"Memoirs of a Geisha" is a book written by Arthur Golden. The plot takes place in Japan and tells us the story of a young girl; a fisherman’s daughter and her journey through life to become a famous Geisha, a Japanese female entertainer. The book describes the struggles of a young girl, Chiyo, who is abandoned; sold by her father. The story is told in flashback format with reference to the protagonist's present and past. The focal point of the story is constantly on the internal narrator, Chiyo, who later changes her name to Sayuri when she becomes a geisha. Sayuri, who is our protagonist, is eight years old and lives in the small fishing village of Yorido at the beginning of the story. She lived happily with her family until one day her mother becomes sick. Her father who is a fisherman can't afford the medical treatment of her mother. Seeing no other way out, he sells Sayuri and her clumsy older sister Satsu to Mr. Tanaka; the owner of the seafood company which all the villagers work for. Mr. Tanaka brings the girls to the cultural city of Gion. Satsu who is the less beautiful of the two is sold to a brothel while Sayuri is sold to the Nitta Okiya, a geisha house. At the Nitta Okiya she meets a number of different people. There is the owner of the Okiya who is referred to as "Mother", a bull-dog looking woman, whose main concern is money as described by Sayuri. The main "Villain" of the story is Hatsumomo , a famous and successful geisha who lives in the same Okiya as Sayuri. Hatsumomo is the main resource of the Nitta Okiya since all the money she earns goes to support it. From the day Sayuri arrives at the Okiya, Hatsumomo dislikes her, she tries to make Sayuri's life as hard as possible. At first it is hard to understand why she has that kind of behaviour towards Sayuri but as the story continues we understand that it is all about jealousy. Hatsumomo can't stand that Sayuri is beautiful and sees that in a few years she might become a successful geisha unless she gets rid of her. Hatsumomo clearly states that she hates Sayuri and doesn't want her in the Okiya: "I shall destroy you" (pg. 78)1 Sayuri comes to the Okiya with a debt which she has to pay off. The debt just keeps getting bigger because she has to take geisha 'lessons. Sayuri is taken out from geisha practice,e after several accidents, and made a slave at the Okiya. She has no hopes for her future when Mameha, a character who becomes very important to the story, comes to convince Mother to let Sayuri continue her geisha practice. She helps Sayuri throughout her career by introducing her to many famous and rich people who can invite her to their parties and by taking her to all important places where the big parties are held. Mameha gives her personal lessons and gives her all help she can and if it weren't for Mameha, Sayuri would never have become a geisha. Throughout the story we see how Sayuri's character changes drastically, from a simple and a naive country girl to a slave with no future to a graceful famous geisha and when the story turns again, a seamstress trying to survive the second World War. Although the story mostly concentrates on Sayuri and we get to know the secrets of a geisha's life, there's a lot more that can be learnt from the story. It tells us about the life in Japan before, during and after the Second World War. The story which is set in Japan wouldn't have existed if we were to set it elsewhere. Geishas are something unique to only Japan and can't be found in any other culture around the world. It tells us about the time before the war when everything was good. Sayuri mentions the war a couple of times, in the beginning but she talks about it as if it were something that was far off and didn't concern her. Then slowly she starts realising that the war is affecting them more and more when they start using ration books. Still, the reality of the war isn't realised fully by either Sayuri or the reader until it hits you in the face when suddenly the heads of different Okiyas are selling fancy kimonos and jewels at the black market for their survival. The book mentions real-life incidents such as the bombing of Tokyo and other big cities. It tells us about the problems that the people of Japan were faced with and how even graceful geishas are forced to become normal seamstresses, making parachutes for the war. The theme of the book in my opinion is first of all, the life of a geisha since it tells us about how geishas lived and what they had to go through. Arthur Golden takes us into an unknown world and reveals the secrets of what seems to us a glamorous life. The book shows that the life of a geisha is far from glamorous. Both in sense of the social problems they have to face such as jealousy from other geisha and the struggle to make a good reputation for themselves in order to survive and also personal problems such as those older geishas, whose skin has rotted and become yellow because of the paints they used, had to face. Another theme of the book may also be; destiny. Sayuri's destiny was to become a geisha no matter what came in her way, no matter how impossible it seemed at times, she finally succeeded in becoming a geisha and not just that, she even became a very successful and famous geisha of her time. When the book starts and we see the village of Yoroido through the eyes of a young innocent girl, you wonder 'what does this little girl living in a small fishing village have to do with a graceful and glamorous geisha? It's almost as you wonder whether the title of the book is wrong. As the story develops, we see how Sayuri ends up in the cultural city of Gion, but then suddenly when the story turns again and Sayuri is made a servant at the Okiya you start wondering if the story will instead start focusing on Hatsumomo. The book is very slow and boring in the beginning, several times I thought of just putting it down but just then the story takes a new turn. It really tells about a life I knew nothing about before and got really interesting the further I got into the book. The author has tied in historical events into an interesting story reflecting not only the lives of geishas but also the lives of ordinary people of that time. I found the book very interesting and different but a bit slow. Since it is semi-reality based I would recommend it to people both my age but also older people. The story catches your interest whether you are young or old. I would give the book 3 out of 5 points.