Zoe's Reviews > Geisha, a Life

Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki
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Aug 21, 12


When I was very young I found Memoirs of a Geisha on my mother's bookshelf. A couple years later, drawn by the book's cover, I decided to give it a try. I was horrified with the Geisha system portrayed by the book, and yet intrigued at the same time. How could a system based on luxury and tradition be so corrupt?

Just recently I read Geisha: A Life and I couldn't believe how different the two books were. Where Arthur Golden took you into the deceiving and nasty image of slavery and sex among girls living as a geisha, Mineko Iwasaki provided an alternate view where a geisha to maintain a relationship with clients at an artistic level.

Both stories were captivating: but which one do you believe? While it is doubtful that the world of Japanese geisha were as sex based as Golden described, I find it hard to believe that Iwasaki's version of it is the full truth. Both books, however, do give the impression that the geisha community, the "willow and flower" world, are far too private and elite to talk openly about such things. I imagine that if corruptions such as described in Memoires did exist, they would happen behind closed doors and kept as quiet as possible.

As for the book itself, I give 4 stars. It was interesting, and certainly grabbed my attention, but it did not give me a sense of connection to the character.
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