BLURB: “This story is a rare and utterly engaging experience. It tells the extraordinary tale of a geisha -summoning up a quarter century, from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan’s dramatic history, and opening a window onto a half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation”
REVIEW: A lovely friend of mine bought this book for me for Christmas after months of asking me to read it because she loved it so much – and I’m very grateful that she introduced me to this brilliant novel. The novel tells the story of Chiyo, a young girl from a small Japanese fishing village who is sold, alongside her sister, to a man who sends them to the town of Kyoto. Chiyo and her sister Satsu are separated as Chiyo begins her training as a Geisha and Satsu is forced instead into the much more degrading occupation of prostitution. We follow Chiyo on her journey from maid to student to apprentice, until she eventually becomes the geisha Sayuri under the guidance of Mameha. Sayuri’s life as a geisha sees many ups and downs, with the vengeful Hatsumomo constantly trying to destroy her reputation and men vying for her attention. Sayuri has her heart set, however, on the Chairman she has worshipped since her teenage years; but they seem destined to never be together and her fate rests instead in the hands of many different men. Nobu is probably the most influential of these men and plays a large role in Sayuri’s life – I will confess he was a favourite character of mine and I did hope that the two of them would end up together at the end of the book! It is hard to write much more about the plot without giving away spoilers, so I shall leave my summary of the book there. The narrative is directed through the eyes of Sayuri, which allows the reader to grow hugely attached to her and come greatly to care about the troubles she experiences both before and during her time as a geisha. Golden’s writing is also beautifully descriptive and evocative, and a true pleasure to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.