Nine year old Chiyo and her older sister are taken from their home and sold to an Okiya in the Gion district of Tokyo while their mother is ill and their father realizes he can't take care of them. Well, Chiyo is sold to the house, her sister is taken across town to become a mere prostitute. Because whatever you may have heard, geisha are not simply prostitutes, although Chiyo (later known as Sayori) does confide that sometimes that is part of the job. No, geisha are entertainers. Trained from a young age in music, dance, tea ceremonies, and lavished in beautiful kimonos and face paints, these women are hired by men to brighten up a party, serve drinks, offer amusement, lend to the conversations. They are escorts in the classiest sense of the term. But that doesn't mean they have great lives.
As Sayori struggles through hardships, she tells her story as honestly as possible. Through loosing her sister and parents, trying to run away, nearly ruining her chances at becoming anything more than a made, discovered that she needed to be a geisha more than anything, and pushing her way through the process of becoming a successful geisha, all in a time of war, Sayori tells it all.
So, while I enjoyed this book, it took some getting into. While Chiyo/Sayori has plenty of things happen to her, most of it is rather boring before she becomes a geisha. It's a real Cinderella story, let me say. And there were plenty of times I wish I could just tell the young girl to suck it up. After she finally puts on the robes of a geisha and makes her debut I want to tell her to suck it up and be happy with what she gets. Because she sure gets a hell of a better deal than a lot of the other girls in the district, but she is always wanting more. See Sayori has her eye on one man. One perfect prince of a man that she devotes everything in her power to try to get his attention. I get that she likes him, has some sort of savior complex for him because he was nice to her when she was a sad child. But to overlook the kindness of one man who gives everything to make sure she is taken care of and happy, just because he isn't the one she has her eye on. It made me very upset with Sayori through the later half of the book.
I am sorry to say I wasn't thrilled with the book like I wanted to be. And unfortunately I can't tell you if I liked the movie better because I haven't seen it in some years and barely remember it. Hopefully soon I will get a chance to rewatch it and can give a comparison for you, but until then I am just going to say that this one just wasn't my cup of tea. Have you read it? Did you like it? Let me know!
So I finally got a chance to rewatch the movie. There were very few differences between the two, but somehow those subtle differences made the movie a little less grand than the book, I think. They tried so hard to stay true to the story, making the movie into a brutal 2 and 1/2 hour affair, that I almost feel bad for saying it, but I really did like the book so much more.
But that's just my opinion. What do you think?