Tuesday, January 30, 2018

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.

South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?

Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.

About The Author

An American author of Korean descent living in London, Mary grew up in a large ex-pat community of women who came of age in postwar South Korea. In 2002, she visited her mother’s childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the “comfort women.” Her debut novel, White Chrysanthemum, will be published in January 2018 by Chatto & Windus Books and Putnam Books. She is represented by Rowan Lawton at Furniss Lawton Agency @ James Grant Group

My Review


The author lets us get up close and personal with two sisters, Hana and Emi, and when the story begins they live a good life in South Korea. Their mother and Hana are female divers in the local sea, and earn a living capturing the fresh seafood.
All this ideal life comes to a tragic end when Hana is taken by the Japanese, and life as she knew it ceases to exist. The author then takes us into the realities of war and human sex slaves, the part of war that tends to be swept under rug.
We later learn how Emi has been affected her whole life from growing up from the innocent four-year-old, to an elderly woman. Through it all she continues to search for her missing sister.
We soon learn the meaning of the title of the book, and why they are
A story that needs to be told, and with the people we will remember, and dark time in history, and we hope not to be repeated.

I received this book through Net Galley and Penguin Group Putman Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.

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