Memoirs of a Geisha

By Arthur Golden,

Book cover of Memoirs of a Geisha

Book description

'An epic tale and a brutal evocation of a disappearing world' The Times

A young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. Many years later she tells her story from a hotel in New York, opening a window into an extraordinary half-hidden world of…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked Memoirs of a Geisha as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Memoirs of a Geisha is the only book I’ve actually dreamed about while reading – that’s how much it gripped me.

Not only are the characters richly drawn, the cultural details and world of pre-war Japan are so immersive you’ll feel like you are walking the streets of the Kyoto of almost a century ago. This book also fascinates me because it is the only one Arthur Golden ever wrote.

I don’t know why he never wrote again, but how could he top it? It’s the perfect novel.

From Michael's list on reads set in Japan.

Some books echo in your mind long after you finish reading them. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, which I read as an audiobook. This novel follows a young girl named Chiyo, who is sold to a geisha house as a child. She endures brutal treatment and eventually must train to be a geisha and entertain the highest levels of Japanese elite. But her body and her life are not her own—the novel follows Chiyo as she struggles to make a life for herself in Japan leading up to, and following, the second world war. This novel is both…

My heart broke for Chiyo and her sister when their mother died. Not entirely because they were motherless, but because their father sold them. These two uneducated girls from a poor fishing village had no advocate.

 A geisha house-bought Chiyo, while her older, unattractive sister was sent away to work in the seedy sex district. The descriptions in this book made me forget I was reading. It was an incredible survival story.

Years of research into Japanese life, culture, and history went into the preparation for writing this totally believable and lyrical work of fiction that takes the reader through the life of a Geisha from orphaned child to old woman. As Sayuri is groomed for a life of elegant slavery we see the glittering world of the Geisha through her eyes with its demands, emotional loneliness, and pathos. And we accompany her at a time when the Geisha houses are forced to close during World War II and she must reinvent herself. The book is peopled by compelling characters but there…

The book transported me to a completely foreign world where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as an illusion and leaves you hanging until the last chapter to find out if the main character will ever realize her aspirations for love from the one man she has ever loved. It reminded me a lot of Cinderella. An ordinary girl who is mistreated and comes from nothing to become the most sought-after woman in all of Japan. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable. I…

From Marlayne's list on where love overcomes all obstacles.

The premise of this book is that the author interviews a former geisha now in her nineties and living in New York. She recounts her early childhood born in a fishing village and sold into slavery. She is groomed to become a geisha and discovers her own power and freedom. World War II intervenes and she must reinvent herself when many of the geisha houses close. To her amazement, she falls in love. The book is filled with rich details of life in Kyoto. This novel was my first introduction to Japanese culture, its economy, and social mores, and the…

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