“Memoirs Of A Geisha”, By Arthur Golden

I had heard about this book a lot before I picked it up for reading. It is one of those books which give you a nice story as well as a view of society and its traditions in detail. “Memoirs of a Geisha” is first person narrative of Geisha Sayuri before and after world war II. Geisha means traditional female Japanese entertainer whose skill includes dancing, music along with physical favors to their guests. Arthur Golden has tried to bring in as many details as possible in this narrative making it a live account of Japanese society and the life of Geisha during that time.

The story is about a simple and poor girl who is taken away from home due to poverty and spends her childhood in okiya (Geisha Boarding House). She is ill-treated and has little hope of becoming Geisha but then her fortune changes and with help of some sympathizers, she becomes the best Geisha and in the end manages to find love as well. The story is on predictable lines and it was not the story as much that caught my interest. It was the description of their life and the way society treats them was very interesting.

Author has provided details about complex procedures, requirement of mentors, strict and long training that goes into making of a Geisha. There is usual back-stabbing, politics and fights among existing and upcoming Geisha as well. It is interesting to note that in those circumstances, the best that a girl can hope for is to be chosen as Geisha. Without that status their life is that of a servant with little hope of any money or care in old age. The impact of war on society as well as the tradition of Geisha itself is very nicely told. I found the book to be quite good though some aspects of various characters can end up confusing you. I guess that is mainly due to complex Japanese customs and traditions.

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2 Comments

Filed under Fiction

2 responses to ““Memoirs Of A Geisha”, By Arthur Golden

  1. Satheesh

    The best thing about this book is the way it portrays pre-World War Japanese society. Many a time, old timers lament the decay in moral standards of the present times, but these books show that the older generation had loose morals themselves. Also, I have heard about the sub-ordinate role played by women in Japanese society, as is obvious from this book.

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    • pkg

      In a way it is cultural shock to many and probably there are many things which are same even today. Role of Women in Japanese society seems to be still very subordinate. It also shows that too strict society also does not work in long run as is the too loose ones.

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