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Review of Memoirs of a Geisha

I put off reading this book for a good long time, which is what I always do with novels that make headlines (I still haven't read any of Dan Brown's work). I just don't like the idea of a bunch of know-nothings sitting around and reading these immensely popular books (simply because Oprah told them to) and discussing them as though they're an authority on the topic. Yes, the books usually are quite good, but I hate it when people blow the 'good' out of proportion just to jump on the bandwagon and sound intelligent. However, I knew I had to read Memoirs of a Geisha at some point, so when I got it for my birthday from Shaun, I was ready for some serious readage.

As far as entertainment went, Memoirs of a Geisha was good. I don't think I've ever been so sucked in by a first paragraph in my entire life! As the story progressed, it was still a good read. There were a few slow parts, but overall, I think I was pretty involved in the characters. After all, I ditched Shaun's lovely conversation for more reading. My complaints? A weak middle part. I actually felt like there was no middle of the story - there was the beginning, a build-up, and an end, but there was no real climax. Arthur Golden didn't do a very good job of describing just how amazing Sayuri was at the peak of her career. She never really felt like a famous, successful geisha the way you would expect. Also, I found her life after the war to be very short and brief, as though he was trying to squeeze a bunch of random facts in. I think the way he did this made me feel a bit like I had read an incomplete novel, which was a bit of a disappointment.

My other huge issue was just how self obsessed Sayuri was. I'm still trying to decide whether or not Golden meant her to be this way. As soon as she had taken the place of Pumpkin in terms of favour, I knew Pumpkin would be bitter and play some sort of betraying role later on. However, I don't think Sayuri even mentioned Pumpkin. If the point was to make Sayuri seem self-centred, it worked, but it also made her seem like an idiot, and contradicted the way she was in other sections of the novel.

Other characters as well, I felt were developed in one way, and then turned around and said/did something that their character wouldn't have said. Consistency of personality could have been polished. I'm not saying that people can't be unpredictable, but their actions have to make sense.

Nit picking aside, I enjoyed this book. I don't know about accuracy (I'm certainly not going to start lecturing about what Geishas 'were really like'), but as a fun, light read, it was a good one.

Added by Rosemarie
16 years ago on 24 April 2006 00:24