Friday, April 23, 2010
Memoirs of a Geisha
I just finished this book. It has been on my shelf for probably 10 years (since it was a BIG best-seller that one year). I just never got around to reading it. So I read it in the last month. Halfway through it got soaked in a leaking bottle of sunscreen so it had crunchy pages. It swelled to double the size and really looks like it's been through a war zone.
As for the story, it was ... OK. It started out really good - I loved the detailed Japanese history, the landscape, the characters, and the setting up of a young girls early tragedies. But, as she got older, well, it felt too predictable, too romanticised and ultimately, unbelievable. This is a habit of a lot of English people - we just can't watch movies or read books if they're based on fantasy, or they're too glorified, or too 'over the top'. We are turned off the minute we read the part that has us thinking "THAT would never happen in real life". And that's what happened with this book for me. It got a little ... sappy & obvious. If you know what I mean by all that.
I finished it though. I had invested enough in this character to see where she ended up. But I had lost real feeling for her story. Shame, because I got a lot out of the great picture of Japanese life that was portrayed. I loved the descriptive passages on exactly how a geisha dresses, and trains for her role at school, and how life in her okiya was. I could picture Gion at this time. But an important level of emotion, for me, was just not quite there.