The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was #30 on my 2020 Reading Challenge, a book recommended by a favorite online book club/chat group/whatever.
The sea, it is said, is like a mother. The salt water, the pulse and surges of the current, the magnified beat of your heart, and the muffled sounds reverberating through the water together recall the womb.
I loved this book, and have found a new author to devour.
More than chick-lit, this is grand historical fiction, the story of two great friends on Jeju Island, South Korea, from the end of the Cold War and Japanese occupation, through the Korean War and beyond. Most fascinating is the aspect of Korean haenyeo, literally “sea women,” who are the caretakers of the ocean and harvesters of its gifts, and the lush painting of the island’s matrifocal culture.
“You should be more careful out there,” the doctor says. “You have a dangerous job. I mean, do you see men doing it?”
“Of course not!” Young-sook exclaims. “The world knows that the cold water will cause their penises to shrivel and die.”
Warning: There are fairly-vividly described wartime atrocities, but there is so much more: Love, fear, sacrifice, hardship, friendship, community. This is a rich, delightful read.
Bookshelves: korean-war, asian-culture, women, historical-fiction, chick-lit