Memoirs of a Geisha

Publisher: Vintage Canada
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.

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Chapter One

Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That afternoon when I met so-and-so . . . was the very best afternoon of my...
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READING GUIDE

The questions, discussion topics, and suggested reading list that follow are intended to enhance your group's experience of reading Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. We hope that they will give you a number of interesting ideas and angles from which to approach this enthralling debut novel, which is the fictional...
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PRAISE FOR

"A startling debut.... By turns fairy tale, romance, coming of age and historical first novel, Memoirs of a Geisha is an astounding magic act." -Ottawa Citizen

"A fascinating, poignant and entirely believable tale, as delicate, intricate and beautiful as the silk kimonos so central to the story.... Captivating ... lush [and] lyrical.... This is a luxurious book, every page fat with evocative, beautiful words.... If life is a simple stream, Memoirs of a Geisha is a shimmering pebble that makes the water dance." -The Toronto Sun

"A startling act of literary impersonation, a feat of cross-cultural masquerade on the order of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day.... Golden's description of a kept woman's fleshly epiphanies has the purity of Colette." -Vogue

"Cause for celebration.... Rarely has a world so closed and foreign been evoked with such natural assurance.... In the unforgettable Sayuri, Golden has found the heart and matter of a truth that lies beyond detail." -The New Yorker

"A truly engrossing story. The reader suffers, triumphs, dreams and doubts with the heroine, all the way through.... Beautifully written." -Sunday Express

"Exceptional....This is one of those rare novels that evokes a vanished world with absolute conviction." -Daily Mail