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Editorial 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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

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.

19 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

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felt like I was in Gion myself the whole time.

the narration could've been better, since it felt less Japanese and a little more robotic in the tone. But this is the first audio book ive managed to finish. felt exactly what a 'page-turner' book would get like in audio version.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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phenomenal

such an amazing book. I listen to the entire thing over a course of two days during any spare second that I had.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This book is my favorite that I've ever read.

This book is absolutely wonderful. It gives such an accurate and well researched look into the real world of the geisha all while giving you so many emotional twists and turns that you can't keep up. Memoirs of a Geisha is excellently written and utterly gripping. I recommend this book to everyone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Beautifully written

I can't really express how much I enjoyed this book. Being Japanese and understanding a bit more of the history is truly valuable. I'm grateful for this Geisha for sharing such a personal story.
I felt so immersed in the story that I hated having to pause for work. That's how amazing this book was. The vivid pictures that were painted with such clarity made me feel as if I were living it myself. Once my emotions calm down, I'll be listening to this again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A beautiful and an enchanting story

This book about a little girl that became a Geisha, is beautiful and touching. The narrating was a bit strange to start with, but enhances the story really well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Problems with Audio Book

I tried the audio book. I loved the story but had a hard time because the audio would cut out every so often, for periods of 10 to 40 seconds at a time. I would miss parts of conversations. A few times, the audio was fixed when I rewind but sometimes, it wouldn't.
As for the performance, I would have preferred if the reader would have at least attempted to pronounce the Japanese names and phrases more natively. As a voice actress, I'm sure she could have spent 15 minutes to practice the syllabels so she wouldn't butcher the Japanese phrases so badly. Thank god there wasn't much Japanese (other than the names) because I would not have been able to finish the book otherwise.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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performance almost ruins the book

I read the book and loved the story. I thought it would be great to listen to on a recent road trip. I immediately regretted not listening to the sample before I purchased it. The narrator is just horrible.
Eventually, I just let it drone on as white noise in the background. Very disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good story

While I enjoyed the story and the narrator had a pleasant voice, I found her attempt to sound Japanese and at the same time mispronouncing quite a lot of easy words very distracting. It would have taken her about a half hour to learn the basic sounds of the language to learn to pronounce words far better. She still would have made mistakes of course.

I am also quite frustrated in the inaccuracies between a true Geisha (read Geisha of Gion) and this book, when the author of that book was the woman interviewed for this fictional story.

Overall this is worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Fiona
  • 01-07-15

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

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  • Arthur
  • 07-07-14

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 !!

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  • Joykie Burger
  • 02-19-14

Fascinating

A very compelling story so well written that I looked up the artist she mentioned, only to find he's a fictional character! She had me completely convinced it was all the truth. What I was told about Geisha's is totally different to what I now know. Maybe what I was told is the truth ... who knows?

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  • Crackdown
  • 10-03-13

A classic book in the making.

I read the book when it came out, and thought then it had the makings to become a classic. Lovely to see in on audible.

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  • Amanda
  • 06-28-13

A superb book

What made the experience of listening to Memoirs of a Geisha the most enjoyable?

I loved the history lesson within the story, my favourite kind of book

What did you like best about this story?

The personal insight into the lives of Geishas was fascinating, a truly remarkable book, worth every penny.

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  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
  • 05-11-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Lindsay
  • 04-14-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Andrielle
  • 04-13-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Tessi
  • 04-13-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Sally
  • 04-07-13

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.