Book By My Bedside: Memoirs of a Geisha // Arthur Golden

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Title: Memoirs of a Geisha

Author: Arthur Golden

What I think So Far: When I feel particularly gripped by a book, it can go either one of two ways – I either hungrily finish it within three days, or I read it on public transport in an attempt to savour it. In the case of Memoirs of a Geisha, it’s firmly in the latter.

The story is composed of the memoirs of Chiyo Sakamoto. It chronicles her journey as a young girl living in a fishing village in the Japanese sea, to becoming Nitta Sayuri, one of the most famous geisha in Kyoto. Memoirs of a Geisha is not only a great source of information for those interested in Japanese history, but is also a beautifully written coming of age novel. The reader easily comes to care for and support the quest of young Chiyo, thrust into womanhood and a drastically different city at such a young age. Some of the most fascinating aspects of this book are the nuggets of insight you gain along the way – the highly superstitious nature of the geisha, the elegant and refined customs (such as the tea ceremonies), and how natural elements are used to describe character – “my mother always said she’d married my father because she had too much water in her personality and he had too much wood in his”.

Would I recommend? I am ashamed to admit that I had little inkling of what a geisha was before reading this book, but Japanese culture had recently become an interest of mine after reading the works of Haruki Murakami. For anyone with similar interests, I thoroughly recommend this book because it makes for a fascinating and informative read. Generally, I recommend this book because it is so delicately written and enjoyable.

“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smoulder on like a fire does, and sometimes consume us completely.” – Nitta Sayuri

Rating: 10/10

Words by Rose Wolfe-Emery

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