“Now I understood the thing I’ve overlooked; the point wasn’t to become a geisha, but to be one. To become a geisha… well, that was hardly a purpose in life. But to be a geisha… I could see it now as a stepping-stone to something else.”
I have finished Memoirs which is a milestone for me, because it means that I am officially 1/4 of the way through The List. This book took me a while to get through mostly because of all the details in the beginning of the novel about becoming a geisha and geisha practices. I will say that I do know more now about the ways of the geisha and I think that all of the details, no matter how small, were needed to show the painstaking lives that those women went through.
This book also makes it quite clear that geisha are not what they are commonly seen as, prostitutes. A geisha is there to entertain and flirt with the gentlemen and that is all, anything more could taint her reputation and ruin her career. A geisha also can not fall in love. Well they can fall in love but they can not act on their emotions or they will be ruined for the rest of their time as a geisha. This is where Sayuri runs into problems. She starts to have feelings for a man known as the Chairman who is the business partner of the man that wants to become her danna. A danna, for lack of a better description, is like a “sugar daddy” he is usually married to someone else but makes sure the geisha has everything they need. Food, clothing, a place to live.
Towards the end of the novel Sayuri is about to do something that will change and ruin her life and prospects as a geisha forever, because she would rather do this than spend another moment without the Chairman in her life. I understand that “you can’t choose who you love” and “when you find that person you will do anything for them”, but the problem I had with is is that the Chairman doesn’t show a whole lot of interest toward her, in that way. So, for her to throw her best chances of comfort and happiness away on a man that may not even return her feelings is quite ballsy.
All in all I did enjoy this book and like any great book that has made it on The List thus far; it has a twist of an ending that will keep you smiling. You also learn a few things about Japan and the Kyoto geisha way of life.