Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Seriously, though, one of the fascinating things about reading this book was its blending of West and East. Author Arthur Golden has clearly done his homework here and he does an excellent job of transporting us to the world of mid-20th-century Japan. On the other hand, the Cinderella angle gets kind of obvious sometimes. Read it and see if you can identify Cinderella, the stepsister, the stepmother, the godmother, Prince Charming, and the shoe.
This book is beautiful, just beautiful. It’s so beautiful that this trumps everything that I find disturbing about the book. The language is so powerful that you see this other world and culture in vivid colors. You feel for Chiyo and her struggles even though she’s this heroine whose sole ambition in life is to become a particular man’s mistress. The ending packs a punch and was not at all what I expected.
The story’s written in the form of a memoir, so one gets the funny feeling that Chiyo might not be telling us the whole truth. This unreliable narrator presents herself as such a perfect little damsel in distress. What really happened here? Were Hatsumomo and Mother really as evil as they were made out to be? What was the deal with Pumpkin?
But seriously, just read it for the metaphors.