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Memoirs of a Geisha [Hardcover]

Arthur Golden
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (469 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Oct 2000
This seductive and evocative epic tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. It reveals the cruelty and ugliness of life behind the rice-paper screens, and summons up more than 20 years of Japan's most dramatic history.

Frequently Bought Together

Memoirs of a Geisha + Memoirs of a Geisha [DVD] + Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan's Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; New edition edition (5 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701169699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701169695
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (469 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The first thing you notice about the audio version of Memoirs of a Geisha is that Arthur Golden's 428-page novel has been reduced to a scant two cassettes. But dismay quickly gives way to mounting pleasure as Elaina Erika Davis (Contact, As the World Turns) begins her delicate rendering of geisha culture in the years before the second world war. Davis reads the abbreviated story of Sayuri with an authentic-sounding Japanese accent--one mixed with a magical combination of Asian reserve and theatrical energy. As Sayuri ages from a 9-year-old peasant girl to a popular geisha in her late 20s, Davis directs her voice gently away from curious youth to a tone that reflects Sayuri's uphill life.

From start to finish, the listener is absorbed in the elegant spirit of Davis's performance, eager to hear the next chapter of Sayuri's transformation into one of the most famous geishas of the century. How unfortunate, then, to learn that book readers not only get the basic story, but a fascinating look at the intricate rules and rituals of geisha culture. Here, for example, is one of the many revelations omitted from the cassette: "Japanese men, as a rule, feel about a woman's neck and throat the same way that men in the West might feel about a woman's legs .... In fact, a geisha leaves a tiny margin of skin bare all around the hairline, causing her makeup to look even more artificial .... When a man sits beside her, he becomes that much more aware of the bare skin beneath."

We're also denied several subplots--the aborted friendship between Sayuri and a geisha named Pumpkin, for example, or much of the story involving the man Sayuri is secretly in love with. But what remains is as precious as a traditional Japanese kimono--at once artistic, suggestive and moving. --Ann Senechal --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.


"'Intimate and brutal, written in cool, lucid prose it is a novel whose psychological empathy and historical truths are outstanding'" (Mail on Sunday)

"'Endless and fascinating - a narrative that is both gripping and beautifully paced - a wonderful read'" (Observer)

"'This is a high-wire act. Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance'" (New Yorker)

"'Memoirs of a Geisha ' is the sort of novel that novel-lovers yearn for, which is to say, so convincing that while reading it you become transported to another time, another place, and feel you're listening and seeing with someone else's ears and eyes' Margaret Forster" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 12 Jan 2006
This book is probably one of the best I've ever read. It allows an insight into a culture that isn't really understood in Western society, and shows what life is actually like for a geisha of Gion. It opens your eyes to another, completely different world and does it in a way that makes you think about it from an objective point of view, rather than comparing it to our lives and culture.
Reading Memoirs of a Geisha is entertaining, funny and thought-provoking, often sad but always heart warming - despite some of the customs/events that would be shocking in the UK, you're never tempted to judge Sayuri (the main character, the geisha) for her actions. Instead you live through it with her and understand what and why she did.
This book is inspirational in that Sayuri goes through so much just to survive, and yet the way the book is written lets us see that it's not unusual for a geisha to go through even more than she did.
I would recommend Memoirs of a Geisha even to people who usually like a lighter read, because even though it's sometimes sad and makes you think a lot, it's also funny and you really feel for Sayuri. A brilliant and utterly engaging read.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mesmerising 4 Nov 2005
I used to laugh at people who would say "god i cant put this book down" but when i read this i honestly couldn't. The book practically transports you into this magical world of Japan where you get a vivid insight into the world of geisha's. I have never felt so passionate about a book before and after this my whole aspect on life changed. I may sound really over the top but;Oh my god what a read!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reason it is a bestseller 8 April 2014
A beautiful, sad , evocative, exciting and intriguing novel which engaged me from start to finish about a nine year old Japanese child, Chiyo Sakamoto , from a poor fishing village sold by her ill and poverty stricken parents into the world being a slave to the whims of men and more powerful women, though her sister Satsu suffered a far crueler fate being sold into an brothel and into the hellish world of forced prostitution.

Chiyo is a survivor, who uses her white, savvy and survival instincts, as well as pure strength of character to go from a basic child slave , and survive the wicked wiles of the evil supreme Geisha geisha, Hatsumomo, the cruelty of 'Granny' the matriarch and the greed of 'Mother'
A sad reflection of life for women and children sold or forced into the sex trade.Something epidemic today including in Western countries
The kindness of the Chairman of a major Japanese corporation and her mentor and so called 'elder sister' Geisha Mameha,provides her with some salvation. And her story is a fascinating one
Always against the backdrop of the Japan of the times, shows us of the country during both the glory of the 1930s Japanese empire and the deprivations of World War II. The whims of the men who become her Danna, basically sexual master and patron.
Encapsulates the sights, expounds and smells of the Japan of the time,. As we really get into the head of Chiyo who becomes Sayuri after her deflowering. And I found myself anxious for her throughout the novel, felt her trials and tribulations but also learned from the history and social issues, threaded through this excellent bestseller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing fantastic magic 13 Jan 2006
By A Customer
The novel is a fantastic, enchanting read. The author's narrative is flows easily and never fails to amaze with its sheer poetry, vastness and breath of feeling. Golden tells an enchantic tale, a novel that is definitely one of my favourites. It is colourful, vivid, passionate, mysterious and almost magical in the sense that it completely absorbs the reader into a story that no one else could have told so well. Definitely worth reading!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey into an altogether different world 10 Jun 2006
By S.C.
Memoirs of a Geisha is the perfect novel. It is the sort of book that only comes by every so often and in this one you will unfold a hidden world of beauty. The story begins in the 1920's but the course of the novel is set over a period of many years, which include those of the second world war. Chiyo-chan is a nine year old girl from a small fishing village, her life so far has been simple and happy, until her mother grows terminally and eventually fatally ill. No longer able to cope, Chiyo's father arranges for her

and her sister Satsu to be taken to a distant region of Japan, Gion one of the many Geisha districts. On arrival they are seperated and Chiyo is sent to the Nitta okiya to become a Geisha. But the life of a Geisha proves to be very difficult for Chiyo who later becomes the celebrated Geisha, Sayuri.

This book is one of the best i have ever read, the tale becomes so absorbing that Chiyo's life becomes yours for the duration of the novel. Along the way you will meet characters such as the mischeivous Pumpkin, the greedy Mother of the Nitta okiya, the Beautiful Mamaeha-san and the malicious Hatsumomo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves 31 Oct 2008
By Lozza
I only picked this book up as it was one of the '1001 books to read before you die' and i've heard some great reviews of it. I don't know whether i'm too judgmental or i was expecting too much, but i was pretty disappointed.

Ive never read a book that starts so well and ends so badly. The first half - up until the war - is well written, dramatic, emotional and exciting. However, after the war and after Hatsumomo leaves it disintegrates and i found where previously i hadn't been able to put it down, i was becoming less and less inclined to pick it up. I increasingly found Sayuri harder and harder to like and therefor care about, and the trite 'happily ever after' ending left me feeling cheated. A novel that has the potential to be really great but ends up as mediocre.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected pleasure.
I didn't buy this book on Amazon, I bought it in a charity shop. I don't think I would have bought it on Amazon. It's not the usual sort of book that interests me. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Keiran McAllister
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book!
When a lot of my friends ask which book should I read I always recommend this, its quite an easy read which helps it become an addiction; I couldn't put the book down! Read more
Published 6 days ago by Lewis-93
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read- much better than the film
Published 7 days ago by Hollie Dunn
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book
Published 7 days ago by julie dervey
4.0 out of 5 stars Lynne
Having just read my daughters copy of memoirs of a geisha and found it totally absorbing, I enjoyed the fascinating glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of this diminishing way... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Mrs. .liw
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent reading material
I chose this book for my art project which was to paint a scene from a book.
From the first page,I so enjoyed reading it
Published 11 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A great classic
I'm not much used to reading classic books and this is probably a first since school, but I was enchanted but the writing and the flow of the story, it was such a breath of fresh... Read more
Published 18 days ago by sam410
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
love the book and the movie but read the book first
Published 20 days ago by christine hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful, picturesque account!!
"We don't become geisha so our lives will be satisfying. We become geisha because we have no other choice. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Relax and Read Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another world
Fab read. A journey into a culture we will never understand. A hard and sometimes cruel existence. Wonderfully written and beautifully portrayed.
Published 1 month ago by julie taylor
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