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Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook
Memoirs of a Geisha
Written by: 
Arthur Golden
Narrated by: 
Bernadette Dunne
 >   > 
Memoirs of a Geisha Audiobook

Memoirs of a Geisha

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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 (4564 )
5 star
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4.6 (1834 )
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Story
4.5 (1814 )
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:
  •  
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    220
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    19
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    FOLLOWING
    5
    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.

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02
    HELPFUL VOTES
    184
    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!

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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.

    42 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. 12-01-05
    M. 12-01-05 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    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!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 01-31-09
    Lori 01-31-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    231
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    202
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    21
    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
  •  
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    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

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    340
    ratings
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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.

    33 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 06-21-12
    Jan 06-21-12 Member Since 2011

    Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1910
    ratings
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    494
    226
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    159
    11
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    Story
    "I waited too long"

    I was afraid this book would contain graphic sex and I was hesitant to purchase it... waited way too long. Of course the story can't be told without sexual relationships, however, they are so beautifully and simply told that I couldn't find it offensive. Adult reading for sure...but not vulgar. Such a beautiful story, I came away not wanting to read anything else for a while and keep this one in my thoughts.

    5 of 5 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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    3
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    0
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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
Sort by:
  • Karen
    Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
    3/9/06
    Overall
    "An Emotional Rollercoaster"

    This was my first audible buy and it has really set the standard - I could not bear to be separated from my i-pod as I listened to this gripping story. I was completely absorbed by the story and felt I was sharing all of Sayuri's highs and lows - it was a real rollercoaster of emotions where I found my self screaming out loud at some points as you saw the naivety of some of her decisions/actions and cheering when certain individuals got their just desserts! My 14 year old son has also listened to it and enjoyed it as much as I did (although he probably wouldn?t admit it to his friends!) We both found it a wonderful, moving tale, beautifully narrated.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Coleen
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    1/9/06
    Overall
    "Didn't want it to end.................."

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Had previously read the book (albeit some time ago)but none of the enjoyment was lost. Well written and ably narrated, you become truly lost in the life of a Geisha and of Japan before, during and after WW11.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • J. barrow
    Surrey U.K.
    1/30/06
    Overall
    "A remarkable life"

    Beautifully written in an elegant style befitting its subject and brought to life by superb narration. I was carried along by the emotion in this captivating story. I did not want it to end.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Jeanette
    ShenleyUnited Kingdom
    11/27/05
    Overall
    "Amazing !!"

    I had no idea how good it would be but once I started could not stop listening !!! An amazing true story, beautifully written and always with such emotion and elegance.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Christine
    Whitehead, Antrim, United Kingdom
    8/16/08
    Overall
    "fascinating insight"

    I had Memoirs of a Geisha for several months before I listened to it. Somehow I thought it might be a bit dry but from the first few minutes I was captivated.

    Information about how the author came to write the book is interesting and adds to the overall picture.

    The personal story is told with great detail and no self pity - it is a fascinating insight into the world of Geishas and Japan at that time.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    11/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What's with this narrator?"
    Any additional comments?

    I listened to the abridged version before this full version. Why did they change the narrators? The Japanese narrator was far better, and didn't mispronounce Japanese words. It's highly irritating. I enjoy getting immersed into a book by the narrator but this Bernadette Dunne did a poor, robotic and dull job.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Carolyn
    Hampton, United Kingdom
    11/13/06
    Overall
    "better than I thought it wopuld be!"

    There were parts of this story that I found slightly dull, but at no point did I want to stop listening. I think it paints a colourful picture of pre-war Japan without lengthy or boring description. A little sadness, a little love, revenge and intrigue and a story that maintains a good pace throughout most of the book. I was suprised that such a story could keep me so entertained.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Oliver
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    3/16/06
    Overall
    "Robotic narration"

    I am somewhat bemused by the other reviews of this. The book may well be fine though to me the prose seems to be rather clunky - I can't tell - I may not be doing it justice as the narration is so appalling. The narrator has a painfully de-lib-er-ate style of delivery almost completely lacking in inflexion and expression - bizarre. To me it sounds like nothing more than an old-style voice simulator. Odd and near-unlistenable.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Joanne
    Ras Al Khaimah
    3/6/06
    Overall
    "Amazing..."

    So much colour, texture and smells eminate from this book that I didn't want it to end. Dazzling story of a most misunderstood role in life.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • 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

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