I have watched the movie Memoirs of a Geisha countless times. Though casting was surrounded by controversy, no one could deny the cinematic beauty and attention to detail. I was visually fascinated. So, although I have watched the movie so many times, when I found Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha in Barnes and Noble one night, I picked up a copy anyway. I mean, after all, the book is always better than the movie, right?
Though, in my defense, I haven’t seen the film in many, many years, so my memory of the story has faded, to my own advantage. The thought of reading a 400+ page book the week before my summer semester kicked in was intimidating. However, this book sucked me right in with fantastic imagery. It painted a portrait as I read, opening an internal portal of creativity that I was unaware of. Golden doesn’t force it either, he’s incredibly talented – it’s refreshing to see such eloquent writing.
Needless to say, I flew through the book in a matter of 3-4 days. This was evident as I was reading while cooking (I highly do not recommend this – it carries high potential for disaster). I stayed up until all hours of the night – erm, morning, telling myself, “Okay… One more chapter.”
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we meet Sayuri Nitta (formerly known as Chiyo Sakamoto), as she recounts her life story. From the “tipsy house” in a poor fishing village, to the swaying cherry trees in Kyoto, Arthur Golden gives us an intimate tour of a beautifully tragic life burdened with devastating hardships, heartbreak, terror, relief and hope time and time again. Golden’s talent for character development is unmatched. I fell in love with characters, I felt hatred for others – then pity. There were times I had to just put the book down to calm down. As an emotional human being myself, I was in overdrive.
It’s books like this that make me think there’s no other book in this world that could top this. It makes me heart sick to finish such a perfectly crafted piece of literature. Those who are fascinated with culture, history and stories that overcome absolute adversity, I beg you to read this!