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Memoirs of a Geisha | [Arthur Golden]

Memoirs of a Geisha

In a voice both haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri describes her life as a geisha. Taken from her home at the age of nine, she is sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Witness her transformation as you enter a world where appearances are paramount, virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder, women beguile powerful men, and love is scorned as illusion.
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Audible Editor Reviews

After the death of her mother, a young girl from a rural fishing village is sold to a Geisha House in the Gion District of Kyoto. Her fate continually twists, along with Japan's, before, during and after World War II.

This listen captures with great detail the lush glamour of a geisha's world, as well as the brutal realities of indentured servitude. The experience is superior to that of the movie, because each moment is mined for maximum insight. Protocols and relationships, even food and finances, are also meticulously described. The result is total immersion in this fascinating culture.

The narration may seem reserved, but that is appropriate given the book's setting. The sexual content is also very discreet and appropriate. Watching the movie is only getting your feet wet; get the full experience through this listen, a bewitching strong step into not just another time, but another world.

Publisher's Summary

Nitta Sayuri tells us in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate of her life as a geisha. Her story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion.

It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable.

©1997 Arthur Golden; Copyright ©1998 by Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Astonishing...Breathtaking...You are seduced completely." (Washington Post Book World)
"...a bravura performance, a first novel that provides a vivid view into a largely lost and secret world." (The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (3825 )
5 star
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Overall
4.6 (1143 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (1130 )
5 star
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4 star
 (278)
3 star
 (83)
2 star
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1 star
 (13)
Performance
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  •  
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 05-11-04
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 05-11-04 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Overall
    "An achingly beautiful book"

    Like many others have said, I too was reluctant to read this book, thinking it would not be of any interest to me. The reviews here convinced me to give it a try and from the first sentence I was utterly drawn in. This is one of the best books I have ever read, and listening to it added immeasurably to my enjoyment. This was truly a profound reading experience for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Hampton Cove, AL, USA 07-08-03
    Ronald Hampton Cove, AL, USA 07-08-03 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
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    184
    5
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    7
    Overall
    "Conspicuous Geisha's insight & Japanese life"

    Intriguing book that provided me insight into the life customs of a Geisha as well as people of Japan. A unique story that has elements of misfortune, overcoming adversity, romance, destiny, and lessons about the ways we idealize positions in life and how they don't necessarily come pass as we visualize them.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Inga Duncan Seattle , WA, USA 06-26-03
    Inga Duncan Seattle , WA, USA 06-26-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
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    23
    8
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    Overall
    "Excellent story"

    beautiful story, beautifully read. This is the perfect book for a long plane ride or a long weekend.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marge United States 12-16-05
    Marge United States 12-16-05 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    6
    2
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    "Unique!"

    I found this book fascinating and informative. It opens up the secret world of the Geisha during the 1900's. The writing is so personal and explicit it is fun to listen to and I did it several times without tiring. The narrator is excellent and keeps you imagining the author. It held me a captive listener.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy East longmeadow, MA, United States 01-24-04
    Judy East longmeadow, MA, United States 01-24-04 Member Since 2011

    jazkibbe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Memoirs of a Geisha (unabridged)"

    Very Good -- I found it fascinating if not a little self-serving an account for the author. But she acknowledges up front that it is her perceptions which have to be a tad biased by definition. I would recommend to anyone curious about Japanese culture as regards Geisha.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RacerX 09-24-03
    RacerX 09-24-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    96
    5
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    1
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    Overall
    "Wonderful story, excellent narrator"

    I was very pleasantly surprised with this work. I thought the story was excellent, as well as the narration. To me, the narrator's style (accent, attitude, etc.) made me feel like I was inside the mind of Sayuri experiencing the events in her life. I was also surprised at how much Japanese history, culture and philosophy is in the book, even though it is fiction. It definitely would be on my "top 10" list. And unlike another reviewer, I couldn't put the headphones down; I always wanted to hear just a little more.
    Highly recommended though. Very well done!

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Vancouver, WA, USA 09-14-03
    James Vancouver, WA, USA 09-14-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    57
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    8
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    "ruined by the narration"

    This is an excellent book in print, but the audiobook was ruined by its inferior production. I bought it, but regret it. I have read the book; it is great. But this production--what a mess.

    The narrator really only reads the book--reading a book is quite different from telling a story. She is no voice artist. At first, I thought she was in character, as some sort of clipped and emotionless spinster, to convey the personality of this elderly, formal Japanese geisha telling her story. (Even that doesn't make sense, if you know the story.) But no. It is simply a very mechanical reading. You can hear the commas, the capital letters, the white space in between the words. You can't hear the spirit, the feeling, the charm of the chararaters and the plot. I never lost myself in the story, and I could never lose my awareness of the irritating, clipped, nasal voice of this woman reading a book to me as if it were for a test in middle school.

    I know Japanese and Japanese culture, but you dont have to know much about Japan to do better than this! The narrator attempts a Japanese accent at points, but it emerges as crudely Chinese. I could hardly believe what I was hearing--"Is this some regional dialect I am unfamiliar with?" I thought. The geisha serves a cup of "sackey" (sake). What is that? Romanized Japanese is the easiest language to pronounce: it is just like Spanish. Obviously this production got the short shrift, and I am upset because it is really such a marvelous book.

    15 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 07-24-14
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 07-24-14 Member Since 2014

    I have a rather eclectic love of books. I know what I like and I tend not to be a severe critic. If I enjoyed it, it gets 4 or 5 stars.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All I can say is Wow!"

    I purchased this book because I remember people talking about it, but I really didn't know exactly what it was about. I was very surprised that it turned out to be such a wonderful story...I think I expected more of a diary-type story, but it was so much more. Also, knowing so little about pre-WWII Japan, I learned a lot about Japanese culture. It was facsinating to me. I always thought that Geisha's were prostitutes, and although some may still define them as so, they really were artists. After reading the book, I rented the movie to see how they visualized it. It was a little different, but it did help paint pictures for me in the areas that I could not imagine. It is a lovely book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Fort Oglethorpe, GA, United States 11-27-11
    Rebecca Fort Oglethorpe, GA, United States 11-27-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    "Simply amazing!"

    This is now one of my all-time favorite books.

    The writing is so compelling I felt transported to the world of the novel at all times. My house was cleaner than it had been in months because I would look for things to do (clean) so I could listen just a little bit longer!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Greenville, NC, United States 01-13-11
    K. Greenville, NC, United States 01-13-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    4
    1
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    3
    Overall
    "Sound quality good, narration...not so much"

    I have read this book numerous times and decided to purchase the audio format just so I could listen to the book while running errands or tending to housekeeping. The story line gets 25 out of 5 stars!!! On the otherhand, the narrator that was selected reads through this piece as if it were a text book. Much detail is given about the soft, charming voice in which Sayuri has. Maybe I'm naive, but I thought perhaps the publisher would hire someone that would fit the bill.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 31-40 of 281 results PREVIOUS134529NEXT
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  • Jane
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    8/14/12
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    It is great at some points sounds a bit computerized, and is in 3 parts so could become irritating but not so far.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    FAREHAM, United Kingdom
    4/22/12
    Overall
    "Wonderful"

    Another book that I've often thought of reading but have just never got around to. The superb narration really brings the book to life in such a way that I don't think anyone could fail to enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • P
    8/6/10
    Overall
    "A book to savour"

    This is a lovely book charting the journey of a impoverished Japenese village girl into becoming a geisha showing us the beauty, privilige and oppression central to this unusual life. A book about longing, love and destiny read at just the right pace in tune with the text, the language is replete with simple zen type images that are full of originality, for example, 'she had a cough a part of her as a song is part of a bird': 'I wasn't really thinking so much as struggling to put my thoughts into some kind of order. They felt to me like rice pouring from a torn sack'. A great story, a window on a disappearing world, a magical journey of pain and hope.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrea
    Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, United Kingdom
    5/28/10
    Overall
    "Superb Book"

    I read this book years ago and loved it. I decided to buy the audiobook in the hope it would stand up to my expectations, usually in these cases it would fail but I loved it. Such a fantastic book and great to listen to. Will be listening to it over and over again

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pauline
    Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, United Kingdom
    5/14/10
    Overall
    "So descriptive"

    I loved this book, you felt that you were there, the desriptions were very powerful and it was beautifully read. Having now seen the film, the book is so much better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Emma
    papworth everardUnited Kingdom
    3/4/10
    Overall
    "Awful reader"

    A fantastic book which builds an exotic and utterly foreign world. The reader however is AWFUL. I couldn't bare to listen to her for more than 5 minutes.

    Read this one instead, the reader is so poor it's not worth buying.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Rowlands Gill,, United Kingdom
    9/1/08
    Overall
    "Kyoto nights....re-told in the Waldorf Astoria"

    Much of the majesty of Kyoto is lost in this portrayal, but then you must question how much of the old kingdom is built on the broken lives that we see into in the depths of this book. At times it just seems like endless Dickensian squabbling of uber-Queen Bees and yet infused through the book is the stain of male imperialism and the female suppliance - refined into an art-form whose brutality is the shame-ridden secret at the heart of the life laid out for us.
    The act of betrayal - - and the sense of betrayal - is the missing from the film adaptation. Although the Chinese cast of contemporary beauties means that the cinema version cannot claim authenticity, it is somehow preserved in the book and is taken in full measure by the narrative delivery of this audiobook.
    Told by a Geisha to an American in a far-away city.
    Japan - and Kyoto as its essence - is a society of conflicting contrasts - beauty and disgust feed off each other with guile greed and grace. The quiet panelled rooms of the Waldorf are a quiet refuge in a world of careering madness - the gentrification of acquisition and that same greed. The overall impression of this listen is one of poetic simplicity - to visit the respective cities is to see the lie that lurks beneath, but to appreciate the artifice of a simple story told with poetry and greatness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S.
    NEWTON AYCLIFFE, United Kingdom
    6/11/08
    Overall
    "An Amazing Journey through a Life"

    I found the book entralling, engaging and totally charming from start to finish. The narration brought the book to life for me. Would recommend the book to anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    SheffieldUnited Kingdom
    2/27/06
    Overall
    "Unforgettable"

    A beautifully written and narrated book that I found very hard to stop listening to whenever I turned it on. Full of fascinating history and a story I shall definitely listen to again. I saw the film after hearing the story - I would not liked to have done it the other way round, although the film does keep quite closely to the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J-H2O
    9/15/06
    Overall
    "Memoirs of a Geisha"

    I thought this was excellent. Although initially wondering if this may appeal to women more than men, the story was intriguing, fascinating, at times moving and throughout, really absorbing. Once used to the slightly unusual narration, it became an integral (and actually essential) part of the overall presentation as the narrator clearly wanted to convey the 'Japanese' feel to the story. Like other reviewers, I found myself not wanting this to end. I can say with confidence that both men and women should really enjoy this title.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 31-40 of 40 results PREVIOUS134NEXT

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