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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)

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Average Customer Rating

4.5 (3704 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02
    Stephanie Cayce, SC, USA 12-14-02 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    171
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    568
    59
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    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!

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    Linda Bethlehem, PA, USA 02-01-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    199
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    19
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    3
    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.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    Alene Montgomery, TX, USA 12-12-02
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
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    3
    3
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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.

    40 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    Christopher Shrewsbury, NJ, USA 10-22-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    0
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    "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

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04
    Michael Baltimore, MD, USA 05-30-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    316
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    196
    27
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    2
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    "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.

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Hillsborough, NC, USA 10-11-05
    Kathy Hillsborough, NC, USA 10-11-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    1
    1
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    "So good that I had to write my first review"

    Wow! I began listening to audio books about 6 months ago while commuting. I used to read hard copy of the usual predictable best selling fiction authors--crime, adventure, suspense, a little romance. 'Memoirs' was outside of my usual box and I'm thrilled that I did that.
    This has been my favorite and provoked me to write my first review. The narrator was wonderful and the story full of imagery and the characters were so richly painted for me. It's a gentle, thoughtful listen.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Newport Beach, CA, United States 12-10-04
    David Newport Beach, CA, United States 12-10-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    18
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    "So Real I thought it Was Non-Fiction"

    I bought the printed book some time ago but never got around to reading it so I decided to get the audible version. I am glad I did as it is probably the best audio book I have heard to date. From the very beginning I was entranced and drawn into the world of this Geisha. The accent and tone of the narrator was so appropriate it made me believe it really was Sayuri telling her story to me. I could not stop listening until the story had been told through to the end. In fact it wasn't until I picked up the physical book did I realize that this was in fact a fictional novel based on actual historical facts rather than a true biography.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary S 12-01-05
    Mary S 12-01-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    7
    6
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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!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-31-09
    01-31-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    177
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    197
    43
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    7
    15
    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    Amanda Evanston, IL, USA 02-08-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    28
    1
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    "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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 274 results PREVIOUS1228NEXT
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  • 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: 31-38 of 38 results PREVIOUS134NEXT

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