I almost did not want to review this book because I have seen the film so many times I didn’t think I’d be able to read the book objectively. I was right…
Without the context of my world literature class, where I have been learning about many things Japanese, I may not have enjoyed the small references in this book as much. I believe the movie does the book justice — there are only a few differences, none of which seem major.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of watching the film or reading the book yet, Memoirs of a Geisha is just that — it’s the telling of a girl (Chiyo/Sayuri) who was sold to be a geisha and her trials, tribulations, triumphs. It also focuses heavily on her obsession with the Chairman (I won’t give his full name, in case some of you don’t know). She bases her entire life on maneuvering to get closer to him.
I love the way that I feel immersed in Japanese culture when I read this book. All the little things really add up to make it a pleasurable experience. Every character seems extremely realistic, and nothing feels out of place. I can tell Arthur Golden spent a long time researching geisha’s every day activities to give this story the depth that it has.
If you enjoyed the movie, or are interested in geisha and Japanese culture, you should definitely read this book. It’s very similar, but with added depth and detail. It moves along quickly and does a great job of making you want to invest your time in the characters.