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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 12 January 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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on 4 November 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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on 10 June 2006
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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on 30 March 2000
Memoirs of a Geisha is a very, historically and emotionally, interesting novel. It explores the life of a famous Japanese Geisha and is supposedly addapted from her real memoirs. This could be why it is so informative and realistic. Credit must be given to the author however, as he had to translate the memoirs and has done a beautiful job in doing so. The language used really portrays the feelings and conditions of life in Japan in the good times and during war time. The Japanese culture is reflected beautifully through the works and I really feel as though I have learnt a great deal from this reading. The Memoirs follow the life of a young Japanese girl who is sold off by her father to an okyia at a very young age. She is told she will become a geisha, but during training has many falls and the hope of it ever happening is lost. She is given a second chance by a very prestigious geisha "Mahema" and manages to become quite successfull. However the whole way through the story she is lacking the one thing she desires, love. In this way the novel turns into a romance toward the end because it does follow this genre pattern. All in all, this is definatly worth the read and won't leave you dissapointed.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 January 2006
This book is a very sad story about the selling of children into the sex trade.
Arthur Golden doesn’t dodge the essential points of the geisha business: the investors in human beings (‘education’, kimonos, make-up) want their money back with a profit and this end justifies all means (torture).
In this book, a big chunk of this investment is paid back by selling the geisha’s mizuage (her deflowering) for the colossal sum of more than a year’s earnings of a labourer.
Poor parents were forced to sell their daughters for sheer survival: ‘We become geisha because we have no other choice.’ A geisha’s life is governed by resignation and fatalism: ‘we viewed ourselves as pieces of clay that forever show the fingerprints of everyone who has touched them.’
The main goal of every geisha is to become a kept woman, the mistress of a wealthy man (her danna), for without a danna ‘a geisha is like a stray cat on the street without a master to feed it. ‘
But, ‘a geisha who expects understanding from her danna is like a mouse expecting sympathy from a snake. Geishas have to keep their true self concealed.’
The central issue is ‘sex for money’. The central member is a man’s ‘homeless eel’. Geishas are there to be ‘consumed’.
Of course, there is fierce competition between them. They all have to pay back their huge debts.
This book says also a lot about the Japanese society, where wealthy people pay a fortune for deflowering virgins, who are sold out of necessity by their poor parents.
Arthur Golden wrote a realistic and moving story using expertly thriller elements.
Not to be missed.
I also recommend highly the memoirs of a top geisha (Mineko Iwasaki’s ‘Geisha of Gion’) and of a ‘normal’ one (Sayo Masuda’s ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’).
For a more general view of the Japanese ‘water trade’, I recommend Nicholas Bornoff’s ‘Pink Samurai’, the works on Japan by Ian Buruma and the deeply moving document about child prostitution by Tomoko Yamazaki ‘Sandakan Brothel #8’.
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on 27 August 2016
One of my favourite books ever. I'm always so jealous of people who are just reading it for the first time. It's not a book that I'd normally choose, but I joined a book club, so was forced to, but I'm so glad I did. It's not often that I find a book that I 'can't put down', but I literally couldn't. I'd still be reading it at about 3am, falling asleep over my kindle! The writing is just exceptional too, it's written in a way that made me completely shocked that it wasn't a true story. Before I found out it wasn't a true story, I was googling things from the book to find out more about them, only to find that they weren't real! I never read a book more than once, but if I did, I would read this one.
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on 30 July 2016
This book deserves far more than 5 stars. It was one of the most interesting, beautifully written, thought provoking and emotional stories I have ever read. Having a thorough interest in Japanese culture, I was so excited to read this book. I ate my way through it easily and by the end was inspired to read more books of the same theme. I am so pleased I got to read this, I even watched the documentary!

The book is in English.

It was dispatched really fast and delivered quickly too. Safely packaged and as described. Would definitely use this seller again! thank you!
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on 11 March 2006
Stunningly written Memoirs of a Geisha is a masterpiece. If you've seen the film but havn't read the book you must as the book is 1000 times better.You are intrested all the way through the book is perfect for Japan lovers.
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on 13 January 2006
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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on 12 November 2003
this book is probbly the best i have ever read. it drags you into the streets of gion and into a world previously unknown to me. i found it terribly interesting and could not believe it was fiction. I have bought this book for several friends as gifts so they can share the joy i had reading it.
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