RoadTrip America

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Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden and Elaina Erika Davis (Narrator)

Memoirs of a Geisha
To say that things are not always what they seem is a huge understatement when it comes to Memoirs of a Geisha. This beautifully and sensitively told tale of a young girl's journey from poor fisherman's daughter to famous geisha is not really a memoir, but a novel. And it's not written by a Japanese woman, but by an American man. Even knowing that before listening to the book, it's hard to believe that the author is anyone other than someone who has experienced the training and the rituals involved with being a geisha.

Sayuri was known as Chiyo as a young girl, and as Chiyo she learned the art of the geisha, how to be a most beautiful, feminine, clever woman and how to flatter and please any man she met. Like any butterfly, her metamorphosis was full of almost insurmountable struggles, but the end result was a vibrant, lovely creature whose story exposes the secret world of the geisha and the men who enjoy their companionship.

Arthur Golden has created in Sayuri an appealing character who never loses her hope of finding romance, even though her geisha training teaches her that romance is not something she should expect in life. She speaks in a charming descriptive voice full of similes and metaphors that serve to suggest the cleverness, but yet the innocence of this memorable character.

Elaina Erika Davis' interpetation of Sayuri and the other characters is lyrical at times and crisp and didactic at others. Her portrayal of Sayuri is so effective that Sayuri's voice lingers in the listener's mind like the haunting aftertaste of a particularly delicious meal.

I recommend this book for the beauty of the language, for the informative view of geisha life, and for the warm, heartfelt story of a girl's untiring efforts to achieve a dream. It's ironic that this delicate creature is such a strong character that she can impose a feeling of peace on a listener in the middle of the madness of freeway traffic.

Ruth Mormon

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