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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 (4008 )
5 star
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4.6 (1311 )
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Story
4.5 (1297 )
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
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  •  
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    204
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent"

    This is on my top 10 list of books I'd take to a desert island, no, top 5 list. I was mesmerized by the haunting beauty of the writing. Especially as it is not the kind of book I would normally have chosen. I have recommended it to all fo my friends.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    178
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    568
    59
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "Best Book in a while"

    This book was the most intriguing, fascinating book I have read in many years. I simply couldn't stop listening to it and I have recommended it to many of my friends. One of my friends even got a copy of the book for Christmas. No matter what type of story you like, I recommend you read or listen to this book!

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    Overall
    "Amazing!"

    I loved this book! I am a very "picky" reader and this book has it all - a great story, beautiful writing, engaging characters, excellent pacing and suspense, moments that will touch your heart, everything! I especially enjoyed the metaphors used by the author throughout the story and watching her learn and philosophize about life as it takes each turn for her. I also gained amazing insights into Japanese culture and human nature. This is a must read, a masterpiece, a manual for living all in one. I now enjoy the wisdom from having lived two lives: mine and one of a Geisha's

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    0
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    "Memoirs gave me much to think about!"

    I did not expect this to be such a compelling, intriguing book. I had no idea I would yearn to hear more and more. At it's end, I am sad it's over but feel Sayuri has left me with many good things. I will listen to this again.

    I definitely recommend this book.

    41 of 43 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary S 12-01-05
    Mary S 12-01-05 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Outstanding!"

    An absolutely fantastic journey into a world of heritage, culture, self-discovery, passion, emotion.....well, need I say more! Bernadette Dunne is an excellent narrator, who catapults you alongside each step of Sayuri' life. The author, Mr. Golden, is a masterful, vivid writer. Immediately, upon listening to the first couple of minutes, I was transported into each segment of the story.

    I am a Premium subscriber with hundreds of logged listening hours of fine books. This is the first time that I was moved enough by a great book to take the time to tell the world what a fine work of art Mr. Golden has given us. I can't wait to see the movie!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 01-31-09
    Lori 01-31-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    191
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    44
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    7
    17
    Overall
    "Fascinating!"

    This was one of my first downloads from Audible. I found myself living with my earphones on and neglecting human interaction with my children and my husband because I wanted to continue the story and had to force myself to hit the pause button.

    At the very beginning, I wasn't sure I liked the narrator, but within half an hour, her voice became the voice of the geisha for me and by a quarter of the way through the book, I couldn't imagine another voice being able to set the proper mood.

    I thoroughly enjoyed peering into the mysterious and time-honored traditions of a geisha - fascinating! Definitely well worth a credit.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    29
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Perfect ---- in every way"

    As a fluent (second-language) speaker of Japanese, I was shocked to read that many found the narrator's pronunciation "incorrect". Ms. Dunne has narrated various accents, from a young Japanese girl to a middle-aged Jewish woman (Garlic & Sapphires...), and did a fantastic job with them all. Her pronunciation of the English language was done with the inflection of a native Japanese speaker. Please consider the artistry of speech when listening to an Audiobook. "Not taking the time to learn the correct pronunciation" may not at all be the case.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    324
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    196
    27
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    3
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    Overall
    "In Defense of the Narrator"

    This is the best novel I have ever listened to. As a guy who spends at least 3 hours a day commuting to and from work, I have listen to a lot of audio books. I want to come to the defense of the narrator, who has been disparaged by several reviewers. She is perfect in every way. Her voice is beautiful and exotic. And she plays the part exactly as I envision Sayuri would speak if she were telling her story - elegantly, but with a matter-of-fact cadence and a detachment required for her sanity and dignity. Of course, you are free to question the wisdom of a guy who spends at least 3 hours a day commuting to and from work.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Frank California, USA 11-23-08
    B. Frank California, USA 11-23-08 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "BEAUTY AT ITS BEST!!!!"

    This book effectively brings to mind the vivid beauty of the Asian world. The images that the author describes are palpable. I saw the movie about a year or two prior to listening to this audio book. It definitely pales in comparison. Although the movie does a pretty good job of highlighting some of the main events, it does not do what the book is capable of, sharing with Western world the true life of the Geisha.

    I now have a solid, elementary, understanding of the Geisha. No longer does my mind immediately shoot to the image of a high classed prostitute, or call girl, when I think of the Geisha. The author does a wonderful job of fully explaining everything, while maintaining the compelling aspects of the story.

    Very riveting, exciting, sad, and beautiful, the life of a Geisha is a must read. I wholly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates beauty. The irony of the story is its paradoxical play on the complexities of manmade beauty. The Geisha must at all times be perfect while her life and love are sacrificed in an effort to give men, who choose her, absolute psychological, and sometimes physical, pleasure.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Lufkin, TX, USA 01-10-04
    Don Lufkin, TX, USA 01-10-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    39
    1
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    0
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    "A good story, well told"

    Even now, I have to remind m yself that this book is a work of fiction. The characters were all so vivid that I can picture each of them in my mind's eye, just as clearly as if I had spent many evenings with them, drinking sake at the Ichi-Rikki Teahouse. More than once, I had the sensation of being in another place, enjoying the company of an aging but still elegant geisha as she told me the fascinating story of her extraordinary life.

    This book is, simply put, a pleasure - not to mention a fine work that should stand the test of time.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Anita
    Bodedern, Holyhead, United Kingdom
    2/20/10
    Overall
    "Memoirs of a Geisha"

    I thought this was a beautiful book, the narration was excellent and I enjoyed it enormously.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Craig
    Denny, United Kingdom
    9/14/08
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    This has to be one of my favorite audiobooks, the story is captivating and the book is narated well, i found myself being drawn into the world of the book and have now spent many enjoyable hours immersing myself within it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone - enjoy

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nigel
    halesowen, west midlands, United Kingdom
    3/4/06
    Overall
    "Try it: it's worth it"

    I usually read more action based memoirs, or biographies. I had read so much about this book that, although I did not fancy reading it, I did want to hear the story. This book is read with an authenticity which brings it to life. The narrator takes you to the heart of the story, albeit that some parts of the story seem take time to be told, I found myself lost in the time it took to tell them. The most remarkable thing about this memoir is that the characters' lives overlapped mine by over thirty years, at times you will think you are listening to an account of the 17th or 18th century.
    If you usually listen to more action packed books give this one a go its one of the best true life books I've read, or listened to, in a very long time.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Llangollen, Denbighshire, United Kingdom
    2/28/06
    Overall
    "Wonderful"

    I never wanted to end and then it did. Now I'm lost, they don't get better than this

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lisa Crowe
    4/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating insight into Japanese culture"

    Brilliant story. An eye opener on a different take on society and women's place versus men. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter where you go it's the same world over. Men's abuse of power over women . Having said that this is first and last a love story. A story of triumph over opposition, a story of humanity. A story of a very different life. The comments regarding the narration are very unfair. It is a story told by a lady looking back on her remarkable life. A life of very defined behaviour told very well by the narrator. I found the narration very good to be honest and appropriate..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Welshy
    4/22/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    This book is a feast for the ears,a life story and a wealth of facts and history. It is so descriptive you feel you are there too! The authentic sound of the narrators voice adds to the charm. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Emily
    4/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Incredible"
    Any additional comments?

    An incredibly moving and inspiring story and one of my favourites since I was much younger. Was upset when I found out it wasn't a real memoir however it was written so elegantly you really can believe that the author is an old ex geisha telling her story. Highly descriptive insight into a world we never really get to hear about and a wonderful novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Adam
    London, United Kingdom
    1/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Robotic Voice"
    What did you like most about Memoirs of a Geisha?

    Great story, already read the book twice before, and still enjoyed the audiobook.


    What didn’t you like about Bernadette Dunne’s performance?

    I don't know if this is a production issue but the narrators voice sounds very robotic, to the point where I questioned whether it was actually read by a human.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    Bracknell, United Kingdom
    1/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent my favourite book by far"

    Fantastic listen , history , family true life . War
    Beautifully narrated could listen to straight again now .
    Thanks loved it Arthur Golden

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Arthur
    Gympie, Australia
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Way, Way better than the Film !!"

    This is a gripping story and the detail is incredible. It opens up a whole new insight to the world of Geisha. After finishing the book I just happened to be lent the DVD of the film. Well, dont bother, it was like watching an advert for the book !!
    This book is a thoughly entertaining listen.............I found it so difficult to put the head-phones down !!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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