Rated of 5
Arthur Golden's novel is a remarkable achievement, reading like an actual memoir, and thoroughly researched!
Many people think a geisha is just someone who is a professional dancer or entertainer, they don't realize these girls were actually slave-cum-prostitutes. But perhaps the best proof of Mr. Golden's talent is "her" (the book is told in the first person) "explanation" of the supposed difference between a geisha and a prostitute, and Kyoto geisha's almost snobby self-elevation above geisha from the rest of Japan. Even early on, the young girl does not see herself and other geisha as prostitutes, even though their virginity is auctioned off at 13, and though after 18 they are allowed to service their customers in exchange for money or goods and services...although a high-class geisha is supposed to "save herself" for a wealthy, and hopefully powerful "danna" (regular and exclusive customer). I think Arthur's realistic portrayal of what a "good life" would be in the eyes of such an unfortunate young girl makes the entire story far more realistic and powerful. The novel brought tears to my eyes on several occasions!