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Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook

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 (4423 )
5 star
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Overall
4.6 (1697 )
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Story
4.5 (1677 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Robert Enid, OK, USA 02-13-05
    Robert Enid, OK, USA 02-13-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    4
    4
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    "A Tale of Strength and Courage"

    This is a wonderful and powerful piece of writing. The story is almost impossible to put down. The pace and plot are compelling, and the characters are vivid. The author finds drama in everyday life, and the narrator carries the story well. Set in a period spanning the waning days of the quasi-feudal Japanese Empire and the post war era, the story contains characters that resilient and true, placed in settings that challenge their moral fiber.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shana Redmond, WA, USA 07-04-04
    Shana Redmond, WA, USA 07-04-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    0
    0
    Overall
    "I couldn't put my earbuds down...."

    I'm not normally a patient listener. And I must confess, I've read Memoirs of a Geisha in paperback form and wasn't that impressed. But in this Audiobook version, the narrator is so skilled and so entrancing that I had trouble putting the book down. Her slow, thoughtful pace brings out the beautiful poetry of the book, in a way I hadn't properly appreciated when I rushed through it speed-reading. I found myself longing to hear more from Saiyuri, and made up excuses to go listen to my audiobook rather than watch TV.

    This is definatelly a must-listen book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 05-11-04
    Laurie East Millstone, NJ, United States 05-11-04 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    0
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    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
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    23
    8
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    "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
    5
    ratings
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    22
    4
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    0
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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 01-24-04
    Judy 01-24-04 Member Since 2011

    jazkibbe

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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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
  •  
    James K. Freda 09-14-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
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    15
    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.

    18 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RacerX 09-24-03
    RacerX 09-24-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    109
    5
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    "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
  •  
    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
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  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
    Guildford, United Kingdom
    5/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent, a wonderful story and a real eye opener"

    This is a wonderful story, well narrated. I found it an addictive read. It creates a vivid picture of Geisha life and I learnt so much about Japanese and Geisha culture from this. You really felt you'd got to know the characters and I was sad when it was over. Definitely read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lindsay
    Surrey
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "Memoirs of a geisha"

    This is one of the best books I have read (listened to). It is deeply moving and gives an insight to the life of a geisha. I would recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrielle
    Feltham, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Fantastic listen"

    I really enjoyed this book, I am not generally a fan of memoirs but the writer in this case give such a detailed account of such an unusal life I could not stop listening. The story is sad, exciting, exhilarating, heart-warming and fasinating all at once. I would highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tessi
    Uk
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "let down by the narration"

    I love everything about this book and it sent me on a journey to read all I could about Geisha.



    I was really looking forward to listening to this but the narration is poorly carried out. In parts I can't work out if the sound quality is the problem or if it's the narrators voices changing. I was so disappointed, I returned the recording but maybe my expectations were too high as it's such a favourite book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    Maldon, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Beautiful"

    I read this book a number of years ago and was captivated by it. The narration is spot on and I was disappointed by the audiobook in any way. This title remains one of my all time favourites. I will listen again in a few years time and be transported into the secretive and magical world of the geisha all over again. A must listen title.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eileen
    northampton, United Kingdom
    11/25/12
    Overall
    "Book good but"

    I read this book and its fantastic - listening s another thing, the narrator is dreadful, it's an American who reads in monotone- dreadful

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    United Kingdom
    9/24/12
    Overall
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kay
    Notts, United Kingdom
    9/11/12
    Overall
    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Maggie Kelly
    Moseley, United Kingdom
    9/10/12
    Overall
    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 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

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