Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Books read in 2012: No. 79 -- Memoirs of a Geisha

by Arthur Golden

Started: Sept. 26
Finished: Oct. 3

Amazon link: Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel

Notes: Unfortunately, I am woefully ignorant of Asian cultures. I consider this unfortunate because I believe fantasy writers such as myself should be more aware of many different cultures. Such awareness can help to improve one's writing, especially in fantasy, allowing the author to come up with ideas fresh to his or her readers. To help with this, I decided to pick up this novel. I have seen the movie based upon this book, but to be honest I remember hardly anything about it other than it took place around the period of World War II. I have heard many good things about this novel, so hopefully it will be more memorable to me than was the movie.

Mini review: Quite the charming novel, though not in any kind of trite way. Told from the viewpoint of an older woman looking back on her childhood and younger days up to her early 30s, mainly from about 1930 to the mdi-1950s, this tale looks at the life of a peasant girl who becomes a geisha, and all the trials she faced during the time period, including how she managed to survive the horrors of World War II as they hit upon Japan. At its heart, this is ultimately a romance tale, but to say that belittles the overall story of survival, though I can't quite say it's a story of triumph. The ending is not necessarily tragic, but it has plenty of sad elements, what I think of as melancholy. This geisha gives up much and loses much in her quest for a certain someone, and honestly, I'm left wondering if it was really worth it. I also have to wonder if she doesn't feel the same, at least a little. For speculative writers who want ideas on different cultures, I have to say this is a pretty good book for studying such things. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the historic details here, but this book still gives a notion of different elements that make up some small parts of a culture and heritage far removed from that of the traditional Western tropes.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I believe you're right about fantasy writers needing to know a variety of cultures. I'm not nearly where I'd like to be in that way.