A wonderful and compelling insight into the life of a Japanese Geisha, spanning from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan. Chiyo grows up in a tiny fishing village and as a young child gets 'sold' into a city geisha house. There, she lives with the 'mother' of the house and the established geisha Hatsumomo who literally tortures Chiyo (out of jelousy, as we later learn), as Chiyo is rather beautiful and extraordinay looking, and Hatsumomo realises this very quickly. Almost condemned to being a servant and cleaner for the geisha house, Chiyo meets the sucessful geisha Mameha who takes her under her wing, she becomes Mameha's 'sister' and gets trained up by her as a geisha, and then takes the name of Sayuri. In order for a geisha to be sucessful, she would need a 'danna' which is like a kind of 'husband' who looks after her, only those men are often married already, so really, it is like a better mistress. Sayuri tells us her story, the good, the bad and sometimes the shocking (for our understanding), as she does start out really young, and her 'virginity' get sold to the highest bidder. I have since read that this is not entirely true of 'real geisha's' - who knows! And we do wonder throughout the book whether she is gonna get 'her man'.
It was a wonderful read, the first time I looked into the whole subject, and it made me really curious and it even made me look up info about Geisha's on the net!