Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha 
Arthur Golden
Historical fiction

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable.

I'd like to focus on one word in the above synopsis- unforgettable. In my memory, I don't think I used that to describe any book I reviewed here (granted, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson I read before), so I hope it has the desired effect when I say Memoirs of a Geisha was UNFORGETTABLE. 

Recommended to me by a really good friend who just said he knows I'll love it, I came at it with no expectations, good or a bad. I was sucked in before I even figured out if it was an actual memoir or not. The author managed to get into the head of a young Japanese girl and follow her story over the years in a way I didn't realize was possible- as if Sayuri was sitting across from me and telling me the story herself. Her personality shone through in every word I read- and boy is she classy. 

The story was the most compelling I've read in a long time. The whole week I was reading it I was just waiting for free time to see what happened next. The setting and the plot are fascinating- Japan before and after WWII, and more specifically, a Geisha district. I know little about Japanese culture, and had never before known about the Geisha system. In the beginning I thought I understood, that they were basically entertaining prostitutes. As you read you understand that that is completely untrue, and their importance and self-respect is evident on the pages. 

I quickly fell in love with Sayuri, with Gion and with all it's inhabitants. I was amazed at how she viewed the world, and by her resilience in the face of troubles. It was refreshing how the book was told in hindsight, with our narrator adding in details she found out later and some interesting tidbits from her older life in New York. Sayuri's story wasn't scary or heartbreaking, but somehow stayed with me like no other book has before.

I recommend this book to everyone from teens up. It was absolutely UNFORGETTABLE.
Rating: 5 stars. I apologize, they're being wonky today.


  1. I totally agree. Loved this book.I need to read it again. Great review.

  2. I remember when I was a kid, my cousins watched this and kicked me out of the room. I've always been very curious about the story and I'm glad to hear it's good! I'm into reading more memoir- type stories so I believe this would be a great start. :)

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex


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