The Picture Bride
Forge, 2022 (2022)
Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
illow, Hongju and Songwa, three young women from a very poor village in occupied Korea, travel to Hawaii to meet their new husbands. The novel centers on Willow, and it looks like she is going to be the lucky one. Her husband sent a picture that actually looks like him. The husbands of the other two sent pictures of themselves as young men, and they are definitely no longer young!
here is nothing easy about any of their lives, but over the years they are able to help each other and become very good friends as they work, have children and manage households all at the same time.
his is not only a story about women striving for and achieving independence, but also about what was happening politically in Japanese-occupied Korea in the early 20th century. Many felt they could fight the occupiers better from Hawaii and China. Until 1905, 72,000 Koreans immigrated to Hawaii, and over 1000 picture brides followed. As the author says, '
it must have been a great adventure for them … to leave their family, home, and country and have to adjust to an unfamiliar language and environment.'
he author has done a wonderful job in giving us a feeling for all of this. The novel was first published in Korea in 2020. It is well translated, and I would recommend reading the
soon after starting the story. It is very helpful.
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