Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Cinderella romance that unexpectedly swept me away! Memoirs of a Geisha is a very picturesque and dramatic tale of a young village girl taken from her family and raised in Kyoto as a geisha.
Usually I don't go in for romance. Don't get me wrong, I love love. But I prefer my love stories to be true. There is something immensely powerful about real love. As far as I've been able to discover, much of this story is based on the actual events of the life of former geisha Mineko Iwasaki. Why do I think so? She sued Golden for defamation of character. Apparently he included details she'd told him during their interviews that were not meant for print. Well, that's good enough for me!
I was dazzled by the details and enchanted by the well-paced plot. It's not for everyone, but if you liked the movie version you shouldn't be disappointed by the book, being that the two are identical in most ways.
Around the time I read Memoirs... I got the chance to visit Kyoto and made a point, as many tourists do, of seeking out the Gion District. The preservation of the area makes it worth the effort and cost of traveling in Japan. Almost medieval in its narrowness, the main historical road is a delight to behold, with its architecture and decor stuck in time as it is and the occasional geisha shuffling to and from buildings. I highly encourage a visit. Go when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Go see a tea ceremony. Just go. You'll be glad you did.
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