Reviews

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden

brightside878's review against another edition

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3.0

The writing was good and the story absorbing, atleast for the first half, but than I started to get bored. Also, I never connected with Sayuri as a character. I felt very distant from her.

dior's review against another edition

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4.0

Chiyo tells Sayuri(herself) that “dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume you completely.” Either this is accepting her fate or choosing to live a restrained life. Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical fiction novel written by Arthur Golden, based on real life memoirs of Geishas in the 19th and 20th century, delivering the intriguing yet controversial culture of Geishas with vividness. While implying the indisputable fate of life, Memoirs of a Geisha is an encouragement to self-determination.
At the age of 9, Chiyo gets sold to Okiya, a geisha house where young girls are trained how to entertain men. Separated from her home and family, Chiyo struggles to adapt to the house, especially under Hatsumomo’s never-ending, cruel intentions to get her in trouble. During the attempt to run away from the Okiya, Chiyo encounters the Chairman who shows genuine kindness to her for the first time in her life. She decides she will become a Geisha and serve the Chairman one day. Given the Geisha name Sayuri, she later becomes one of the highest paid Geishas in history. Before all the journey as a Geisha, what made Chiyo Sayuri was her own determination not the coerciveness of the Okiya. Also, her connection to other characters such as the Chairman or “sister” Mameha seems to me that her very last destination was chosen from the beginning.
Aware that Memoirs of a Geisha is a renowned novel, I was still skeptical about how accurately an American would be able to bring a story of Japanese culture to the readers and was also concerned if there will be any stereotypes in his interpretation. However, I really liked how Golden well applied the psychology of Japanese culture into Chiyo’s personal thoughts, actions, and experiences, melting it into the coming of age of Chiyo.

dflick2012's review against another edition

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5.0

This was such an excellent book. Yet another modern “classic” that is totally worth the hype.

I spent the first half convinced it was a true story because of the “translator notes” section at the beginning.

I hope they did a good job with the movie. I’m not sure when I will get to watch it...

August 2020 Update:
I was able to check the DVD out of the library with curbside pickup. I was slightly disappointed in it. They had to skip over SO MUCH, which is understandable because of the time constraints of a movie, but it lessened the quality of the story. I was also disappointed by the costume/makeup quality. Memeha was supposed to have the most spectacular kimono and hers were always sort of boring. And the Geisha did not wear their makeup as much as they should have... I guess to make it easier to differentiate characters...? I did greatly enjoy Pumpkin's post-war transformation. She was much better in the movie than in my head. I did not quite picture her that way as I was reading it, and now I see that is how she was meant to be.

luciacafe99's review against another edition

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4.0

Es un libro espléndido con una gran historia, pero en ciertos momentos creo que el autor se da demasiada libertad para transformar la historia original. Tras leerlo estuve investigando y la Geisha que le relató su vida escribió un libro en el cual contaba su propia verdad; sin adornos para endulzar la trama para con el lector. Aun así lo disfruté muchisimo.

shanchan's review against another edition

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dark emotional inspiring sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

insiyahxo's review against another edition

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dark reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

mikitiale's review against another edition

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informative reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

I enjoyed this book but I understand the author betrayed his informant and as someone trained in anthropology, I do not find this forgivable. I plan on reading Iwasaki's book soon.

The plot kept me interested. I wish Pumpkin and Sayuri were able to have a better relationship but I understand Pumpkin's motivations. Watching Chiyo grow into Nitta Sayuri was okay but the people around her were often more interesting than she was. Sayuri still felt like the same person at the beginning of the novel as at the end, though maybe a bit more cynical. Her motivations did not change and her obsession with the Chairman made her seem childish even in her 30s.

I dislike the end with the Chairman's confession about Mameha. It takes away from the relationship between the sisters and it felt like a cheap way to pretend the Chairman actually cared even though he refuses to marry her or have a committed relationship with her after literal decades of essentially grooming her.

I am glad the author spent a lot of time studying Japanese language and culture, even going as far as to have a master's degree in Japanese history, but I feel this story would have been told best by a cultural insider rather than an outsider looking in.

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rwoods's review against another edition

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4.0

The details of the Geisha lifestyle - the precise mannerisms, elaborate hair styling and exquisite patterns and dressing rituals of the silk kimonos - are what make this book such a pleasure to read. The pain endured for perfection is the added twist of truth that lets you remember it's an artful illusion performed by girls for the pleasure of men.

helicala's review against another edition

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5.0

I was very excited to read this book finally after watching the movie countless times. I want to say this was a wonderful book and I enjoyed and it will be one of those books after reading it on my kindle I'll buy it when I see it. Everyone should read this book

anebz's review against another edition

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3.0

interesting insight into Japan, complex story with rich details, felt a little too long.