Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it.
I had forgotten how much I loved this book, it's just so beautiful. I knew very little about Japanese culture and the art of geisha before reading this, but the book let you into every single little detail, and I'm now left with a feeling of being incredibly well-informed and understanding of geisha ideals.
It was almost as if all the geisha secrets were being exposed within these very pages, the way it's written is absolutely astonishing. I had to remind myself frequently that none of it was completely true. It's amazing to think that this book was written by an American man, it could just as easily be the real memoirs of a geisha.
The variety of characters in this novel is just gorgeous - the evil rivals, the patrons, the horrible old ladies, the friends. The beautiful descriptions and the intricate plot details made this book extremely difficult for me to put down.
The storytelling is almost poetic, and it's an extremely worthwhile read. My favourite thing about it was that I came out of it feeling as though I'd learnt something, which, I believe, is quite rare to find these days.
19 / 66 books. 29% done!