Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

43
So I am a little late to the ballgame on this one.  This book has been around a while and I just now read it.  I thought it started off a little slow but then I was hooked.  The life of a Geisha is fascinating and some of the characters were infuriating!!  I had a misconception going in about what this book was about.  I had the wrong idea of a Geisha.  I also thought it was set during WWII, but that era played just a very short role.  I found myself slowing down toward the end because I wasn't ready for it to be over.  That's the sign of a good book! :)

Summary from BarnesandNoble.com:
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, and other place, and feel you're listening and seeing with someone else's eats and eyes.' - Margaret Forster
Previously unavailable in hardback outside the USA, this remarkable novel has caught the imagination of millions of readers. It tells, as if in her own words, the extraordinary story of a geisha girl - a seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale. Summoning up more than twenty-five years of Japan's dramatic history, the novel opens a window onto a half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation.
Chiyo is born a fisherman's daughter in a village on the Sea of Japan, where she might have lived a drab and uneventful life - but for her startling grey eyes. In 1929, at the age of nine, she is sold into a kind of slavery as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. In the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto she discovers an alien world. This is the world where Hatsumomo, petite and deadly, is principal geisha; where Auntie, who looks like a knobbly bamboo pole, is kind but ineffectual; and pipe-smoking Mother controls them all like a repulsive spider from the center of her web.
Chiyo learns to be careful in her words, her actions and her choice of friends. Through petty miseries, farcical moments, great pain and one man's act of kindness, she begins her transformation into Sayuri, one of the most sought-after geisha of the Gion district. Her good fortune is to be taken on as 'younger sister' and apprentice by a successful geisha who teaches her the arts of her profession -n not only dancing and singing, but how to drape the kimono, how to apply the elaborate make-up, how to walk and talk and pour tea, how to beguile the most powerful men. But then war breaks out and, to survive, Sayuri must transform herself once more. Finally she takes a calculated risk which could mean disgrace, or the realization of an impossible dream - the tenuous hope that has kept her spirit intact and aloof, even from drunken patrons and the auction of her much-prized virginity.
Many years later, Sayuri tells her own story from the Walforf Astoria in New York, her tone controlled and ambivalent, funny and poignant, as she recaptures the exquisite scenes, behind the rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the age-old art of the geisha.
Arthur Golden's remarkably poised and beautifully written first novel brings this strange, exotic existence to the page as never before. Memoir of the Geisha grips the reader from the very first and leaves the unforgettable imprint of one woman's life at another time and in another place.

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