Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Report: Memoirs of a Geisha

I'd heard so many rave reviews of Memoirs of a Geisha (pronounced gay-shuh) that I was really looking forward to reading it. It's listed on Waterstones' top 25 books of the last 25 years, was the BBC's #62 of best loved novels in 2003, was a New York Times bestseller in 1997, and hyped as one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 Edition).

So did it live up to my expectations? Sort of. I liked it. But, I didn't feel any love.

The book follows the life of a 20th century woman [Sayuri] from young girlhood through her later years. Born extremely poor, her parents both die, but not before they sell her to an okiya [geisha house] with the intent of grooming her to become a geisha.

Maybe I'm too ingrained in my own wesern culture to fully appreciate the Japanese culture. Granted, I knew nothing about geishas before reading this book [I probably even called them gee-shuz].

Even though the main role of a geisha is to be an `entertainer', it's really the role of sex partner I don't understand. Apparently, married Japanese men (at least in this era) were practically expected to take lovers--the geisha provided this service. Much of the book focuses on the selling of Sayuri's virginity to the highest bidder.

I liked the first 3/4 of the book better than the last quarter. Still, it doesn't make it into my top 20. Or 50 for that matter.

1 comment:

Shoeaddict said...

I really liked this book. I didn't like the movie. I thinks it's hilarious that you pronouced it gee-shuz!! :)

Oprah had the only white geisha on her show yesterday. She was all offended when Oprah brought up the sex thing. She said that sex is not part of it. It's all tea pouring and playing (musical) instruments.