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FREE BOOK Ë The Island of Sea Women ⚸ A New Novel From Lisa See, The New York Times Bestselling Author Of The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane, About Female Friendship And Family Secrets On A Small Korean IslandMi Ja And Young Sook, Two Girls Living On The Korean Island Of Jeju, Are Best Friends That Come From Very Different Backgrounds When They Are Old Enough, They Begin Working In The Sea With Their Village S All Female Diving Collective, Led By Young Sook S Mother As The Girls Take Up Their Positions As Baby Divers, They Know They Are Beginning A Life Of Excitement And Responsibility But Also Danger Despite Their Love For Each Other, Mi Ja And Young Sook S Differences Are Impossible To Ignore The Island Of Sea Women Is An Epoch Set Over Many Decades, Beginning During A Period Of Japanese Colonialism In The S And S, Followed By World War II, The Korean War And Its Aftermath, Through The Era Of Cell Phones And Wet Suits For The Women Divers Throughout This Time, The Residents Of Jeju Find Themselves Caught Between Warring Empires Mi Ja Is The Daughter Of A Japanese Collaborator, And She Will Forever Be Marked By This Association Young Sook Was Born Into A Long Line Of Haenyeo And Will Inherit Her Mother S Position Leading The Divers In Their Village Little Do The Two Friends Know That After Surviving Hundreds Of Dives And Developing The Closest Of Bonds, Forces Outside Their Control Will Push Their Friendship To The Breaking Point This Beautiful, Thoughtful Novel Illuminates A World Turned Upside Down, One Where The Women Are In Charge, Engaging In Dangerous Physical Work, And The Men Take Care Of The Children A Classic Lisa See Story One Of Women S Friendships And The Larger Forces That Shape Them The Island Of Sea Women Introduces Readers To The Fierce And Unforgettable Female Divers Of Jeju Island And The Dramatic History That Shaped Their Lives NOW AVAILABLE This was a bit of a slow moving read for me, probably because there were so many characters and so much detail about a multitude of things.When we start the novel the island of Jeju off the coast of Korea is under Japanese control The two main characters Mi ja and Young sook are young girls, but already being groomed to become Haenyeo , strong women divers who gradually learn to hold their breath long enough to dive to the ocean floor There is much to their culture than just diving but this review would be way too long if I started to list their beliefs and rituals In this society the women are expected to provide all the food and money for the family while the husbands care for the children and are responsible for cooking the family meals The women even maintain their vegetable gardens while the men never work.Young sook is the daughter of the head of the collective which dives to support their family Her family has lived on the island for generations and don t know anything much about the outside world At this time they are under Japanese control and they are very fearful of the Japanese soldiers who are known for their brutal treatment of women and corrupt governing.Mi ja is an orphan who lives with her aunt and uncle She was from the Jeju City so was used to living a different life Her parents were financially well off and known to be Japanese collaborators She was used to a lifestyle with pretty dresses, a nice home, etc Her aunt and uncle treat her terribly, she is pretty much used as a slave to them, forcing her to do all of the household and field work and beat her.Mi ja finally gets up the courage to ask Young sook s mother if she could be taught how to dive and join the collective The women feel sorry for her but she is still tainted as a Japanese collaborator, however they teach her the ways of the Haenyeo and she joins them.Later the two young women go to summer jobs in China and Japan to bring in money for the family When they are 21 they go to the Soviet Union, Vladivostok, where they dive in the icy cold waters and live in boarding houses which are almost hovels When they return the last time from their summer work they have already had marriages arranged for them Young sook is to wed a long time island man, Junba, who is now a teacher in Jeju city and whom she has known since childhood Mi ja is to wed Sang mun who works in Jeju city for the Japanese After these weddings and throughout the years, many things happen to tear the girls relationship apart.Since this book spans so many years we are audience to the many atrocities that accompany wars and demonstrations of control Many people lost loved one to brutal killings by the Japanese An uprising, later known as the 4.3 incident, caused the massacre of thousands of the islanders including women and children Young sook reached out to Mi ja to help save them but she turned to her husband and left What happens tears them apart forever.The ending is a very good one and satisfying to read It is very emotional and enlightening However much I enjoyed this book I didn t seem to feel the connection to the characters that I have in other Lisa See books The author did incredibly extensive research which she details at the end of the book.I received an ARC of this novel from publisher through Edelweiss. Update Happy Publication Day Today, March 5th, 2019 Haenyeo is the Korean name for the sea women who, through careful husbandry, harvest the sea through various seasons of production and restoration On Jeju Island, south of mainland Korea, they called themselves jamsu, jamnyeo, or jomnyeo, which are all Jeju words The haenyeo culture is characterized as matrifocal that is, focused on females They did all the difficult and dangerous work in their families and had to be in top physical form to do so, beginning their training when young to hold their breath, develop strong, supple muscles, and expand their instincts for danger and for spotting their underwater harvests.I know from reading the author s note how much research was involved in this story Before I even read how this book came about, the feeling I had was of Lisa See doing her always exceptional historical and current research, and visiting the places she wrote about in person, but also listening to the stories of various people who remembered the period of time covered in this novel Then, taking all of the history and the stories and stirring them with her imagination, Lisa See wove this fascinating, tragic, and utterly absorbing story.And on the tides of trust in this author, and with a few deep breaths, I dove into this story, and I dove deep.We are drawn into the story of Mi ja and Young sook who first met when they were seven years old and grew to be heart friends, sharing their deepest held secrets, their love of diving, and many adventures, including going to Russia as teenagers to dive in freezing cold waters for extra money to bring home for their families When they are 21, a rift occurs and although they continue to be buoyed by their loving bond, the seeds of suspicion and distrust are planted.Through the eyes, hearts, and experiences of two young girls who mature and grow into women with their own families, we are transported seamlessly between the past when they were younger, through and into a time 70 years onward The culture and history of Jeju Island is both tragic and triumphant.Tragic, because there was always some government somewhere wanting to take control of the Island due to its strategic military location Decades of living in fear, of poverty, restrictions, and wars would surely wear down any group of people Triumphant because, like the inspiring haenyeo with their amazing abilities, again and again these Island people propelled themselves from the depths and to the surface.I loved everything about this novel the story, the characters, the setting, and the many, many things I learned There are heart rending and catastrophic events in this story, and there were several times when I had to pause in my reading to absorb the shock of what these characters that I grew to love went through At the same time, it is a testament and tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that will stay within my heart for always With gratitude to Simon and Schuster Canada, Scribner and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this novel, and to the author, Lisa See the only author who could have written this story Its publication date is March 05, 2019.
I first learned about the Korean island of Jeju and the Haenyeo, the female divers, the fisher women who were the major providers of food and income for their families, when I read White Chrysanthemum It was a story of the Japanese occupation of Korea and the horrors of young women being taken by the Japanese to be a comfort workers and a young haenyeo is taken See s novel focuses specifically on the lives of the Haenyeo spanning decades and is a much in depth look She gives wonderful descriptions, at times a lot of detail, about the culture of the collective of women, the rituals and rules, spoken and unspoken, how they dive with no equipment and harvest food from the sea There are several layers to this story, though It s a story of a friendship that becomes fractured, of grief, of a culture, the broader story of a country s history told through the lives of two women I was interested early on when we meet Young sook, near eighty perhaps, as we discover that there has been a rift between her and her best friend Mi ja for many years I was interested in knowing what caused it The story unfolds, moving through time telling of the bond they formed as children, as haenyeoIt tells of events in their lives, both happy and heartbreaking as they grow up during the Japanese occupation, through their childhood, their marriages, their children Initially, it lacked an emotional connection for me, but further on in the story, I felt for these women and their deep sadness and loss portrayed here There is one brutal scene in particular that is just gut wrenching I really didn t know much about the history of Korea leading up to North and South Korea I didn t know what the Bukchon massacre was or the strategic importance of Jeju, or the political significance that resulted in some horrific things that happened here The strength of the book for me was the depiction of this history, learning things I never knew of, about a culture and a country I didn t know a lot about I found it to be a very worth while read, as I have found with all of the books by Lisa See that I have read This was a regular monthly read with Diane and Esil Thanks as always for reading with me.I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through both Edelweiss and NetGalley. 5 starsThis is a story of pain , sorrow, anger, anger and grief all rolled into one This is historical fiction, set on the island of Jeju, South Korea It centers on the relationship between two women, Mi ja and Young sook, from the 1930s to 2008 They are best friends growing up in a Korea run by the Japanese, who made a colony of Korea in 1910 SPOLIER alert They remain friends until one day in January 1949, when their friendship is destroyed Young sook s husband, son and sister in law are killed by South Korean soldiers End alert.I was aware that the US installed a dictator, Rhee Syngman Korean US is Syngman Rhee , who was a staunch anti communist, in S Korea I was not aware that his police and army had a large number of Japanese collaborators His regime ruthlessly suppressed opponents who protested, asking for democratic elections, killing thousands on Jeju alone.This book also has a large amount of information of the women on Jeju, who do the fishing, while their husbands stay home taking care of the children This practice goes back hundreds of years to a time when men who fished were heavily taxed by Korean kings, while women paid no taxes.Some quotes Jeju is her home, an island known for Three Abundances wind, stones and women Her house is a nest where she hides the joy, laughter, sorrows and regrets of her life After giving birth The four of us were back on the boat within days The babies lay side by side in their cradles., linked with all the cradles My solace came from knowing I was not alone in my misery So many men had been killed in Bukchon that it was now called the Village of Widows I strongly recommend this book to all historical fiction and Lisa See fans.Update March 3, 2019 My wife just finished reading this book, 1 3 rd of the way in she was hoping that a certain man would die He was a wife beater Thank You Simon and Schuster for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.