TITLE: Memoirs of a Geisha PUB. DATE: 1997
GENRE: Historical Fiction PAGES: 428
PACING: leisurely unfolding, densely written, engrossing
CHARACTERIZATIONS: detailed, vivid, well-developed, intriguing secondary characters
STORY LINE: character centered, resolved ending
FRAME: exotic, details on Geisha culture and traditions, historical details, charming
Nine years old Chiyo is sold and taken away from her family to a large city of Kyoto. In order to pay debt she has to work as a maid and undergoes cruel treatment at the hand of owners and a head geisha Hatsumomo. Once she meets a chairman, she is determined to become a geisha so she can have a better life and become his companion one day. Chiyo, under her new geisha name Sayuri, returns back to geisha school and thanks to her talents, unique color of her eyes, and great mentorship from her Geisha mentor, Sayuri becomes a famous geisha. Sayuri has to still keep watching for Hatsumomo and Pumpkin who are jealous of her success and undermine her position at all times. Sayuri is still in love with the chairman who does not show any interests in her. During WW2 Sayuri has to leave Kyoto but after her return she meets with the chairman who also expresses his feelings toward her; Sayuri is not a geisha anymore; she becomes the chairman’s mistress.
Geographical setting: Japan
Time period: 1930s – 1950s
Subject headings: Geishas, Japan, women, culture, social life, prostitution, history, manners and customs
SIMILAR AUTHORS: Tracy Chevalier, Amy Tan, Katherine Govier, Anchee Min, Lisa See, Lesley Downer, Philippa Gregory
This elegantly written novel is considered as a historical novel and beautifully depicts customs and traditions of Geisha culture. The story portrays lives of Geishas in realistic way; historical details are accurate. The author describes that period by using “authentic” language and style so that reader can easily imagine that historical era. (Saricks, 2009, p.292)
Saricks, J.G. (2009). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association (ALA).