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Memoirs of a Geisha

Written by: Arthur Golden
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Length: 17 hrs and 54 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nitta Sayuri tells us in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate of her life as a geisha. Her story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion.

It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable.

©1997 Arthur Golden; Copyright ©1998 by Random House, Inc.

What the critics say

"Astonishing...Breathtaking...You are seduced completely." (Washington Post Book World)
"...a bravura performance, a first novel that provides a vivid view into a largely lost and secret world." (The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Over rated

Over all I found it quite dull considering all the positive reviews and praise that I’ve heard. I found the main character Sayuri, her personality and the way she spoke quite irritating and fake.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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exceptional

what a wonderful story. i could not stop listening. she found her happiness at last.

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Great book!

Beautifully written and performed! I'm still thinking of the key characters even days after finishing the book.

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Powerful

Great audiobook, very touching, as a man, I surprised myself by how much I ended up involved in the story of this girl. The voice of the reader might be a break for some, but I must say that you do get use to it and that I couldn’t imagine the whole experience without her performance, she did an outstanding job.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing, couldn't stop listening

There's so much more here than in the movie. So much more history and character motivation, and it answers not questions about what happened to her afterwards. I truly enjoyed this. Other reviews said the narrator was monotone and hard to follow, and I do not agree at all. I will definitely listen to this again.

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An incredible story, narrator not ideal.

Memoirs of a Geisha was a mesmerizing read, with stories rich in description and an authors voice that was both unique and telling. Unfortunately, the narrator chosen for this audiobook was monotone - basically more robotic than fluid. It was difficult to remain interested when the novel itself was captivating. #Audible1

I was able to finish the audiobook, but unfortunately I was disappointed in the overall performance.

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Great Journey

It was a great way to explore incredible Japan and the the world of Geishas. The performance was great too. I would recommend to anyone who loves interestding stories or are obsessed with Japanese culture.

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Highly recommended

A beautiful tale that captures you. I couldn’t stop listening. And excellently read. Thank you for the experience.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • Evanston, IL, USA
  • 2006-02-08

Perfect ---- in every way

As a fluent (second-language) speaker of Japanese, I was shocked to read that many found the narrator's pronunciation "incorrect". Ms. Dunne has narrated various accents, from a young Japanese girl to a middle-aged Jewish woman (Garlic & Sapphires...), and did a fantastic job with them all. Her pronunciation of the English language was done with the inflection of a native Japanese speaker. Please consider the artistry of speech when listening to an Audiobook. "Not taking the time to learn the correct pronunciation" may not at all be the case.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • Bethlehem, PA, USA
  • 2003-02-01

Excellent

This is on my top 10 list of books I'd take to a desert island, no, top 5 list. I was mesmerized by the haunting beauty of the writing. Especially as it is not the kind of book I would normally have chosen. I have recommended it to all fo my friends.

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stephanie
  • Cayce, SC, USA
  • 2002-12-14

Best Book in a while

This book was the most intriguing, fascinating book I have read in many years. I simply couldn't stop listening to it and I have recommended it to many of my friends. One of my friends even got a copy of the book for Christmas. No matter what type of story you like, I recommend you read or listen to this book!

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alene
  • Montgomery, TX, USA
  • 2002-12-12

Memoirs gave me much to think about!

I did not expect this to be such a compelling, intriguing book. I had no idea I would yearn to hear more and more. At it's end, I am sad it's over but feel Sayuri has left me with many good things. I will listen to this again.

I definitely recommend this book.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • M.
  • 2005-12-01

Outstanding!

An absolutely fantastic journey into a world of heritage, culture, self-discovery, passion, emotion.....well, need I say more! Bernadette Dunne is an excellent narrator, who catapults you alongside each step of Sayuri' life. The author, Mr. Golden, is a masterful, vivid writer. Immediately, upon listening to the first couple of minutes, I was transported into each segment of the story.

I am a Premium subscriber with hundreds of logged listening hours of fine books. This is the first time that I was moved enough by a great book to take the time to tell the world what a fine work of art Mr. Golden has given us. I can't wait to see the movie!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • North Hollywood, CA, USA
  • 2003-12-26

A great book, although not a true story

I've been doing some research and, apparently, the story is fictional and not true as so many people believed, including myself. The story written by Arthur Golden was collaborated upon by Mineko Iwasaki, a real geisha who is still living today. If you are interested in her autobiography, she has written a book entitled "Geisha : A Life". I feel a bit silly now for having believed these people were real and I feel a bit disappointed that they weren't. I suppose, in a way, they were real because they represent a historical period and a way of life that really existed. In any case, the story is a wonderful one and I still very highly recommend it to everybody.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zachary Brannock
  • 2004-05-30

In Defense of the Narrator

This is the best novel I have ever listened to. As a guy who spends at least 3 hours a day commuting to and from work, I have listen to a lot of audio books. I want to come to the defense of the narrator, who has been disparaged by several reviewers. She is perfect in every way. Her voice is beautiful and exotic. And she plays the part exactly as I envision Sayuri would speak if she were telling her story - elegantly, but with a matter-of-fact cadence and a detachment required for her sanity and dignity. Of course, you are free to question the wisdom of a guy who spends at least 3 hours a day commuting to and from work.

42 of 46 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • 2012-06-21

I waited too long

I was afraid this book would contain graphic sex and I was hesitant to purchase it... waited way too long. Of course the story can't be told without sexual relationships, however, they are so beautifully and simply told that I couldn't find it offensive. Adult reading for sure...but not vulgar. Such a beautiful story, I came away not wanting to read anything else for a while and keep this one in my thoughts.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher
  • Shrewsbury, NJ, USA
  • 2003-10-22

Amazing!

I loved this book! I am a very "picky" reader and this book has it all - a great story, beautiful writing, engaging characters, excellent pacing and suspense, moments that will touch your heart, everything! I especially enjoyed the metaphors used by the author throughout the story and watching her learn and philosophize about life as it takes each turn for her. I also gained amazing insights into Japanese culture and human nature. This is a must read, a masterpiece, a manual for living all in one. I now enjoy the wisdom from having lived two lives: mine and one of a Geisha's

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • B. Frank
  • California, USA
  • 2008-11-23

BEAUTY AT ITS BEST!!!!

This book effectively brings to mind the vivid beauty of the Asian world. The images that the author describes are palpable. I saw the movie about a year or two prior to listening to this audio book. It definitely pales in comparison. Although the movie does a pretty good job of highlighting some of the main events, it does not do what the book is capable of, sharing with Western world the true life of the Geisha.

I now have a solid, elementary, understanding of the Geisha. No longer does my mind immediately shoot to the image of a high classed prostitute, or call girl, when I think of the Geisha. The author does a wonderful job of fully explaining everything, while maintaining the compelling aspects of the story.

Very riveting, exciting, sad, and beautiful, the life of a Geisha is a must read. I wholly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates beauty. The irony of the story is its paradoxical play on the complexities of manmade beauty. The Geisha must at all times be perfect while her life and love are sacrificed in an effort to give men, who choose her, absolute psychological, and sometimes physical, pleasure.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • ML GAELLE
  • 2007-08-25

On ne peut qu'arrêter après le mot de la fin

Très belle histoire et si bien lue que l'on se laisse entraîner sans résister. J'ai trouvé la narratrice incroyable ! On ne voit pas le temps passer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • bal-yama
  • 2006-05-10

Lovely story - some technical defaults

The story is lovely and very well read. I spent hours to listen to it and was never bored.

My only concern is that the separations on the ipod do not match the chapters. It is difficult sometimes to find where we stopped.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dana
  • 2010-12-15

Loved It

It is difficult to imagine life in Japan just before the second world war.
We follow the haroine through her ups and downs as she struggles for
happiness.
Her sheer will to continue to struggle and strive forward makes the
ending all the more dramatic. (I don't want to tell you what happens!)
I absoulutely loved it!