Katie's Reviews > Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
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's review
Aug 20, 2008

did not like it
Read in August, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I've read this book 3 times now and each time I pick it up, I forget how much I disliked reading it the last time. On the surface, the book presents an interesting subject. The life of a geisha is fascinating, especially to a westerner who has little knowledge of Japanese culture. Golden does do a fine job describing the day to day rituals, life and culture of a Kyoto geisha in the 1930's.

However, once you get past the exotic subject matter, the plot proves itself to be particularly trite and inane. The Chairman comforts Sayrui when she is very young and distressed; she then falls in love with him after this brief encounter and spends the next 20 years or so of her life attempting to find some way to be with him. Her devotion remains strong, despite the fact that the Chairman never shows any inclination that he cares for her at all or that he even realizes that the talented geisha Sayuri is the little girl that he once gave his handkerchief to. She is an intelligent and resourceful woman, yet she can see no other way to be happy in her life than to be the object of the Chairman's affection.

Golden ties up the novel with a neat little bow. After Sayuri has betrayed Nobu - a man who has for years proven that he will respect and care for her - the Chairman confesses that he has always loved Sayuri and that he is the reason why Mameha decided to become Sayuri's older sister. He becomes Sayuri's danna and convinces her to give up the life of a geisha, isolating Sayuri from the only life and people she has ever known. The whole story feels implausible.

While Golden attempts to write in a very flowery and elegant style, it comes across as forced and clunky and is ultimately distracting from the story.
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02/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7)

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Renee The only part of this review I agree with is that Sayuri ending up with the Chairman was awkward and not the best ending imaginable. Nobu would have made much more sense. I also knew his character better.

Claudette I thought this book was pretty much the same story as Gone With The Wind, but not as well written, and set in Japan. I found much of it imitative, and very little of it enjoyable. I agree with the one star review and would ask why on earth you would read it 3 times!

Lindsey Paydon why the heck do you keep reading it? haha

Rachel Snow That Deux Ex Machina ending made me so annoyed. "It's okay, I've always loved you. But I never could tell you because my BFF was into you. And it's totally cool you betrayed him because you find him unattractive. Let's have babies."

message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim i'm confused as to why you would read a book you clearly do not like a second and third time.

message 2: by Sparrowlicious (new)

Sparrowlicious I love how everyone's just nitpicking about the 'I read it three times and I hate it' thing. lol The story as you describe it sounds extremely implausible. 20 years to get a man? Every real person would've given up. Weird romantic bull... you know what.

Samantha I think for me or the way I interpret it her devotion to the Chairman is as much a focus for her to get through each day a substitute for her lost family and sister because for a long time she didn't even know who he was he was just a myth she had built up in her own mind after their initial brief meeting. The romance only develops once she gets to know him.

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