Posted by Izzy G. on Monday, September 6, 2010
Details: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, 434 pages, 3.93 stars on Goodreads
My Thoughts: This is adult fiction although I normally read and review young adult fiction. I saw the movie a few months ago, and while I really enjoyed it, the book was much better! Memoirs of a Geisha was a beautiful story, written wonderfully, and it's easy to get lost in the story. While I wouldn't call this something that has you tearing through the pages, there were many parts where I was reluctant to put it down and eager to get back to it.
The narrator, Chiyo, was very easy to relate to. When something bad happened to her, I felt it in my gut, and even though a geisha is basically a prostitute, no matter how you look at it, I was still pleased for her when she became successful. She had an entertaining way of narrating, where in places it was like she was speaking to you.
One thing I truly loved about this book was how realistic it was. The things I'm about to say are mildly spoiler-ish - nothing you can't figure out before it happens while reading, but if you wish to skip this paragraph, go ahead. *spoilers start now* While I was sad that Chiyo and her sister were never reunited after that one night, it would have been highly unlikely for something like that to happen. It was just another sad aspect of Chiyo's life. Another thing that saddened me but was also realistic was how Pumpkin reacted to so many years of betrayal and abuse. In the beginning, she was such a sweet, gentle girl, but by the end, she was bitter and vengeful, almost like Hatsumomo. *spoilers end now*
There were some things I disliked about Memoirs of a Geisha. I feel like the book didn't go as in depth to what was happening around Chiyo, with Japan's decline and everything. While, of course, the book was primarily about Chiyo's life as a geisha, I think the failing economy, the war, etc. would have all added another layer to the story and made it more interesting. The other thing that bothered me was her obsession with the Chairman. I understand that he may have meant a lot to her, that one time when he comforted her as a child, but I don't see why she fell in love with him and chased after him for twenty years. What bothered me even more was how he happened to be in love with her as well. I was hoping that she would realize how kind Nobu was and how much he really cared about her, but instead, the author opted for the fairy tale ending.
Overall, this was an excellent book and I definitely recommend it. The ending wasn't the greatest, but this is such an intriguing look into the life of someone people usually look on with revulsion.
Plot - 4/5
Writing - 5/5
Characters - 5/5
Impact - 2.5/5
Inability to put it down - 2.5/5
Overall - 76% = B+