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  1. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - 1997 Rescued Thread: megustaleer 23rd March 2006 07:52 AM Memoirs of a Geisha I had a day's leave from work yesterday; I spent the whole of it reading one book. It was the first time that I have done that for years. I have read lots of enjoyable books in that time, but none that have kept me turning the pages all day. Here is a synopsis of Arthur Golden's novel (filched from Amazon) *** Quote: A seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men. *** Doesn't sound all that beguiling, does it? What the synopsis doesn't do is reveal how much the story of this little girl, sold by her father while her mother lies dying and taken away to she-knows-not-where, tugs at your heart strings. Nothing is explained to her, she's not even lied to, so she has to interpret everything that happens and try to make sense of it. Bless her, her hopes and expectations are wide of the mark, but the reader, wiser in the ways of the world, can see what is going on and feels for her bewilderment and distress. Her fortunes ebb and flow, but she never experiences real freedom again. ---------------------------------------------------- Starry 23rd March 2006 09:08 AM I love this book, it is one of my favourites. It's one of those fantastic combinations of wonderful characters and compelling plot. I listened to it on audiobook and Sayuri's voice shone through, unique and interesting, which I may not have experienced in the same way if I had read the book, and the story stayed with me for a long time afterwards. As usual when I've loved a book as much as this one I have difficulty expressing why I liked it so much. So a short reply, but I would recommend it to anyone. ---------------------------------------------------- Seraphina 23rd March 2006 11:57 AM I also loved this book. I have read it several times and it has stood up to re-reading. I found the accounts of a Geisha's life fascinating, how close to the truth it is I don’t know, but it made an excellent story! I thought the juxtaposition between Sayuri’s innocence and the seediness of the industry in which she worked was very effective. It emphasised to me the sadness of the life the Geisha led, although to an outsider it perhaps looks like a colourful, enjoyable life of socialising and entertaining. The rivalry between Sayuri and (argh I can’t remember her name, but you know who I mean – the evil one! Can’t check as I’m at work) was effective as well. I thought it was interesting the way the women competed with each other, almost as if it was a sport, when really they were competing for a (relatively) better life. I actually felt sorry for (the evil one whose name I can’t remember). I seem to remember she had a boyfriend at one point who she obviously had to keep secret. She was also getting older and probably felt extremely bitter that she was not allowed to pursue her own goals, not allowed to fall in love. Taking this out on Sayuri was obviously the wrong thing to do, but when you consider the life she’s had at least you can gain some understanding of why she has become the way she has, even if you can’t exactly condone it. The novel made me think of some Japanese prints I studied 2-3 years ago when part of my Art History course covered Japanese art. They were of Geisha but they were really sad, and showed more of the feelings of the women themselves and less of the colour and verve of the surface lifestyle. The artist’s name escapes me (my memory is terrible today!) but I will have a look at home later. ---------------------------------------------------- megustaleer 23rd March 2006 12:26 PM Seraphina, please 'spoiler' that second paragraph, and the reference to it further down! That would have ruined the book for me if I'd read about it in advance. ---------------------------------------------------- Seraphina 23rd March 2006 12:39 PM *** Quote: Originally Posted by megustaleer Seraphina, please 'spoiler' that second paragraph, and the reference to it further down! That would have ruined the book for me if I'd read about it in advance. *** oops sorry had meant to but posted quickly without thinking as a whole pile of stuff landed on my desk! spoilered now.... ---------------------------------------------------- Momo 23rd March 2006 09:27 PM I have read this book twice - once with my previous book club, again with my present one. The first time, I liked the book but didn't think I would read it again. The second time, I enjoyed it much more. After discussing it at the meeting, I found it even more interesting. This book shows the difference of Eastern and Western culture as well as the changes in society during the couple of decades. There was so much to discuss, this book just contains so many different ideas. It is definitely worth (re-)reading. ---------------------------------------------------- supersexy007 25th March 2006 09:35 PM I read this book quite a while ago and couldn't put it down! I found it extremely sad and quite shocking in places (ie the "misuage part") I won't go into details as I don't know how to "spoiler" something and don't want to give the story away to anyone who has read it, but those who have read it already will know what I mean! I also found it sad that Sayuri's happy ending was actually quite belittling when you think about it. A great book. I have to say, I found the recent film disppointing though. ---------------------------------------------------- Momo 25th March 2006 09:41 PM *** Quote: Originally by supersexy007 I won't go into details as I don't know how to "spoiler" something ... *** It's quite easy, actually, once you know how it works. You can find bookgrouponline's thread here. ---------------------------------------------------- ange 5th June 2006 10:34 PM I am now on my 5th copy of this book. I bought it when it was very first published here in England. I didn't think I would enjoy it, but I thought it was the best book ever printed. The way the geisha's world are explained, the descriptions, the sheet beauty of the story. There is nothing I dislike. A true diamond of a book.
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