This book was another selection from the book club I belong too. Would I have read it on my own? Probably not and I didn’t see the movie. It was released in paperback in 1999 so it isn’t a recent release.
The book is author Arthur Golden’s debut novel, but you’d never know it’s a first as it’s exceptionally well written. There were quite a few comments in the front of the book. One, from Houston Chronicle reads, “Memoirs of a Geisha is nothing short of astonishing…. Elegant and spare, but wonderfully evocative.” Boston Magazine calls the story a classic.
The story took me into an unknown culture as foreign as the land it’s set in, where young girls are sold and made to feel it’s an accomplishment to be a Geisha. It takes in the training they undergo and delves deep into their personalities and what shapes them to be manipulative, and even cruel.
The story is told in first person by Nitta Sayuri who is sold along with her older sister at the age of nine. It tells her story as she enters the world of Geisha. It’s a hard life so it’s no wonder the characters are strong, selfish, unkind is to gentle a word for them. Survival really is a matter of who’s fittest. I didn’t always like Sayuri, at least not toward the end. But then she had been taught by masters.
I had a hard time making myself believe that the story is fiction. It has 3268 reviews and a 4 ½ star rating. It’s a thought provoking read, one that is going to stay with me for a while and one I’m happy to recommend.