This is a seductive and stunningly evocative epic on an intimate scale, which tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold into a kind of slavery, as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. Transformed by one man's act of kindness, she fights her way through hardship and jealousies to become successful as Sayuri the geisha girl. Then war breaks out and she has to escape and transform herself once again. She tells her own story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; and what is so utterly extraordinary about this novel is the way it exquisitely and unforgettably evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the cruelty and the heartbreak, the perfection and the ugliness of life behind the rice-paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of the geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono and those elaborate hairstyles, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.
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