Hana dreams that she is back in her island home of Jeju
surrounded by her small community as well as family, and
that on that particular day, she becomes a haenyeo, a deep
diver. However, upon waking up and hearing her younger
sister's voice in her head, Hana's dreams shatter into
countless pieces as reality forces her to remember that
she is a comfort woman during World War II, tucked away
far from her friends and family.
Moving back and forth between 1943 and 2011, steeped
in amazing period details, the reader begins to learn of
a little well-known dark secret that Japan desires to
hide: that of the existence of comfort women. These are
were kidnapped or coerced into literally becoming sex
slaves for the Japanese imperial forces from China,
Korea, Philippines, etc. In addition to learning
about comfort women, the reader learns as well the
numerous events that occurred on Jeju island since the end
of WWII through the younger sister's eyes.
I found the story to be addictive, and once I got started
it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put down
the story and to attend to other tasks. I also loved the
symbolism in terms of Hana's name and of her life tied to
flowers. Emi's story sections are also well written and
just as addictive because the reader sees the post World
War II South Korea through her eyes and the reader also
sees the many years of guilt she carries in her heart and
of her how life turned out to be.
WHITE CHRYSANTHEMUM by Mary Lynn Bracht is a perfect fit For
fiction lover that is seeking a read off the beaten path.
You will learn something new and unique about World War II
in Asia, as well as what happened in Jeju after WWII.
The Korean Nightingale, a sweeping historical debut for
fans of Lilac Girls, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Kristin
Hannah that brings to life the heartbreaking history of
Korea through the deeply moving and redemptive story of two
sisters separated by World War II.
Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation.
Following her mother’s footsteps into the sea as a haenyeo,
one of the famed female divers of beautiful Jeju Island, she
enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still
claim. Until the day Hana witnesses a Japanese soldier
threatening her beloved younger sister on shore. Desperate
to save her, Hana is captured and transported to Manchuria
where she is forced to become a comfort woman in a Japanese
brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength and
Hana holds close the lessons her mother taught her. She will
find her way home.
South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent
more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her
sister made. Now in the sunset of her life, Emi must finally
confront the past to discover the peace she so desperately
seeks. Finding hope in the healing of her children and her
country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war and find
At once suspenseful, hopeful, and
ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum puts a human face
to the heartrending history of Korea and tells a story in
which two sisters’ love for one another is strong enough to
triumph over decades and the grim evils of war.