The Calligrapher's Daughter ~ Eugenia Kim

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Year: 2010
Pages: 386
Rating: «««««
ISBN: 9781408806180

Book Blurb: 
In early-twentieth-century Korea, Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny, though her country—newly occupied by Japan—is crumbling, and her family, led by her stern father, is facing difficulties that seem insurmountable. Narrowly escaping an arranged marriage, Najin takes up a new role as a companion to a young princess. But the king is soon assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to its end.

Najin pursues a coveted education and is surprised to find love. After one day of marriage a denied passport separates her from her new husband, who continues alone to America. As a decade passes and the world descends into war, Najin loses touch with her husband. Will the love they share be enough to sustain her through the deprivation her country continues to endure? The Calligrapher's Daughter is a richly drawn novel about a nation torn between ancient customs and modern possibilities, and is a "vivid, heartfelt portrait of faith, love and life for one family during a pivotal time in history"

My Thoughts:
WOW! This was my first voyage to Korea ... and after reading this book, I cannot WAIT to go back! I'll be honest, I really did not know a whole lot about Korea's history before reading "The Calligrapher's Daughter" but as I was reading, I found myself constantly wanting to know more. So I would feel the need to tear myself away from the story and hit the history books to discover more about what I was reading about in the story. I absolutely love it when historical-fiction books inspire me to learn more about the actual history (... yes I am a bit of a history nerd). 

I love how Ms. Kim weaves both the ancient and the pre-war modern Korean history into a harsh yet compelling, beautiful narrative. It was full of personal and national suffering, both of which seem unbearable - yet they persevered through faith, family and tradition. 

Najin is a very strong character with her own struggles. She struggles to maintain traditions in an ever changing, and modernising, world. She has dreams of getting an education and working (both modern thinking), yet she wants to be the good Korean daughter and wife (traditional) at the same time. 

I was amazed to find out after reading the novel that it was actually based on her mother's life. 

I would highly recommend this novel - it was absolutely breathtaking and it was extremely hard to put it down. Love, love, love! 

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