Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
What’s it about? In Memoirs of a Geisha, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. Sayuri’s story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-grey eyes, she is taken from her home and sold to a Geisha House in the Gion District of Kyoto. Her fate continually twists, along with Japan’s, before, during and after World War II.
Is it any good? Bernadette Dunne does a fine job as narrator. Some reviewers on Audible have complained about her reserved style, but for me the narration was both appropriate for the story and successful in transporting me to another time and culture.
The verdict? Memoirs of a Geisha is one of the most popular audio books on Audible with a score, at the time of publishing this review, of 4.51 out of 5 based on 2,544 customer ratings. Despite this I had avoided the audio book for quite some time as I didn’t think the topic would interest me. Well, I finally decided to see what the fuss was about and downloaded the audio book. It turned out to be one of the most compelling and intriguing audio books I have come across. You know, the sort that makes you purposely drive slower or stay sitting in a parked car after reaching your destination so that you can listen to more of the story (for those of us who listen to audiobooks in the car).
The insights into both Japanese culture and human nature are fascinating. While it is a work of fiction, I was convinced I was listening to a true story, which is a credit to the author Arthur Golden for the 10 years he spent researching every detail of geisha culture. If you’re worried about the sexual content, don’t be – it is very discreet and appropriate. And you will probably find the audio book clears up a number of common misconceptions about the nature of the geisha profession (it certainly did for me).