On the Shelf /

Lisa See

Latitude Magazine - - Contents - Re­viewed by Jo Tay­lor

Book Re­views

Si­mon & Schuster Aus­tralia

This is a riv­et­ing ex­plo­ration of fe­male friend­ship, the in­tri­ca­cies of fam­i­lies, work­ing women and the power of tur­bu­lent world events to im­pact on our clos­est re­la­tion­ships. Best friends Mi-ja and Young-sook live on the is­land of Jeju, a Korean is­land oc­cu­pied by the Ja­pa­nese, and are ‘haenyeo’ (sea women). Set over their life­time, the story charts their lives across a range of both very chal­leng­ing and joy­ful ex­pe­ri­ences. Set dur­ing a pe­riod of Ja­pa­nese colo­nial­ism in the 1930s and 1940s, fol­lowed by World War II, the Korean War and its af­ter­math, The Is­land of Sea Women is mes­meris­ing. Metic­u­lously writ­ten and re­searched, it re­veals in­tri­cate worlds and a way of life that amaz­ingly, con­tin­ues even to this day. It is in­cred­i­ble to think that com­mu­ni­ties of women would throw them­selves into the sea each day and sur­vive, only to risk their lives again the next day. Com­pelling, heart-wrench­ing and beau­ti­fully writ­ten, this is en­thralling his­tor­i­cal fic­tion.

Highly rec­om­mended.

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