Cherr's Reviews > Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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's review
Jun 26, 11

bookshelves: books-i-own, w-adaptation, historical-fiction
Read from June 12 to 26, 2011

When I was about thirteen, my parents rented a movie about girls who had thick white make-up on wearing another country's official clothing with their hair up in a particular way. I thought of them as girls who were talented, dancers or performers, but were merely prostitutes who were supported and paid for to entertain men in a different way. The story is simple, really. They were separated from their families at a young age, trained to be one of the girls, had issues with other girls who dressed and looked like them and lived in houses so close to each other you'd think the whole city was a school training girls from all over the place.

They are called Geisha, as I'd learned later on. They were taken from their families for a particular amount of money and are trained up to showcase their talents and entertain. They are not given options and choices, they are brought up to respond and act to the orders or needs of the people around them. They dress for the people they entertain, drink for their guests, watch while their guests eat, talk to keep them company, work for their own okiya and give up their mizuage for those who want so much to have them. They believe their lives turn and go about with what is stated in their almanacs, referring to it before they do anything else. But as simple as their lives may seem, theirs are much more complicated.

It was not until 5 years later that I tried to get back to watching the movie. After that, I found it really amazing that I had to watch it all over again. But it is only now that I truly appreciate it.

Some film adaptations stay true to the book. Others take the main plot and alter it. It was a great adaptation. Probably one of the best book-to-movie films of all time. I found it rather disappointing that Nobu from the movie was not the Nobu I'd just read though. The Nobu from the book, despite his potato-like skin and lost arm, is much more lovable and desirable. He was a great man, greater than Chairman in my opinion. I found it stupid of Sayuri to still linger, for a long long time, over her one-time encounter of the Chairman that she had closed herself from feeling things for someone else who deserved her as well. As for Nobu, I feel as though his story had just been disregarded to present a sweeter ending. It was clever however to present him as the type of man who would do exactly what he did after learning about Sayuri's betrayal. I love him though, and I can't seem to let him be disregarded like that.

One thing I loved most about this book was that it makes you really feel like it was written while a Geisha was dictating every detail of her life. Every detail makes you feel closer to the actual setting. Another thing I loved most about this book was the idea of making the Chairman look uninterested, since he was mostly separated from the events in Sayuri's life, only to present him later on as the one all along. I'm a great believer of the so-called "true love" as well so I understand very well why they'd cut the movie after Chairman's confession. It was a remarkable sight as compared to the confession setting from the book. I think they meant to save that setting for a scene so great, so true.
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