I got tricked into thinking this actually was Chiyo's biography. I read the preface by the imaginary professor matter of factly, not giving much thought to it. Of course the idea of reading an autobiography sparked my excitement. I liked the prose, the part of the book in which Chiyo was not yet abducted stood out and "felt" Japanese. What quickly brought me back on the right track again, was the formulaic style. Chiyo's life consisted of a little too many Cinderella ingredients to not make me doubt her existence. Such as her brief encounter as a child with the Chairman and the way this affected the rest of her life. Although very romantic indeed, this seemed highly unlikeable. Then there was Hatsumoto's limitless - evil stepmother! - hate for what was in the beginning hardly more than a poor little girl from the countryside.
It was the ending though, which bothered me most. Golden got either bored or felt his publisher breathing in his neck and tried to wrap up the story quickly. It showed. The final pages were hardly worth reading.
Also, this book would've been so much more intense if Golden had avoided that sugary Hollywood ending.
But then...despite its flaws this was one of those 'hard to put away' books. Geisha's in general are a intriguing - and dying - subgroup of Japanese culture, so it was interesting to read about their world: their habits, ceremonies and make up rituals. Golden offers detailed descriptions. However I cannot comment on the veracity of his research.