Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha

I’ll start out with the standard line that exposes me as typical westerner and illustrates my ignorance of other cultures in that before reading this book, if someone said the word Geisha I heard Prostitute. The two things were indistinguishable to me. Now the exact connotations of what being a Geisha entails is beyond a simple blog entry, suffice to say it is far from simply summed up quite so easily.

Chiyo is a young girl from in a small fishing village called Yoroido in Japan. The book takes us through Chiyo’s life from just before she and her sister are orphaned, to being sold as little more than a slave, to becoming Sayuri, one of Japan’s most renowned Geisha.

It is a beautifully crafted story that immerses the reader in the detail and the pageantry of life as a Geisha, and bizarrely I enjoyed this book for many of the same things that I disliked Engleby. It takes it’s time in the describing Sayuri’s routines, her plans and her misfortunes but because it is based in a culture that is so alien to it’s intended reader it doesn’t feel forced. On the contrary, it would have achieved far less impact by being more direct.

I will own up to the fact that there were times during the book where I forgot that it was fiction and genuinely believed that it must be based on a true story. I even took the time to google for the “Famous Painting” of Sayuri, only to find a page quite rudely telling me “It’s fiction, get a life”. Harsh … but maybe fair.

6 Responses to Memoirs of a Geisha

  1. wanderer7 says:

    great film. nothing like a compressed history.

    the spite that boils over in the end is astonishing

    women never forget

  2. Mr Geek says:

    I have not seen the film. I am usually reluctant to see the film of a book that I liked as however middle classed it may make me sound, they so rarely live up to expectations. I usually succumb to it in the end though.

    I did think the end was a little convenient.

  3. Nemma says:

    Amazing very detailed book, awful film….. Way too skimmed over, the characters werent explored enough and it was extremely weak!
    I wouldnt bother with the film. I was so excited about watching it after reading the book numerous times and seriously dissapointed! Wanderer7 I would thoroughly reccomend reading the book!

  4. Mr Geek says:

    As I said that is how I often feel about films of books that I liked.

    That is why I have so far avoided Atonement. Although I believe it is meant to be quite a good film, I am sure it will leave me frustrated by the details it leaves out. And the Golden compass has apparently been watered down to appease the book-burning crowd.

    I even avoided Hannibal at the time, and then never got around to watching it.

    And that is without bringing up the frustration and difficulty of avoiding my son watching the Harry Potter films before I have read him the books!

  5. mrsvierkant says:

    I loved this book. We used it in my book group a couple of years ago. I liked the film too. Have you read the Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. That’s another picturesque read.

    Mrs. V (RC’s sister)

    PS Thanks for visiting my blog

  6. Mr Geek says:

    I will put that on my list. Thanks for the tip.

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