Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Drum roll, please.....

I have often wondered what it might be like to review a book, and a movie based on that book, back to back. When "Memoirs of a Geisha" hit the screen last month I found the perfect opportunity to do that, except, there was one problem - I had read the book nearly a decade ago and couldn't count on my seive-like memory to provide details for a review. Luckily for me, my friend Nisha who has just finished reading the book, bailed me out by agreeing to do the book review--- so a drum roll, please, to welcome Nisha as "Lotus Reads" first guest reviewer:

Over to Nisha:
"I felt as a bird must feel when it has flown across the ocean and comes upon a creature that knows its nest.’
‘Was life nothing more than a storm that constantly washed away what had been there only a moment before, and left behind something barren and unrecognizable?’
‘We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.’

Beautiful words from a truly beautiful book! I loved Memoirs of a Geisha from beginning to end. Couldn’t put it down (love books like that!) and enjoyed learning about the life of a geisha.

Before I start this review, I have to admit that I looked up a few book reviews for inspiration. I’ve never written one before and I needed some help! One paragraph in a review caught my eye and I have to put it in here –

"...Near the beginning of the book, Sayuri says she used to joke that someone had poked a hole in her eyes and all the ink had drained out. While her translucent gray eyes do guide the reader through nearly 40 years, that spilled ink gracefully rolls onto Golden's pages, forming the alluring curves and supple lines of this elegant debut..." Mark Luce

Now if I could write like that, I would have said the same thing!

Here’s a brief summary of the book -- Memoirs of a Geisha follows young Chiyo-chan from her unglamorous beginnings as the child of a peasant fisherman to her life as a successful geisha. Her parents' ill health and poverty force them to sell their two children to the geisha houses of Gion. Chiyo is traumatized after being separated from her sister and thrust into a life as a maid in the Nitta okiya. Here she finds an existence unlike any she has known. After suffering much abuse from a powerful senior geisha, it seems her future leads nowhere, save the detested brothels. It isn't until a chance encounter that Chiyo's future begins to look up. From here, Golden gives us a poignant and elegant portrait of a young geisha coming of age.

As Lotusflower has mentioned in her blog , the geisha ( Mineko Iwasaki) Arthur Golden interviewed for the book says that the details he provided about her life are not true at all and has published a book with her version of a geisha’s life. Iwasaki claims that Golden's fictional novel portrays geisha as high class prostitutes. I find it intriguing…who is right? Is Iwasaki hiding something that Arthur uncovered? Or is she right and is just protecting geishas’ reputations?

I was a little disappointed in the end…I was very happy for Chiyo but it seemed like an ending that was created to make the reader happy. A feel-good ending to leave us on a good note after all the troubles she went through. Aside from that, I totally recommend this book that will take you on a lovely journey of a geisha's life.

In the next post, Lotus Reads will review the movie.