REVIEW: Memoirs of a Geisha


Lack of action

Reading for about a week only got me nearly 150 pages into the story. Still, I have no real feelings for Chiyo/Sayuri (our main character). At this point, it’s pretty clear that I won’t be developing any either. The most exciting thing that has happened is that she fell off a roof and broke her arm. Even that wasn’t too exciting.

I really wanted to like this, but I don’t. I can’t. Memoirs of a Geisha is one of the most anticlimactic books I’ve ever read. How Arthur Golden managed to get this to #1 International Bestseller status is beyond me. I’m going to assume that it managed to do that well because it’s a book about pre-WWII, and during the war, Japan and the life a geisha. Two things I imagine many people, particularly Americans, would be more than curious about.

In all honesty, there’s not too much I feel the need to say about the novel. With the lack of action, each time I thought that something “exciting” was about to happen I was let down. The amount men of power were willing to pay for a geisha’s virginity was astounding, and the thought of people bidding on a teenage girl is also a bit disgusting. But it was a different place, in a different time…culturally speaking.

Memoirs of a Geisha isn’t a book I’d recommend to anyone. As much as one would like to feel sympathy for Sayuri, or any of the geisha, it never happens. There isn’t enough depth to any of the characters to make the connections so many book lovers I know look for in a good story, or book.