Title: Memoirs of a Geisha
Author: Arthur Golden
Publication: January 10th, 1999
Rating: 5 out 5
Synopsis: A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable.
Review: Riveting, heart wrenching, and insightful all but begin to cover the emotions felt while reading Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Born into a life of travesty and imminent despair, Chiyo begins her childhood with her tentative father and sickly mother. One day, unbeknownst to her, a man by the name of Mr. Tanaka comes along and changes her life forever. Whether this event is for the better or worse is a topic widely debated throughout the course of the novel, as Chiyo finds many reasons to regret and enjoy her new occupation. Upon abduction, Chiyo moves in with a strange trio of women going by the names of “Mother” “Grandmother” and “Hatsumomo” The two prominent roles are of Mother, who funds all of Chiyo’s training, and Hatsumomo, who acts as the opposing force to Chiyo. Being newly separated from her family, Chiyo attempts to escape, and fails miserably. Mother immediately ceases her funding and Chiyo succumbs to maidswork. Despite this, she vigorously fights her way to success, and this is what the novel focuses on most.
The hopelessness and cruelty of Chiyo’s early years causes pity within readers, and her interest in the Chairman is a great point of interest, adding curiosity and suspense into the plot. Right as one might think the excitement is over, a whole new can of worms is opened. The author truly knows how to layer a story in an appropriate and very believable manner. Arthur Golden gives wonderful insight into the unseen world of Geisha and on top of that makes the reality of it acrimoniously palpable. This novel beautifully relates the struggle filled life of Chiyo to anyone facing hardship and despair, and serves as motivation to any and all with a lack of it. Memoirs of a Geisha merges the gap between history lesson and exciting reality, and for that I recommend it.
**Reviewed by Otter