Life story

Memoirs of a Geisha

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28. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Right from the beginning this reminded me of Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki, which I last read in 2008. Then in the acknowledgements at the end I discovered that Mineko Iwasaki was actually Golden’s primary informant about the lives and customs of the the Geisha, or Geiko of Gion, in Kyoto, Japan. She was a primary member of that circle in the 1960s and 70s, while the heroine of Golden’s novel was there in the 1930s, but one stressed point in both books is the importance of the continuing tradition.

So, the novel. Well the first thing to remember is that this is a novel, historical and researched as it may be. As a story, it works, as the first person tale of a woman’s life among men and women of power, wealth and prestige. (Outside Gion, all those with power are men.) In a way, although the story is very different, it reminds me in that of Moll Flanders (which I haven’t read in many years) and Pamela (which I’ve admittedly only read about). This certainly isn’t a love story.

It’s a good book, but having read Iwasaki’s book I actually found the parts of this about Japan just after WWII the most interesting, as that’s a topic I really feel I’d like to know more about. The rest was more (in the words of a reviewer on Amazon.com) fairytale-ish. Yes the lifestyles of the very very wealthy in Japan, as well as those who served them, is interesting, but it’s simply outside the realm of anyone I’m likely to come across, and yet wasn’t new enough to me in novel form.

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3 Responses to “Life story”

  1. phrogmom Says:

    i really enjoyed reading this novel!! i keep hoping he is going to write another book!!!

  2. Christie Lanning Says:

    I liked this book, but not as much as I expected after hearing about it.

  3. Memoirs of a Geisha « Reading Lounge Says:

    […] Life story (kaet.wordpress.com) […]

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