What I love most about this book is how well it puts you into Japanese culture in the early 20th century. The characters, both loved and hated, are deep, multi-faceted embodiments of that culture. Sometimes while reading a book the stage set by the author becomes more real than your own surroundings. You become so enthralled in the story that you almost believe if you visited the era you could walk into a scene from the book. Even years later the details remain firm in your mind. This is a well-written, strong book that also enlightens and explains Japanese culture. I loved learning exactly what a geisha is and what the Japanese value and desire in them. I was both interested and at times appalled at Japanese cultural tendencies and forever twisted into this girl's life. A fantastic read.