Uncle Louis is sent with Theo and Pauline from Shanghai by the Deng family to start an antique business in Paris. He plans to arrange his son, Theo’s marriage and set him up in the business so he can return to China. But Theo manages to delay the arranged marriage first by further education, then finally by working as an interpreter for the British during WW1. When Pauline learns her uncle’s first wife is arranging her marriage, she is desperate to find her cousin to help her convince her uncle not to send her back to China. She rushes to Noyelles where Theo has been working with Chinese labourers but is distressed and fearful by what she discovers.
Every Janie Chang book I’ve read has been a five out of five. This one delves into a neglected part of World War1’s history that I had never read about which is seen through the eyes of its main characters—Theo and Pauline Deng and their friend Henri Liu, a Chinese journalist.
Soo-Ja grows up in a wealthy family, loved by everyone. With the war ended, she dreams of going to Seoul to become a diplomat, but her father does not want to lose the daughter he idolizes. Soo-ja feels trapped and believes the only way she can succeed is to marry a weak man whom she can convince to accompany her to Korea’s capital. She sets her hopes on Min, a man who claims to be in love with her and not long before their wedding, Yul, who wants to marry her too, warns her that Min is a bad choice. Young and eager to fulfil her dreams, will Soo-ja heed Yul’s warning or, like her father said of a daughter-in-law who marries the oldest son, will she live a life with nothing but drudgery, slaving for everyone else in her new family?
Moranna lives in a Cape Bretton farmhouse in a small village. She is often alone when her partner, Bun is away working on the ferries between islands. Although she is considered mad by the locals, she decides to attend her estranged daughter’s impending wedding in Halifax when she learns the news. But will she be welcomed?
In 1919 Pyongyang, Jade is sold to Madam Silver who will train her as a courtesan. But when Madam Silver’s daughter, Luna is raped, she sends Luna, Lotus, and Jade to her cousin, Dani in Seoul to hide Luna’s pregnancy. Aunt Dani continues their training while JungHo heads south to Seoul in search of a better life after his father’s death. Under Japanese occupation, underground movements form in the hope of gaining independence.
This novel takes place over fifty years following the lives of these characters and Korea’s struggle to break free from Japan’s strangling grip.
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