Sunday, October 25, 2009When Chiyo is nine-years-old her mother falls deathly ill and her family comes to the attention of the well-to-do Mr. Tanaka. Chiyo believes that Mr. Tanaka is going to adopt her and her sister. What she does not realise is that she is about to be sold to one of Gion's geisha houses to be trained in the arts and conversation for the entertainment of men. She instantly finds herself with a wickedly vicious enemy in the accomplished geisha, Hatsumomo. Chiyo resists her new life at first but an encounter with a kindly Chairman motivates her to become a great geisha so that she may encounter him again. Hence ends the life of Chiyo and begins that of Sayuri.
Memoirs is one of the books from my to-read list for the Classics Challenge. You know, the challenge that ends in a few days but I am yet to post any reviews for? I, uh, got a little distracted I guess. I'll try and roll out some of those promised reviews before the deadline anyway. Aren't I just terrible?
Memoirs of a Geisha is written in such as way, that it is easy to believe that you have picked up a book from the biography shelves, not the fiction section. It starts with a faux translators note from the character Jakob Haarhuis to whom Sayuri has dictated her life story to.
I do not know enough about Japan and Geisha's, especially during the time period of 1920 through the 1940s, to comment on the accuracy of the world that Golden describes for us. I do feel from what I know about the nature of modern Japanese culture that Golden surely has only begun to scratch the surface. Historical accuracy aside, Golden creates a world that is exotic and fascinating.
The main thing that I didn't like was how everything wrapped up in the end. I guess we were supposed to feel that Sayuri had been through enough and deserved to be mistress to the man she desired to be with but it felt like things just pulled together far too conveniently for her. I thought a better ending would have been if she could have actually found herself able to be very happy with Nobu as her "danna". I felt sorry for Nobu in the end. He didn't deserve how he was treated so I guess as a result I felt less like Sayuri deserved her happy ending.
I have seen the movie but I last saw it far too long ago to be able to do a comparison on how it translated to screen at the moment.
From the moment that I picked up this book I was completely drawn in and was quite happy to sit and spend an entire day reading it. I'm glad that I picked it for the challenge (that I have not participated enough in) or else I may never have gotten around to reading it.