Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
someone who appreciates a good bit of writing
on 16 October 2014
Let me begin this review by saying that, whilst I have recently read a lot about Geisha and their practices, I am not an expert in the field. I am, however, someone who appreciates a good bit of writing. This is not a good bit of writing.
I'm not sure if it's the quality of the translation or the original material, but it reads at a very low level. Great if you're a high school student with an interest in Geisha, not so much if you like varied sentence structure. At times, the drama of the story carried me through and I forgot that everything was essentially worded the same way. At other times, it read like a very boring list. There are only so many times I can read the words 'I was wearing [insert superfluous description of outfit]' without thinking of a notorious piece of Harry Potter fan fiction.
As for the story itself, I would not recommend it. The author is a profoundly boring person who seems to have written the entire tome in an attempt at self glorification. I don't doubt that she was a skilled and famous geisha in her time, but then it seems that most geisha who have spoken out have always been the most successful geisha of all time. The supposed clarity of her memories from the age of three onwards seem fabricated, but without any linguistic merits or narrative techniques. I am not asking for her total honesty, all autobiographies are edited or embellished in some way, but either Mineko was a ridiculously rude and stuck up young lady or she has no idea how to portray herself.
Another reviewer has mentioned the incident in which Mineko believes she is personally responsible for causing Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip to sleep in separate beds, as a punishment for Her Majesty's supposed rudeness. Clearly, this was never intended to be read by anyone with any knowledge of the Queen. If the incident happened as she describes, it was a massive event with diplomatic consequences reaching across Asia and Europe. As it is, I'm not convinced. And, frankly, my stomach was tightening in shock as I read Madam's smug little comments that no one should be rude, even a Queen. Many other events in which the entire world seems to revolve around Mineko (with the exception of her 'rival' geisha, there for added drama) are equally unbelievable but as I have no way of proving they didn't happen exactly as she claims, I shall not make too many assumptions.
Overall, I would not recommend this book. The skill behind it is lacking, and the story is not particularly interesting. If you are seeking a book about geisha life, there are many others available. If you want a romantic drama from a fabled creature, you will be disappointed.