Monday, April 26, 2010

A beautiful, colorful depiction of the live of a geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden

Bust out the party hats - exactly one year after starting this audio book, I have finally completed it!! As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of audio books for myself; I think mainly because I can read a book in about a third of the time as someone on a tape and I am not good at listening while doing anything besides driving...and I don't drive a lot. But, the extremely long reading time was not a reflection of this beautiful story. Warning: I will be butchering the spelling of all of these lovely Japanese names because I have never seen them in print!

Sayuri is removed from her poor fishing village when she is 9 years old and moves to the geisha district of Gion in Kyoto. She is taken into a okiya and assists Hatsumama, the okiya's extremely popular and successful geisha but Hatsumama is very cruel and the Mother and Auntie who run the okiya always support Hatsumama in order to keep her happy and making money. Eventually, Sayuri is noticed by another very successful geisha, Mameha, because of her unusual grey-blue eyes and Mameha agrees to be Sayuri's Older Sister and train her to be a geisha. The story follows Sayuri's life from 9 until about 30; from her arrival in Gion, through her becoming a geisha, through WWII, and ending with the moment she feels her life began.

Golden vividly described life for a geisha in the early 1900's. I was mesmerized by the description of the geisha clothing, manners, and scheming as well as the business side of the geisha life. I liked the audiobook because all of the names were properly pronounced, which is something that is hard for me and I generally end up skimming over names. However, the narrator of the audiobook was less than enthralling even though her voice did match the proper and conserved tone of Sayuri's character. I highly recommend this book but suggest you definitely pick it up in print!


I am completely unsure of how I feel about the ending of this book! I love that Sayuri never gave up hope and held on to her dreams but I don't like how what she did to get them in the end and felt it was very out of character for her. Also, the "happily ever after" ending didn't really mesh with the rest of the book. Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for a good love story, but this ending seemed to come a little out of nowhere and was a little too much of a Pretty Woman ending for this particular book. And, let's be honest, I felt SO bad for Nobu!

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