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Memoirs of a Geisha

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Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden

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Format: Paperback / softback, 503 pages
Published In: United States, 01 November 2005
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.
We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And "Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

"From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Arthur Golden was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at Harvard College, where he received a degree in art history, specializing in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an M.A. in Japanese history from Columbia University, where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. Following a summer at Beijing University, he worked in Tokyo, and, after returning to the United States, earned an M.A. in English from Boston University. He resides in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children. "From the Trade Paperback edition."


"Astonishing . . . breathtaking . . . You are seduced completely." --Washington Post Book World"Captivating, minutely imagined . . . a novel that refuses to stay shut." --Newsweek"A story with the social vibrancy and narrative sweep of a much-loved 19th century bildungsroman. . . . This is a high-wire act. . . . Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance." --The New Yorker"From the Trade Paperback edition."

EAN: 9781400096893
ISBN: 1400096898
Publisher: Vintage Books USA
Dimensions: 17.12 x 11.79 x 2.77 centimetres (0.23 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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18 review(s)
All Reviews
Renata West on
nice read, very emotive and almost like poetry the way GOLDEN writes
Claire Auchinvole on
This is an engrossing story that sweeps you into a different culture from start to finish. The character creation is superb, you will laugh and cry while realising that this is based on a culture which actually existed and most of these events probably happened so someone, somewhere. The story explained so anyone can follow the unfamiliar customs - I first read this when I was 13 and it enlightened me into a world I never knew of or appreciated.

Do not see the film, read the book.
Simon Murphy on
This is a great story, sweeping the reader up right from the beginning. The author makes it very easy to empathise with the characters involved. Make sure you read the book before you see the movie, it's just fantastic!

On the negative side, there were spaces throughout the book where it seemed to drag a little, but the intensity of emotion felt elsewhere is certainly worthwhile.
Max Foster on
I enjoyed this book, but I have to say there are parts of it that drag on a bit. That is probably because I saw the movie. However, the extra depth that the book has reveals much more about the characters and made it a good read. Well written and reasonably well paced.
Matthew Bach on
This is a book that grabs you from the very beginning, being very easy to read, as it takes you through the life of a young girl. It gives a good strong portrait of life in Japan and a good history as well. It didn't seem like a fiction until you get to the end and find out it is. Even though it has very sad moments, there are comical moments that keep it lighthearted in many ways. I would recommend this book - and even more with the movie!
May Lee Weernink on
If you've seen the movie, you will want to read the book. It paints such a vivid image of life as a geisha in early Japan, and transports the reader into the mind of a young girl whose life has been chosen for her. Much more detail and story than is shown in the movie. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in Japan!
Sian McEwen on
I just finished this novel and loved it! Wonderfully evocative, with a story that just keeps you gripped, this novel is going to be around for a very long time. It was hard to remember it was written by a man, the detailing was superb, the characters seemed so real, and you really cared about what happend to the heroine. I can definately recommend this book.
diver dan on
wow everyone seems to like this book um im going to have to be the dissenting voice and say no not a good book. its long arduous and a tedious read at the best of times. at the worst of times its a book that you keep reading because you have to finish it before you can call it crap. so no not a fan of this book maybe not my target audience but i dont care i didnt like it.
Phillip Nguyen on
Arthur Golden has certainly done his research on this one. Through this novel, he rectifies western misconceptions about Geisha's being prostitutes. The story of Sayuri and her journey as a Geisha working in Kyoto allows us privileged glimpse into the Geisha as an artist. The story is extremely charming, creating a world entirely different to western civilisation's. My only dislike was how the characters were portrayed one-dimensionally (evident in the dialgoue), but that aside, Memoirs of a Geisha makes excellent reading.
Alysia Strong on
A masterpiece. This book transports you through time, to an exotic and forbidden world of the geisha. The detail and strong descriptions make you feel you are inside the book, living every experience and feeling every emotion. I actually thought this was a non-fiction book written by a real geisha, it is so well written, and realistic. Highly entertaining and educational, recommended to all.

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