Khalid's Reviews > Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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Apr 15, 07

bookshelves: already-read
Read in April, 2005

Memoirs of a Geisha is an amazing novel that discusses the life of a Geisha, a Japanese artist-entertainer. Both its very exotic setting, with its extremely different value system, and its fascinating plot, which grabs your interest early on and keeps you waiting for more all along, contribute to making this novel a special book worthy of reading.

The best quality in this novel, in my opinion, is the way the narrator (Chiyo), tells the story. Her reflections concerning much of the events in the novel are very similar to those of the reader. At least I felt I could connect with her, and approved of – even if I didn't always agree with – many of her actions. The pain she suffered is well-depicted in the novel, we almost start to feel that pain with her; we often share the same surprises with her about the different things a geisha should or should not do, and even share the pleasures of success regardless of the fact that most of us despise the geisha way of life.

A slave, sold by your own family, and trained for the sole purpose of pleasuring men, whether you like it or not. Imagine living such a life; I know I cannot. Yet, at some point, you are happy that Chiyo succeeded in becoming a geisha. If that's an indication of anything, it's the skills of the author.

They say a geisha is no prostitute; well, that may be true, but as the story truly shows, the main revenue for a geisha is through sex, at least when she is a successful one. To me, sex for money, no matter how much you sugar coat it, is still some form of prostitution.

I don't like what she did with Nobu, but I understand her perspective. Our emotions are not necessarily affected by how other people treat us, but by how we feel about their behavior. The chairman in my opinion was much more the Chiyo type than Nobu is, and her dedication to reach him amazes me, though not the methods she used to achieve it after her desperation.

The destruction of Hatsumomo was, in my opinion, the brightest point in the story. I feel that the story, and the geisha life, has changed forever after the Second World War, so Chiyo, or any other geisha at the time for that matter, could not have been more successful after the war, nor could the story be more fun.

Yet, another bright point was the encounter with the Chairman. Since Pumpkin caused the Chairman to run into Chiyo and the Minister, I knew the Chairman and Chiyo are going to have a future together. In fact, when Iwamura Electric called for Chiyo to the Ichiriki Teahouse, I guessed – correctly – that Nobu won't be there, but the Chairman.

The most disappointing thing in this novel, in my opinion, is the way the author talked about the US. If the novel had talked about any other place than his country, this might have been tolerable, but when an American author, writing a novel that takes place in Japan for the most part, makes the main character fall in love with the US, and talks about it like a country much better than Japan, there is something wrong. Unless, and I hope this is the case, he did this mainly because the actual geisha upon which he based his novel had described this to him. Then I might accept it.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Kemler51 (new)

Kemler51 I read this amazing exotic book several years ago after my friend gave it to me for Christmas...I loved the poetic quality but also the brutal truth of the historic accounts. Simply one of the most riveting books I have read.

message 2: by Anoud (last edited Nov 19, 2008 04:19PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anoud a veeery nice review :)

as for the way the author talks about U.S, i felt it was just a bias perspective.

message 3: by Christin (new)

Christin You should mark this review as having spoilers. I got to, "The destruction of Hatsumomo was, in my opinion, the brightest point in the story." and felt a little betrayed. I haven't read it yet, so thanks for telling me part of the ending.

Tilly I agree with a lot of the points in this review and especially enjoyed the idea that the reader is emotionally 'torn' in a way between their dislike of the geisha proffession and their desire for chiyo to succeed in becoming one. Very clever writing by golden, I was astounded that an american man had written this book and loved reading it!

suhair couldn't say it better myself,great review =)

Clif Concerning the depiction of America, I think it was a different place then than now. WW2 spawned the overwhelming self-righteousness that has us running all over the world telling people how to live (like us).

message 7: by Maryam (new)

Maryam A Well written review that made me wanna read the book :) !

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