A gloomy Sunday morning needs some homemade waffles and this lovely read, PICTURE BRIDE by Korean writer LEE GEUM-YI, translated by An Seon Jae.
A story about three women from rural Korea who travel to Hawaii in 1918 to marry complete strangers. They are picture brides, whose marriages have arranged based just on a photo. They’ve been told that their future husbands are young landowners in Hawaii. Unfortunately when they arrive, the women learn that they’ve been tricked by old photos and that the men are just workers on plantations.
Willow is the main character, and she’s relieved to learn that her groom is at least still a young man. The grooms of her two friends, Honshu and Songhwa, are much older. But Willow’s husband, Taewan, is distant and cold at first, until she learns about his previous relationship.
The three women continue their friendship throughout the years. And that’s really the crux of this story – friendship. Despite all that goes on, politics, death, abuse, these three women have one another.
I enjoyed learning about these picture brides and what their lives in Hawaii was like. The struggles faced by the overseas Koreans during the Korean independence movement was quite interesting, as Willow’s husband Taewan is heavily involved in the movement.
I did enjoy this book. The writing is straightforward and simple. But occasionally, I longed for a little bit more. More what exactly? I don’t know. Something that would make me feel more for the characters, maybe?
I have to give this a solid 3.5 ⭐️ – a good read, with some slightly bland characters. But an eye opener in terms of the lives and struggles of these overseas Koreans during the independence moment.