Memoirs of a Geisha

“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume us completely.”
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

I was very fascinated with Japanese culture when I was a teenager and my friend warmly recommended me to read Memoirs of a Geisha and to watch the movie adaptation. Memoirs of a Geisha (first published in 1997) by Arthur Golden describes the life of Chiyo/Sayuri. She is a young girl from a fishing village. Her parents are very poor and her mother is ill and as result Chiyo ends up in Geisha house.

“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.”
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

I liked the writing style. It was slow-going, deep and almost poetic. I am no expert on Japanese writing but it made me feel like Sayuri herself had written it (that’s partly why it’s  somewhat hard for me to believe that man wrote it, man born in western country). All the metaphors were stunning. You can express pain plainly as pain or you can express different shades of pain or any other emotion.

I usually don’t read and don’t like romance element in books, yet in Memoirs of a Geisha love story was bittersweet.  Whole story seemed realistic, Sayuri didn’t choose life of geisha or to fall in love but it happens, life happens. I pretty much love everything about this book. 5/5 stars.

“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves until one day there are none. No hopes. Nothing remains.”
― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

 How- To Read Memoirs of a Geisha
1.
Very educational. You’ll learn of geisha rituals (singing, dancing, music and tea ceremony lessons) and training as well as Japanese culture and history. I don’t know if it is entirely accurate (and hey it’s fiction) but it makes you look up the facts and novel that makes you do that is really worth reading.
2.
I believe you’ll love this if you like books by Paulo Coelho and if you like to read stories that focus on one person and journey of that one person. Not too heavy book, about 500 pages. If you like action and fast pace this maybe is not the best book for you.
3.
Dont judge the book by its covers but I love the book covers from the movie. Sayuri’s eyes are lovely and it makes it easier to pick that book up and start reading it. And I loved little flower illustrations in the beginning of each chapter.
4. Look into the life of Mineko Iwasaki and her book Geisha of Gion.
5. Nothing to do with the book but movie adaptation is well done.

Have you read Memoirs of a Geisha? Do you like reading memoirs in general?

                                      Buy: Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel on Amazon

23 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Geisha

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  1. That’s interesting you say that about the movie. I’ve seen it, but have been meaning to read the book. Thank you for the review; I’ll have to add this to the list.

    1. Haha interesting why? Both are great, tthey give you the feeling that you are in Japan while you’re really on the other side of the globe and that’s what books should do

  2. I borrowed this book from a friend years ago, but never got a chance to read it. Then I picked up my own copy at a book sale, and still haven’t read it. Hopefully I get to it someday.

  3. Great review! It makes me *really* want to read this book (actually it’s in the stack in my room waiting for me to get to them . . . It might have to move up the stack. :)

    1. I don’t like comparing books with movies, yet I always end up doing it 😔 Movie is quite true to the book 😃 This one is memoir only in title, I think it’s loosely based on life of real geisha but mostly fictional.

  4. Ah, brings back old memories. *siiiigh* Loved this book! (And the movie was pretty good , too!) And I absolutely agree with you, it felt like Sayuri was the one writing the story.

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