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.
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
"Cheesy with bad narration, but enjoyable anyway"
There are a couple of strange things about this novel. First is the narration. I initially hated Bernadette Dunne's novel so much I wasn't sure I would make it to the end. I did eventually get used to it, though. It's not great, but with a little perseverance it does become listenable.
Secondly, there's the introductory chapter, which purports to be the translator's notes. I was quite some way into this book before I worked out that it wasn't a true story, or even based on one. When I did, I felt like I'd been misled.
As for the story itself, I certainly had no trouble becoming immersed in it and I really enjoyed it. It's hard to say why, though, because the characters were all very 2 dimensional as was most of the plot. I think it was ultimately carried by sheer cheesy feel-good factor.
"Riveting and beautifully read"
I really enjoyed this-I went through a myriad of emotions whilst listening and felt I learnt a lot about the culture of Japan too. You will not be disappointed.
"Lovely audible imagery"
I read the text version of this novel many years ago, and remembered enjoying it, but finding it hard going. This is the way it was meant to be consumed in my opinion - you have a narrator who is simply talking to her scribe. That's the way Arthur Golden collected the many hours of memories, by sitting and listening to someone who was just talking to him. Bernadette Dunne has a great voice, good characterisation and never interferes with the flow of the book.
There are good guys and bad guys (not always who you'd expect), there is love, loss and tea ceremony.
In the end though, there are just so many things that are made real by the poetic descriptions. My journeys to work have never been so good!
It is great at some points sounds a bit computerized, and is in 3 parts so could become irritating but not so far.
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.
"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.
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
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.
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.
"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.
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