Saturday, 20 July 2013

Memoirs of a Geisha - A review

When I first read this book I was still in high school, I had seen the Japanese women with the painted faces in movies and other such media before, the women that entertained wealthy businessmen and Politicians,  but not in the way Arthur Golden captures the world of the geisha. Since then I have read this book maybe about three or four times it is truly an excellent book that holds true to the nature of the enigmatic geisha of Japan.
The book is based in the early 1900’s and you are taken to a small rural town where children still walk barefooted and play naked in a river. All the right heart strings are intertwined to make you feel you are linked to the main character by an unknown force and eventually you find yourself in Gion the city known for sexual trade of that era .It is a grand task to capture the geisha of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but one which is certainly achieved by Arthur Golden in an eloquent manner. There is a movie as well that is based on the book, but as is the practise of many readers we swear violently on reading the book first. The movie however lives up to the standard of the book in defining the life of the geisha and somehow having the same essence of the characters that I had envisioned in the book.
Throughout the movie you are being exposed to various types of relationships from the way the geisha is groomed from a child to the way she is received in the structured Japanese way of life. I find myself remembering little details of delicate hair combs and bows that need to be done in a specific manner. However I must not get carried away with my love of Japanese culture this book brings to light many sensitive issues which the Japanese Geisha were forced to participate in…
The overall clandestine life of the geisha is exposed in its brutal traditions and practises in a way that I have not seen done before in Japanese historical style novels. A book that I thoroughly enjoyed and engaged with on more than one occasion, each time discovering something that I had over looked the first time and revelling in its formation of a world unseen.
Kameshini Pillay

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