach)
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» See also 465 mentions

English (445)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  Italian (1)  All (1)  Finnish (1)  All (467)
Showing 1-5 of 445 (next | show all)
This is the story of a little girl sold into what is essentially high-class white slavery and the drama that her life includes. Taking Japan all the way through WWII, you learn what it was like to be a Geisha before the laws stated that a girl cannot begin her training until 16. You follow her search for a balance of love and life, and how she obtains it. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
By starting with what purports to be a 'translators note' this book puts the reader into the mindset that the events laid out before them are real. It the dives into the narrative, which takes the reader through the intricacies of the life of a geisha from the point of view of someone who was sold into that life as a child. Granted, this also helps the reader to forget that this was written by a westerner (an outsider, no matter how much the subject may have been studied) as a work of fiction. But it is still well-written, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to.
  GretchenLynn | Jun 1, 2017 |
Finally finished it after putting it down so many times over the last couple months or so. I did enjoy it and was enjoying it at the time but it's a heavy book for me personally, so I kept having to put it down. It ended the way I wanted it to. How she went about things some may not agree with, but I understand the why behind it. I watched the movie some years ago and decided to read the book when I saw it in the book store...Glad I picked it up. :-) ( )
  obridget2 | May 14, 2017 |
Oh my goodness, what an amazing and beautiful book! I read this book three years after I saw the movie. I loved the movie so much I didn't want to read the book and become disappointed in the story.

I'm glad I put distance between seeing the movie and reading the book. I haven't seen the movie since it's first viewing. So I remembered certain things and not others, so reading the book was with fresh eyes.

The book was so thick with detail and character depth and struggle and insight. I was so shocked that this man has written not only a book about a woman, and written his female characters so well, but wrote about a geisha, which is not just any kind of woman. I was so impressed at how he could embody these female characters and make them so life-like. I've read several books where I feel like the author absolutely cannot capture the opposite sex at all. For instance, Twilight (although this is too easy). Does Stephanie Meyers really think that real men are like her male characters? She has no insight into a man's brain at all. It's as if she's only watched soap operas her entire life. How boring.

But Memoirs...oh wow, I cannot explain just how much I absorbed this book. I hated to put it down to go to work. I hated having to go to bed! I was most interested in the geisha life more than anything. I pleased to read in the acknowledgments that Golden actually met and shadowed one of the last geisha still alive who was trained in the ways of the 1930's/1940s geisha were. I know that today's geisha are not at all the geisha that once were. So I loved how this book could almost be a historical fiction.

I won't lie. I want a kimono and the experience of being old school geisha, just once, just to see how it is, how I would be, could I do it even.

The writing was lyrical and detailed but without overdoing it. What a wonderful book. I've put the book "Geisha" by Liza Dalby who is the only American woman welcome into the world of geisha just to get a modern woman's feeling of that world. Golden also used Liza as a reference for this book. This author did an amazing job of really trying to get into the world and the time and the lives of these women. I am so impressed and would recommend this book to everyone! ( )
  wendithegray | May 1, 2017 |
A truly extraordinary book and one told with knowledge, a little sympathy, and a lot of insight into this world. And it is its own world, with schools, okiya where the geisha and their maids live, ceremonies and rituals, and beautifully embroidered kimonos. The character interactions show the universality of humans and to know that bullying goes on everywhere was a healing touch for me. Highly recommend, and one I immersed myself into. ( )
  threadnsong | Apr 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 445 (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.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Golden, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cobb, JodiCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Wilde, BarbaraCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege, GiselaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinstein, IrisDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
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People/Characters
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Epigraph
[None]
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. (Translator's note)
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.' (Chapter one)
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.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:27 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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