Saturday, 27 August 2016

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden


'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.'


I'm not quite sure how to review this book as I've read quite a bit of criticism about the factual accuracy regarding life as a Geisha portrayed by Arthur Golden. Having no prior cultural knowledge of Japan and more specifically the life of a Geisha at this time, I cannot say whether it was or was not a correct portrayal. Nevertheless, Memoirs of a Geisha was absolutely intriguing and heart wrenching. The imagery of Japan and the detail of everyday life in Gion and in the Okiya was exceptional, and was a large factor in my love of this novel. However, ultimately, it was Chiyo's story that gripped me from the first page and kept me reading on. A coming of age book through and through, the entire account of young Chiyo/Sayuri was bittersweet.

It was warming to see that so much good could eventually come to someone who had been through so much hardship. Chiyo was such a relatable character that I felt her heartbreak and her happiness as if it were my own. However, as someone who likes to have loose ends tied up, I found it hard to accept some of the loose ends that were left untied in this novel, and the way some things were left in general. That isn't to say that I would change anything about it, in fact, the story probably wouldn't have affected me as much if there was a happy ending in every which way. It reminds you that not everything in life turns out the way you necessarily want it to and more importantly, and personally more difficult to come to terms with, not every relationship in life ends on good terms or even in a way that you can understand. But that is life, and fortunately, it goes on regardless. The way in which Golden writes Chiyo/Sayuri and her journey into this realisation is so realistic and gut wrenching that the whole tale is absolutely incredible.

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