Had I read it? I have seen the film I know that, and surely I wouldn’t have seen the film without reading the book? Would I? That was the question on my mind as I picked up Memoirs of a Geisha.
Following my aborted attempt co complete Wild Swans I stayed in the far east, and walked along the streets of Gion with one of the most evocative creations in contemporary literature.
The story is beautifully crafted as Sayuri evokes a bygone age in secretive Japan, and the even more secretive inner world of the Geisha. From the moment she is plucked from her tipsy house and slowly crystallizes as a beautiful Geisha Sayuri paints a sometimes painful, always emotional but never sentimental picture of her life. With the help of her ‘Older Sister’ Mameha she her childlike fantasy as she dreams of the Chairman and struggles to emerge from the shadow of the beautiful, spiteful Hatsumomo
Hatsumomo’s lovely smile grew the moment Nobu entered the room, until her lips were as rich and full as drops of blood beading at the edge of a wound
Arthur Golden takes us inside not only an exclusive female tradition with assurance and …. but also inside the head of a young girl who at first struggles with a path forced upon her and how she responds to the loses and trials of her life, and how she finds one thing to cling too, to focus her mind and work towards, making herself a Geisha to get close to the Chairman.
And then I became aware of all the magnificent silk wrapped around my body, and had the feeling I might drown in beauty. At that moment, beauty itself struck me as a kind of painful melancholy
By the end, Japan has been ravaged by the second world war and all that came with it but still Sayuri clings onto her one dream until the end when…well I’m sure you know what happens, and if you don’t..read the book and find out..