A Geisha's story - in her own words

25 Comments
Enter the charming and entertaining land of Geishas in ancient Japan where a famous Geisha takes us through the painful story of her life from a fishing village to an okiya in a major city of business. Arthur Golden wove a beautiful web of story that is captivating till the end. An art-form adapted by women in Japan is introduced to the whole world through this book. What makes reading this book more appealing is the drama it creates when the story is heard from the giesha herself. Also, the author is an American and yet manages to narrate the story as if he's seen it all happen in another century. The Japanese terminology used gives it a native feel and is explained well to understand easily. The book has some provocative jokes though, and I wouldn't recommend it for children under 18.

Chiyo Chan, the worthless daughter of a fisherman in a village called Yoriodo is sold to an okiya in Kyoto when she was 9 years old. She is separated from her family and is forced to clean and scrub floors along with attending a geisha school in order to bring income to the okiya. Pumpkin who was sold to the same okiya is her only friend and consolation. But life has chosen a rough path for Chiyo because the prime geisha of the okiya, Hatsumomo hates her from the very beginning and spoils her future plans. She ruins her reputation by blaming her of stealing and running away. Mother (Mrs. Nitta), the owner of the okiya foresees that she wont bring in much business and turns her into a maid. During one of her errands outside the house, Chiyo happens to meet the Chairman of Iwamura Electric. His generous act of offering to buy her some sweet ice touches her and Chiyo, who's not accustomed to witnessing such kindness, falls in love with him. She is then taken under the wings of Mameha, a senior Geisha who teaches her the tricks of the trade. The story then turns around and we're shown how Chiyo faces the challenge of becoming a famous Geisha and getting what she wants. She couldn't have asked for more in life.

A heart-warming and very touching story of romance and passion. I'll leave you a quote from the closing lines of the book:
"As a young girl I believed my life would never have been a struggle if Mr. Tanaka hadn't torn me away from my tipsy house. But now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper."

The book has a lot of similes and metaphors which have to be read to understand the depth of emotion that the writer has tried to convey through a geisha's words. I saw the movie after reading the book and felt that if I hadn't read the book I wouldn't have understood most of it. Also many of the actors I know are not Japanese. I wont say its a bad imitation as it was tweaked to fit in the 2:30 hours frame. But it is enjoyable and the music, costumes are too good.

Image Courtesy: Google Images


You may also like

25 comments:

A journey called Life said...

rads.. this is one of my all time fav picks.. just loved this book, form the begining to the very end.. read it one go..nice review by the way..

kittymatti said...

very interesting Radhika..nice review.

le embrouille blogueur said...

Great review .... the movie sound track is pure magic from Williams ...I agree with you on the content...does not do justice to the book.

Adesh Sidhu said...

I have not read the book but seen the movie and I found movie too heavy. This book created lot of controversy as well. Apparently author interviewed one Geisha and she revealed all his clients details which is against their code of conduct.

rads said...

@A journey called Life: Thanks Aparna, I read it recently and couldn't resist posting it.

rads said...

@kittymatti: Thanks Preethi :)

rads said...

@le embrouille blogueur: Thank you :) Yep the music was mesmerising. We can't expect more from a movie.

rads said...

@Adesh Sidhu: The movie is quite emotional. Yea I read about the controversies but I guess the book did not reveal anything. It is a work of fiction.

foreigndesi said...

I loveeddd this book! Couldn't put it down for a second. Great review

rads said...

@foreigndesi: Yea its hard to stop when a book is so good.

Vinay said...

I had a wrong impression abt this book. I thought it is an English translation of the original Japanese version.

Preeti Shenoy said...

Have read this book (n fact have it) and absolutely LOVED it..I do feel you should not give out spoilers for those who want to read the book.
Then again its upto them whether to read a review or not! :P
Cheers
preeti

rads said...

@Vinay: Oh no its not, whoever or whatever gave you that idea :)

rads said...

@Preeti Shenoy: I did not give out the whole story, its a summary. In fact its just like a trailer, but yes I shouldn't have given out the ending. But then again if a person is really interested in reading the book, that shouldn't bother him/her, after all its not a like mystery novel or something.

preposterous girl said...

Hi Rads..
I was thinking to buy this book from a long time..Will definitely read it after the exams..Ur review made it all the more appealing :)

rads said...

@preposterous girl: Yea Shweta its definitely a must have.

Priyanka Agrawalla said...

Hi Rads...
nice review! in my case, i watched the movie first and then went for novel. i felt tht the novel did more effect than the movie...

and there is this line in the novel,in which she metaphorically talks about her change in life and the one I liked the most -
"We human beings are only a part of something very much larger. When we walk along, we may crush a beetle or simply cause a change in the air so that a fly ends up where it might never have gone otherwise."

rads said...

@Priyanka Agrawalla: Hi Priyanka, thanks and welcome to my blog. Like I said, the book had a lot of similes and all of them are worth reading coz they are so meaningful. Thanks for sharing the quote.

Kokonad said...

Nice synposis, Rads... MoaG is one of my favorite movies. It is one beautifully made movie. I haven't read the book though, but now, after reading this, I definitely want to! :)

rads said...

@Kokonad: Thanks Koko :). You have to read the book to get the missing portions.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

I havent read this book, but having read your book review( is it a review?)i am surely going to read this. But if this is a review then i feel you shouldnt have given away the story completely. A positive review always stops just short of the real story and compels the reader to actually read the book.

Anyways, nicely written.ciao:))

rads said...

@ZiLliOnBiG: Well, I don't remember mentioning it anywhere that its a review. Did I? Its just an attempt to share my opinion about a book that I have read and usually I summarize the story in all such posts. Who says that we can't summarize a story in blog posts? Its not like I've given away the whole story, for God's sake its a 500 pages book. If you feel its a review then go ahead and read it as a review and if you feel its article/summary read it that way. No issues. Thanks for reading it.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

o boy, you seem to fume...sorry, apologies...pardon.

rads said...

@ZiLliOnBiG: Oh no, pardon me if I've sounded rude but that was not my intention. I can never be rude to my readers, in fact as I always say, I want my readers to give me genuine feedback and since the time I read your comment I've been thinking if me giving away the summary is good or bad, I was thinking about removing the summary or cutting the story short like its done in reviews but since my idea was not to do a review I just left it as it is. I understand that many people don't like knowing the end beforehand but while writing the post I didn't keep that in mind as first-of-all I didn't expect readers to go through the long summary I posted. Anyways, I'm really sorry if my comment hurt you.

Sujana said...

I always was interested in reading this book but your review makes me want to read it even more now. Great review! Very detailed and engaging :)