I spotted Memoirs of a Geisha on a market stall in London, at the same time that I bought I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. After vaguely remembering somebody mentioning this book as a good read I decided to buy it. And I can honestly say it’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read.
The novel follows the story of a young girl from a small fishing village in Japan as she is sold to an okiya in Gion. Despite facing a turbulent life after being torn away from her family, and made even worse by becoming the target of a scheming, older Geisha, she fights her way to become one of Japan’s most well-known and successful Geishas. The story in this novel kept me hooked for its entirety, with so many twists and turns, and a main character that I truly rooted for. Arthur Golden clearly did his research before writing the book, using such incredible detail that I was transported to Japan, as though I was sitting right there in the tea houses with the characters.
In reading the novel I felt as though I was given a glimpse into the somewhat secret world of the Geisha, who appear to be so glamourous, with their stunning kimonos, perfect make-up and incredible displays of dance and other arts. Some are treated like real-life princesses, showered with gifts of jewels and beautiful clothing. They seem to encompass elements of what I imagine Japan to be like, a country that I would love to visit, with a rich culture, history, beauty and elegance. And all of which was depicted perfectly by Golden through his story telling. Yet the story also described the hidden side of the Geisha life – the training, competition and struggles they face, with few finally ending up being as incredibly renowned as the character in the story.
This is a book for anybody who loves different cultures, beautiful storytelling and a gripping plot – and one that I would highly recommend!
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