WEEKLY WONDER: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (#48)

Hey everyone!

Welcome to Weekly Wonder where we suggest a book per week!

This week’s Wonder is:

Memoirs of A Geisha, Arthur Golden.


Memoirs of A Geisha is the story of a geisha named Nitta Sayuri. Formerly —– Chiyo, Memoirs is her narration of how she went from a misfortunate fishing village girl to a full-fledged geisha who came to be the most popular and sought after geisha in the history of Kyoto. Emotional and rich in visual imagery, Memoirs mesmerises effortlessly.


“I could no more have stopped myself from feeling that sadness than you could stop yourself from smelling an apple that has been cut open on the table before you.”

“We none of us find as much kindness in this world as we should.”

“Now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.”

“Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When they become old women they look silly wearing even one.”

“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume us completely.”

“You cannot say to the sun, ‘More sun,’ or to the rain, ‘Less rain.’ To a man, geisha can only be half a wife. We are the wives of nightfall. And yet, to learn kindness after so much unkindness, to understand that a little girl with more courage than she knew, would find her prayers were answered, can that not be called happiness? After all these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen. These are memoirs of another kind.”


  • ‌I watched the movie first and loved it to bits. I had my reservations about reading the book (as we have seen, time and again, the book delights and the film disappoints.) However, I cast aside all my apprehensions five pages into the novel. The film adaptation and the book, in this rare case, were at par.
  • ‌The narration is pleasant to read. There are no mighty metaphors or lengthy philosophical musings. Simple, subtle arrangements of words that leave you gasping for breath.
  • These memoirs are not written by the narrator, Sayuri, herself. They have been written by Arthur Golden, a male American. HIs imaginative empathy and depth of knowledge on the subject help the book retain its authenticity.
  • An interesting view on what can be perceived as a twisted form of feminism- the geisha culture. Geishas were respected and were often quite powerful members of society.
  • A refreshing change of cultural setting. After having spent atleast a year reading American and British literature, this book came as a breath of fresh air.
  • Check out the movie!



  • There are certain parts of the book that drag on far too long.
  • Not everyone will understand the nuances of actually being a geisha. Geisha are not “glorified prostitutes.” They are talented entertainers.


  • People with a fondness for memoirs.
  • People who love Japanese culture. Agreed, this is no anime, but it’s still very interesting.
  • People who like (somewhat) happy endings.


I hope you enjoy this book.

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Happy Reading!



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