Geisha of Gion: The True Story of Japan’s Foremost Geisha: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki

ISBN: 074343059X
ISBN 13: 9780743430593
By: Mineko Iwasaki Rande Brown

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GEISHA, A LIFE ""No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story. We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so, by the robes of tradition and by the sanctity of our exclusive calling...But I feel it is time to speak out.""Celebrated as the most successful geisha of her generation, Mineko Iwasaki was only five years old when she left her parents' home for the world of the geisha. For the next twenty-five years, she would live a life filled with extraordinary professional demands and rich rewards. She would learn the formal customs and language of the geisha, and study the ancient arts of Japanese dance and music. She would enchant kings and princes, captains of industry, and titans of the entertainment world, some of whom would become her dearest friends. Through great pride and determination, she would be hailed as one of the most prized geishas in Japan's history, and one of the last great practitioners of this now fading art form.In "Geisha, a Life," Mineko Iwasaki tells her story, from her warm early childhood, to her intense yet privileged upbringing in the Iwasaki okiya (household), to her years as a renowned geisha, and finally, to her decision at the age of twenty-nine to retire and marry, a move that would mirror the demise of geisha culture. Mineko brings to life the beauty and wonder of Gion Kobu, a place that "existed in a world apart, a special realm whose mission and identity depended on preserving the time-honored traditions of the past." She illustrates how it coexisted within post-World War II Japan at a time when the country was undergoing its radical transformation from apost-feudal society to a modern one."There is much mystery and misunderstanding about what it means to be a geisha. I hope this story will help explain what it is really like and also serve as a record of this unique component of Japan's cultural history," writes Mineko Iwasaki. "Geisha, a Life" is the first of its kind, as it delicately unfolds the fabric of a geisha's development. Told with great wisdom and sensitivity, it is a true story of beauty and heroism, and of a time and culture rarely revealed to the Western world.

Reader's Thoughts

Sara Murphy

I enjoyed this book of Geiko life immensely. The entire time I read this, I thought fondly of Liza Dalby's "Geisha", written about the same period. Mineko Iwasaki was honest about her personal feelings and personal trials. She also wrote with passion on her love of dance. While reading this book, I felt like I was walking beside her as she went to dance class and Ozashikis at night. Her hard work throughout her life inspired my respect for her and the Geisha tradition even more than ever before. I recommend this book for anyone interested in Japan, Geiko or Maiko. This book was entertaining all the way through and I would gladly read it once more just for fun.

Violet Crush

I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, both the movie and the book. So when I found out that the Geisha on whom the book was based on or rather inspired from, has written an autobiography. Apparently, Ms Mineko Iwasaki was very upset over the way Geisha’s were portrayed by Arthur Golden and that he breached an understanding that her name was not to be mentioned anywhere, but he did, in the book as well as in interviews. She also got death threats from people who thought she had defaced Japanese culture. So she decided to write a book of her own.Iwasaki’s parents were distraught when she decided to become a Geisha when she was just 5 years old. How a girl so young could make such a decision and how could the parents agree to it is something beyond me, even though she has tried to explain it. She goes to stay in an Okiya (a geisha house) and she is initiated into the trainings and numerous classes when she turns six.A woman who is training to become a Geisha has a very disciplined life. There is traditional dancing, singing, playing instruments and also studying. Would-be Geisha’s are allowed to study until Junior High, in fact it’s kind of a rule.Iwasaki excels in dancing and she is introduced as a maiko when she is 15 years old. After a few years of working as a maiko she becomes a geiko at age 21, which are the same names for a Geisha, just different hierarchies. She soon becomes one of the top geisha’s in Gion. In fact, today she almost has a legendary status.What surprised me most was how systematic and well organized the world of a Geisha is. There is a list of all the girls that are going to come out as maiko’s. There is a Kimono Dealers association. There is a very strict hierarchy which if broken can result in serious consequences. The earnings of all the geisha’s are reported to the Geisha Committee (I think that’s whats it is), so everyone knows who the highest earning geisha for a particular year is.The Geisha world itself is so complicated or may be I felt that way because I had not heard a lot about it. There is a rule of what kind of and what design a Kimono can have depending on seasons. Same goes for hairstyles and ornaments. It was exhausting just reading about it.It is very clear that Ms Iwasaki loved and respected what she did and she has tried to dispel all the myth’s regarding geisha’s. She often sounds a bit egoistic and someone that could do no wrong. But we also need to understand the world she lived in, a world when no one, including one’s sister cannot be trusted. She lived by the motto: The Samurai betrays no weakness, even when starving. Pride above all. I can understand how easily pride can be mistaken for ego in the geisha world.There are lots of minute details on a lot of things like the music school, the dance school, the different kinds of geisha’s, the customs and traditions. There are also descriptions on Kimono designs, hair ornaments and the kind. For e.g take this:My Kimono was made out of figured satin in variegated turquoise. The heavy hem of the train was dyed in shades of burnt orange, against which floated a drift of pine needles, maple leaves, cherry blossoms and chrysanthemum petals. My obi was made of black damask decorated with swallowtail butterflies. I wore a matching obi clasp of a swallowtail butterfly fashioned out of silver.There are many passages like these which some people may find dry and boring. But I loved them, it helped me immerse myself in the book more. In fact 2 days after finishing this book I struggled with picking up another that was as engrossing as this one.If I have to compare this book with Memoirs of a Geisha, I would say both are very different from each other. In Memoirs of a Geisha, we get a young, naive and endearing Sayuri, where as here we get a strong willed, dedicated Mineko. Arthur Golden seems to have picked the main storyline from one of the minor characters and mixed it with Iwasaki’s story to make it more dramatic. If you are looking for a “Memoirs of a Geisha” kind of book, you will be disappointed. But both are brilliant in their own way, one as page turning fiction and one as a real look into the Japanese culture. The simple fact that Geisha, A Life is a true story gives it a different feel altogether.


Mineko Iwasaki was Arthur Golden's primary source for his novel Memoirs of a Geisha. Under acknowledgments in the back of his book he says, "I am indebted to one person above all others," meaning Mineko Iwasaki. You might've heard about the lawsuit between the author and former geiko (geisha), mainly for exposing her identity. And Mineko says that Golden's depiction of the life of a geisha is inaccurate.There are two things she says in her book that are worth mentioning: #1 that she has a lot of pride, and #2 that she thought of writing about her life as a geiko before Golden's novel was published. Take them as you want.Anyways, I read Memoirs of a Geisha a few weeks before Geisha: A Life, and actually liked this book better. It doesn't go drawling on and on like Memoirs (no offence, but it does), it's more personal and explains things a lot better.

Christina Parker

The most amazing autobiography I have ever read. Her memory goes so far back that I question some of the validity behind some of her story... but hey, some people can remember what decisions they made when they were five if it changed the entire course of their life. It was something of a shocker to read about how 'normal' her life was, seeing as she was closer to our time than mentioned in the "Memoirs of a Geisha" book that was loosely based off of her life. It was nothing like how she lived it. For one, Memoirs takes place years before Mineko's birth, during world war II and she was born about four years after the bombing in Hiroshima. Her stories of people she encountered throughout her life were both funny and sad, and to go with her through these ups and downs was a wonderful journey. Her life was so interesting, and she was so influential to the Geiko society that a relaxing normal life is well deserved. I hope she is happy where she is now and if I ever met her my heart would melt! I would love to hear the stories straight from her. Such an amazing, strong-willed woman. If you enjoyed Memoirs, please, please, please pick this up and read about how Geisha life really was like! You won't regret it and you'll put the book down with a great sense of happiness and closure.


Geisha of Gion is the story of one of the geishas that Arthur Golden based his book Memoirs of a Geisha on. I always enjoyed reading Memoirs of a Geisha, though I know it's not accurate and even perhaps exploitative -- it's certainly felt to be so by some people, in any case -- and I did want to read Mineko Iwasaki's words herself. A lot of people seem to have found that her tone was very grating: her self-assurance, her blithe assumption that the world would cater to her and she would never be wrong. I felt that too, but I wonder how much of it is due to the different cultural backgrounds most readers have to her.It's a fast read, and quite focused on the material aspects of living as a geisha: how much it cost, what the kimono were like, how they wore their hair... There are glimpses of an emotional life, but I could have done with knowing Mineko better, and knowing the price of the clothes she wore a little less. It's still an interesting glimpse into another view on the world of geishas -- though I hesitate to say the 'real' world, as this is just one view of it, from a woman of considerable pride and self-assurance.


This book, like most non-fiction, had a bit of a slow reading pace. There were a few events that truly drew me into Mineko's story, though my review is going to be mostly about about the comparison of this book to Memoirs of a Geisha.It's kind of upsetting to me to see so many people say they changed their view of the fiction novel because of this book. Memoirs of a Geisha is a work of fiction- not everything is portrays will be straight on. The biggest confusion present is the use of mizuage-- instead of being about income, in Memoirs it follows the form of mizuage which is used for the high-end prostitutes and courtesans, where they are ceremoniously deflowered by the highest bidder as explained by Mineko. I personally believe this to have been a stylistic choice of the author. Fiction is meant to entertain-- and that was a choice the author made, still based somewhat fact, as it is a true use of mizuage, even if it is not that of Geisha. I can forgive this. It is a work of fiction- fiction does not have display full truths. That is why it is fiction. It's not fact.I personally think this is a good that people should read after reading Memoirs, but that they should also retain their love for the fiction book because it was written to entertain. Mineko's book was written to inform, and the two can coexist. I personally hold a respect for both.

Regina Lindsey

Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki4 StarsIn 1999, Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha was a runaway best-selling novel, which was followed up by a blockbuster movie based on the novel. For his book Golden interviewed Mineko, who is the first Geisha in 300 years to go public with her story. Beginning her training at an okiya in Gion, the Geisha District of Kyoto, at the age of five Mineko was adopted by the okiya’s owner and handpicked as the eventual successor. Eventually becoming the number one geisha of the District, Mineko was earning $500,000 in 1960 and entertained high profile people like Prince Charles, President Ford, and Henry Kissenger. She has really great insights into these men that rang true and a very funny story about Prince Charles’ faux pas during his banquet. While she was initially drawn to the career because of her love of dance, the grueling schedule, the constraints of Gion, the politics, and the female rivalries became too much to bear. For a time her health even began to suffer. She made the unusual decision to leave the life and settle down in marriage: “….there was no way I could stay in the system and do what I wanted to do. The whole reason why the organization of Gion Kobu had been systematized in the first place was to ensure the dignity and financial independence of the women who worked there. Yet the strictures of the Inoue School kept us subservient to its authority” (pg 239)Don’t read this book simply because you have a special affinity for Golden’s work. You will be sorely disappointed. She does a good job of shattering some of the myths perpetrated in the book (and does so with an acidic tongue). This is, however, a very detailed look at the history of Geisha’s and the minute details of their training as well as their daily lives. Mineko is a good person to tell that story, as she seems to have a good memory with attention to detail. Add this to the mystique of these women and it is a fascinating account especially for anyone with a more than a passing interest in Japanese culture. There is some fair criticism out there about Mineko’s domineering personality that comes across on the pages, but I don’t think this is unusual for someone who has completely dedicated his/her life to a single endeavor.


Before reading the book, "Geisha, a Life", I was not familiar with the art of Geisha and what it truly encompassed. I was hoping that Mineko Iwaskai's tale would teach me about this cultural tradition, and also convey an entertaining, emotional and thought provoking story through the first person narrative of her story.I was vastly disappointed. While she does explain the demands of her training and professional schedule throughout the book, there is really little insight into the lifestyle. There are many detailed accounts of each kimono and fashions worn, and even some long trailing historical references but the heart of what it means to be a Geisha was never really explained - at least not in any real life or emotional context. The answer supplied was merely that a Geisha's main duty is to make their clients feel important and happy. I'm also not entirely sure of the authenticity of the story. I am sure that most of what she tells us about her training and professional career may be true, but I find it hard to believe the great detail that she shares when recalling stories from events that happened to her from age 3 - 5. I don't know of many people that can remember that age frame even vaguely, let alone in the amount of detail she tells.The book held more of a high school research report feel to it, than a heartfelt recounting of one's own life. Perhaps this is due to the cultural taboo, and the unwritten rules of the karyukai that have prevented these artists and dancers from telling their stories in the past. Perhaps Iwasaki felt compelled to tell her story, but still maintain some sense of mystery/secrecy to the full tradition. I can't say for sure, but I do know that this book did little to expand my knowledge of the Geisha, and provided even less of a captivating story on an entertainment level.

Anna Kalyta

The first book I ever read about Geisha, as with most people, was Memoirs of a Geisha. Going through the Wikipedia page for it, however, showed up a lot of criticism, especially for inaccuracy about the Geisha lifestyle, and especially from Mineko Iwasaki, the prominent Gion-Kobu Geiko that Golden had interviewed for research purposes for the novel. Without her permission, he spun Memoirs as a biographical account of her life, though told fictionally, which caused a lot of controversy, especially for Iwasaki, in terms of her giving information to outsiders, something unheard of in the Geisha community. The Wikipedia page trawl then led, as it often does, to somewhere entirely different; Mineko Iwasaki, of course. Through that, I saw that she had written her own memoirs, and I became keen to read them. I read this book a long time ago, however, this recent re-read was much more attentive, and I nourished my reading with other research, giving the whole experience much more substance. As a translated book, the writing style is very simple, through no fault of either Iwasaki, or her translator, Rande Brown. Japanese is an inherently difficult language to translate into English, with much lost in translation. However, despite the simple writing style, I found this a very gripping read. The simplicity lends itself to an ease of reading, which enables the reader to look at other information along side to supplement the read. Obviously, the real account of Iwasaki's life is much less sensationalised, as often is with real life, and embellished fiction. Gone are the silly little additions, such as her blue eyes, or her love for a important gentleman of society. Gone is her rivalry with another Geiko; instead, a much more honest rendition of her troubled relationship with her own biological sister is told through her own eyes. Details are in abundance, from the Okiya's renamed dog, Big Tom, to the beautiful descriptions, if slightly overdone in places, of Iwasaki’s kimono. Iwasaki puts to rest, quite firmly, any misconceptions about Geiko being anything to do with prostitution, a belief held strongly in our Western world. She speaks of Geiko with both reverence, and sadness; her disapproval of their unchanging ways is tangible, and also the key factor which led her to retire at an extremely early age of twenty-nine. Despite the negatives Iwasaki teaches us, and the warnings she gives of the Geisha culture of Japan, he book charmed me, I must say. I have always been enamored by the Geisha culture of Japan, and Iwasaki’s account of her life brings colour, richness and depth to clinical, cold fact. Though not as dramatic, or emotive as Memoirs of a Geisha, I far prefer Geisha; A Life, purely for its honesty, and its happiness to merely tell the truth, without need for glamorization, or excitement.

Gerry O'Malley

Mineko Iwasaki’s autobiography GEISHA, A LIFE (GEISHA OF GION in the UK) doesn’t break any new ground in describing the unique and strange way of life of the “flower and willow world” that exists in the Gion area of Kyoto. Iwasaki provides some interesting detail about the daily life, training education and schedule of a geisha (more appropriately called geiko in Gion) and much of it has the authenticity of a first-person account. Iwasaki lived this life and her recollection seems bona fide. The only part that seems creatively written is the beginning – there is nothing as irritating as when an author claims to remember events and conversations from their youth. Iwaskai claims to remember specifics of her childhood from when she was younger than the age of three! The first several chapters seem wildly unlikely. The story picks up when, at the age of six, Iwasaki is adopted by the okiya and begins her intense training. Iwasaki loves to dance and is determined to accept nothing less than excellence in her performance. Iwasaki’s efforts to master the traditional arts of tea ceremony and dance and entertainment are admirable. Her descriptions of the kimono and other accoutrement required of the geisha are enlightening and demanding. The act of sliding open a door and entering a room has about 12 different and unique steps – screw up one step and the whole evolution is ruined. Iwasaki is determined to be perfect in a highly demanding and exact series of arts. The problem is that Mineko Iwaski doesn’t come across as a very likeable person. I didn’t feel any affection for this person whatsoever and her constant pronunciation of herself as “the best” and “most famous” and “Number 1” geisha in all of Kyoto gets very tiresome and seems contradictory to the humility that is supposed to characterize the Japanese personality and the geisha culture especially. Iwasaki doesn’t seem to have much insight as to how her actions controvert the principles of obedience and service that she espouses. This whole book is a violation of the geisha code of silence and discretion – Iwasaki tells very detailed anectdotes about celebrities including some very unflattering stories about members of the British royal family. Iwasaki is shocked and offended by the “rude” behavior of Queen Elzabeth at a dinner (she just sat there and didn’t eat anything, which is a terrible etiquette infraction according to Iwasaki). The geisha ends the chapter with the sentence “As far as I’m concerned, there is never an excuse for bad behavior”. The very next chapter is a description of her five-year affair with a married actor and her violent and destructive tantrum when she discovers that he was lying to her about divorcing his wife. Iwasaki doesn’t see her destruction of a fur coat and her lover’s family pictures as an example of her own bad behavior. Similarly, Iwasaki doesn’t see her abandonment of the okiya and her decision to destroy it and build an apartment building and open a nightclub as anything other than an expression of her independence. Her actions seem hypocritical and selfish. While reading GEISHA, A LIFEI was reminded of another very similar (fiction) book and movie, MEMIORS OF A GEISHA. Many of the anecdotes and details of life in Kyoto and Gion in particular seemed almost identical between the two stories. Apparently, Arthur Golden, the author of MEMIORS OF A GEISHA interviewed Iwasaki for research and appropriated many of the details of her life into his novel. Iwasaki was reportedly furious that Golden had exaggerated and actually misrepresented some of the elements of her story and sued him for breach of contract and defamation. Golden has listed Iwasaki as a reference for the book, when, according to Iwasaki, she had been promised anonymity. The revelations of geisha life in Golden’s book resulted in a backlash and death threats against Iwasaki. This autobiography is reportedly Iwasaki’s attempt to set the record straight, yet in my opinion, she comes across as churlish and calculating with no reluctance to expose the secrets and of her clients or other geisha.


Certainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I enjoyed, but this book definitely disproves a lot of the details about the life of a Geisha as depicted in that work of fiction.As for this book itself - it was rich in detail, which I appreciated. I did wonder at times how Mineko could remember things from the past in such detail however, especially from when she was still young. Sometimes I didn't really like her as a narrator either. She seems to have been raised as a princess, and sometimes I really got annoyed by this air of superiority. Maybe it's just a distorted image one gets because of the examples she used in the book, but there was often a case where she said that she'd gotten compliments about having done this or that particularly well.. which eventually got on my nerves. I understand that she's a legend in her field (and a bit of a workaholic) and probably earned the right to be proud of what she's achieved in life, but sometimes it made her seem condescending towards others. It wasn't always pleasant to read about.Overall though it's a very informative book, if you want to learn to look beyond the stereotypes of traditional Japanese culture and Geishas.

David Nicol

I really liked it for the peek inside the life of a meiko/geiko in post war Japan. Mineko herself as a child is what we in the West would call a precocious little brat, but is more of a misinterpretation of the class system.Two things that were negatives for me though were the fact that either Iwasaki or Brown had never seen a Shamisen and/or a Viola. The text states that a Shamisen is played like a Viola.... that I would like to see.The second thing was Mineko's assertion that she doesn't pass wind, or fart as we call it in these parts. Either it was to save face in front of her doctor, or she actually did believe that she hasn't farted in her whole life. The latter would explain why Toshio wouldn't leave his wife for her, he probably couldn't bear to spend the rest of his life with a woman who was perfect throughout the day, but would blow him across the futon at night with her trumpet bum.The whole story is pretty much a culture shock. But an enjoyable read if you have an interest in other cultures.


Li este livro e fiquei um pouco baralhada.Já li há muito tempo um outro titulo, que até foi produzido um filme baseado no mesmo, Memórias de uma Gueixa que gostei muito até.Ao ler este, confesso que fiquei cheia de dúvidas, é inevitável compará-los não em termos de escrita é claro, mas em termos de contexto histórico. Ambos são passados no mesmo sítio, cidade, e no mesmo tempo histórico, antes e depois da grande guerra.Este livro está melhor conseguido em termos técnicos e foca-se mais nos pormenores técnicos, práticas, conceitos, rituais... O outro relata-nos também alguns detalhes mas o tema central são os conflitos amorosos da personagem principal.Sei por exemplo que neste livro fiquei a saber o quanto ganha uma gueixa, quanto custa uma festa em que elas participam, o n.º de festas em que uma mulher participa por noite, além do custo "legal" de uma festa, há também as gratificações etc etc. no outro livro nunca o ficamos a saber.No inicio disse que fiquei baralhada porque há situações antagonistas do tipo, neste livro diz que uma gueixa pode se envolver amorosamente com quem entender, pode ser com o seu grande amor e que toda a comunidade pode o ficar a saber não tem de ser às escondidas, desde que esteja autorizada/abençoada pela Mãe ( que neste caso será a pessoa que a adoptou, ou seja, a dona da okiya em que trabalha). No outro livro não, até há um exemplo de uma das gueixas que se envolve com um homem (que de facto era o grande amor) e quando é descoberta e é expulsa.Fico sem saber se uma gueixa pode ou não se envolver amorosamente num contexto sincero é claro.Outro exemplo do outro livro. Diz-nos que quando se chega a altura de uma rapariga perder a virgindade, sendo esta (a virgindade) o bem mais precioso que uma mulher pode ter, é por isso negociado com todos os potencias clientes até se chegar à quantia mais elevada, sendo isso determinante para o estatuto que a gueixa passa a ter na comunidade. Aqui neste livro fala-se que tais práticas não acontecem na profissão de gueixa mas sim nas cortesãs da época, que muitas vezes acabam por se confundir por haver tantas semelhanças.Gostei do livro, fiquei a saber um pouco mais sobre a cultura mais tradicional japonesa, apesar de ter ficado baralhada, e tudo o que pensava que já sabia afinal fiquei a saber que nada sei (como dizia Sócrates). Também achei que o fim foi um pouco atabalhoado, tudo contado à pressa sobre pessoas que tinham até algum peso em toda a história, saltando muitos anos, mas também concordo que se calhar se nos fossem contar pormenores das mesmas, podia se tornar um fim aborrecido.


I did not like the 'other' book "Memoirs of a Geisha"; although it was interesting to learn about the geisha culture, I didn't like the sexual storylines involving children and very young women that the novel portrayed. Apparently the 'other' book was based on the life of THIS geisha (or geiko), but she was not too pleased with her portrayal either. So she wrote this one ("Geisha: A Life") to counteract the popular opinion portrayed that geishas were high-class prostitutes. If there was one thing she wanted us to learn, it was the falseness of that insinuation.I love to read about world cultures; I have had very little opportunity to travel and get to know the world, so reading is my best way to learn. I'll be honest, I am baffled by the seemingly opposite culture that Japan possesses (possessed?) compared to our own. I have long been aware of these differences, but to see them played out in the life of an individual was eye-opening. The ideal Japanese woman in her situation felt that her pride was more important than anything. That it was better to take all the blame than to lose peace. That the best way to gain the upper hand is to never ask people to treat you better. The group is more important than yourself, even when the group damages you.I guess I see what she's saying...but as with most cultural norms, it would only work in a society where all others are striving for the same. I can't even imagine being such a doormat here and having it turn out well for a woman. Of course, I have a lot to learn about grace and turning the other cheek--I'm not claiming she's completely incorrect. It was simply quite obvious the entire time I was reading, that my social values did not match hers. It made for some fascinating reading, though! Kind of like a train wreck that never actually happened despite me waiting for it. I do recommend the read...I just can't give it 4 stars because it's not in the category I'll probably ever read a second time.


This is one of the first autobiographies I've ever read, and it's made me want to read more. I'm not terribly into non-fiction: frankly, I find it boring, but maybe I'm just choosing the wrong books.I thoroughly enjoyed Geisha of Gion, partly because it read like a story, partly because of the glimpse it gave into the life of a Geiko of Gion Kobu (a subject I am personally fascinated with), and partly because it was true.It is difficult to say how much of the account is the unbiased truth, how much the narrow observations of a single, privileged individual, but one should remember this is, after all, a memoir.Mineko's candid recounting of her hectic and demanding life, from the age of five to her sudden retirement at twenty-nine, is an insightful glimpse into the cloistered 'Flower and Willow World': its requirement of excellence, its opulence, and tradition.The narrative itself flows, but it is also stilted: full of impulsive decisions, anecdotes both meaningful and trivial, sudden changes of topic, and unresolved endings. But that is essentially what makes it so charming: that what you are reading is an account of a real person's life, full of inconsistencies and human error. Full of small triumphs and sudden joys. Full of life, as it were. There was no author behind the unfolding of the tale, no grand design for the conclusion. Just a person who wanted to tell her story, as it was.

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