2.5 stars This immigrant saga opens in 1918 and follows a young naïve Korean woman who emigrates to Hawaii for an arranged marriage to a man she has never met and knows nothing about. The story includes a little of her simple, life in rural South Korea, her difficult journey (literal & figurative) and her eye-opening years in which she starts her own family and works a series of jobs. She develops a strong bond with 2 other ‘picture brides’ and their solidarity is a major thread in the book, which is very much about women and their hardships. Men have minor roles, and feature more in relation to the political situation. The story’s backdrop has South Korea struggling for independence from oppressive Japan, with the local ex-pat community is divided.
So I really liked the premise but ultimately found it very slow-going and repetitive. I didn’t feel engaged or connected to the characters. As a Westerner, I also had some difficulty with the unfamiliar Korean terms and names. I won a free copy of this book (thanks to the author & publisher!) and am voluntarily providing an honest review.