Monday, December 05, 2005

December 2005 Pick: Memoirs of a Geisha

Hello all!

Thank you to everyone who came and chatted with Anita Shreve last week. We’ve learned a great deal from the best-selling authors we’ve chatted with about their processes and lives as successful writers. Shreve is an author whose books certainly speak to the heart of women’s experiences and as that is a caveat for our book club; we find our next selection to fall right in step with that. This is the first selection that we’ve chosen that is written by a man but it’s such a moving and powerful story about women, choices and their environment that it could not be missed.

Our selection for December is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. The book came out in 1999 but quickly became a bestselling novel with its stirring poise and power. The film adaptation comes in December and is already stirring up Oscar buzz.

Through the story we enter a world very different than the one we know now. It’s a place where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to entrance powerful men; and where love is scorned. Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Through her eyes, we enter the geisha district of Kyoto and its teahouses and theaters, narrow back alleys, ornate temples, and artists' streets. Sayuri becomes transformed as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup and hair. But she soon learns that many of the women viciously compete for the attentions and money of the men that visit the geisha houses. But as World War II breaks out their worlds are changed forever. Sayuri, with little money and even less food, is forced to reinvent herself all over again. Her story ends at the world renown Waldorf Astoria but her transformation from a captured soul to women of her own is incredibly memorable and heart breaking.

Join us on Monday, December 12th at 7PM at Joseph-Beth to discuss this remarkable work. To RSVP for this event click on to

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