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White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum, February 2018
by Mary Lynn Bracht

G.P. Putnam's Sons
320 pages
ISBN: 0735214433
EAN: 9780735214439
Kindle: B0722T7JXQ
Hardcover / e-Book
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"The strength of memories across time"

Fresh Fiction Review

White Chrysanthemum
Mary Lynn Bracht

Reviewed by Svetlana Libenson
Posted April 5, 2018

Historical | Women's Fiction Historical

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 women who 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 a historical 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.

Learn more about White Chrysanthemum


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.

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. Following her motherís 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 forgiveness?

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 sistersí love for one another is strong enough to triumph over decades and the grim evils of war.

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