I thought today I would feature the book I selected as my First Read of 2021. It's heartbreaking and beautiful so far.
A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives. [Goodreads Summary]
A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the amazing Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.
An old woman sits on the beach, a cushion strapped to her bottom, sorting algae that's washed ashore. She's used to spending time in the water, but even on land she's vigilant to the environment around her. Jeju is her home, an island known for Three Abundances: wind, stones and women. [opening of The Island of Sea Women]
My initial thoughts: The novel begins in a more contemporary time; the year is 2008. From these first sentences, I feel like I am already beginning to settle in for a good story. I immediately want to know more about Jeju and its women.
A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.
"I apologize for the misbehavior of the women in my household," Father said in his fumbling Japanese. "We always want to help--"The lieutenant sounded sympathetic, but there was no way to trust him. Father bit a thumbnail. I wished he didn't look so scared.The lieutenant motioned to one of his men. A bag was dropped on the ground. "Here is your compensation," he said, "From now on, try to do as we do. Keep your women home."That was an impossible request, but Father agreed to it. [excerpt from page 56]
My thoughts: I could say so much about this excerpt, but to say too much would spoil what comes before. From it though, you can see the power dynamics at play. The Japanese officer is clearly in charge and the villagers are afraid of him and the soldiers. You can probably guess that the compensation offered is a pittance. As if that erases any wrongs done. I also want to point out that the Japanese clearly did not grasp the role of women in the JeJu society. Because of course the soldiers are only thinking of things from their own perspective, one in which women are more subservient to men.
Have you read The Island of Sea Women? Does it sound like something you would like to read?
Originally a feature called Last Year I Was Reading created by Maria from ReadingMaria.
I liked it enough to continue on my own, but have tweaked it
to feature Five Years Ago I Was Reading.
(I would have gone back ten, but I read so little in 2011)
Five years ago, I was reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by by Katarina Bivald which was a much different type of book than the one I am reading currently. Whereas The Island of Sea Women is a sweeping historical novel that is often dark and sad, Bivald's novel is much more light-hearted, often funny, and a bit on the sentimental side. I really enjoyed The Readers of Broken Wheel about a stranger coming to town to visit a pen pal, only to find she's died. The stranger stays and sets up a bookshop in town.
The strange woman standing on Hope's main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous. ~ Opening of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Do you remember what you were reading five years ago? How does it compare to what you are reading now?
Connect Five Friday is a weekly meme where readers share a list of five books,
read or unread, or bookish things, that share a common theme.
Hosted by the Kathryn of of Book Date.
It seemed a fitting theme to go with books with "winter" in the title since 'tis the season. I went with books I have read, unfortunately not all were winners for me.
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin came high recommended, and while I was not thrilled by it, it certainly had some unforgettable moments. I just never quite clicked with it.
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke is one of those books that is best to go into knowing very little about. Picture a small crack in a car's windshield. I really enjoyed it after a rocky start.
I read Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole in 2013 at the recommendation of fellow blogger. At the time, I was not really into novels with where the main genre was romance, but I decided to give the series a try. It was interesting reading my thoughts from way back then in comparison to what I think now. I did enjoy Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night the most of the three books of the series I read.
A Loud Winter's Nap by Katy Hudson is a cute children's book. Sometimes I wouldn't mind sleeping through the winter, but the I would miss out on so much!
One book I really enjoyed with "winter" in the title is Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell. The author was capture so well the bleakness and poverty of the area, mixed in with its beauty.
Have you read any books with "winter" in the title?
Every Friday Coffee Addicted Writer from Coffee Addicted Writer poses a question which participants respond on their own blogs within the week (Friday through Thursday). They then share their links at the main site and visit other participants blogs.
What upcoming books are you intrigued to read in 2021? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)
So many! I participate in a weekly meme in which I feature upcoming releases I am anticipating--because there is always something coming out I want to read. I will share three with you today. I do not know when I will read them as they are only on my wish list, but one can dream, right?
The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give prequel)
The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers
What about you? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to reading?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Be sure and tell me what you are reading and are up to!
© 2021, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
I am so glad you're liking the Lisa See book so far. I actually still think about it occasionally.ReplyDelete
Helen - I am only about half way through it, but really enjoying it so far. I can see why it would stay with you. Thank you for visiting!Delete
I love the idea of looking back 5 years! I've added the feature to my Friday post. Hope you don't mind! It was very interesting to go back and read a review from 5 years ago :) I hope you can stop by!ReplyDelete
Colletta - I'm glad you are going to look back on your reading too! I loved the idea when I first saw it on Maria's blog. I'm just sorry she didn't continue with it. It doesn't mean we can't though. :-) Thank you for stopping by!Delete
Lovely selection of reads.ReplyDelete
Mystica - Thank you!Delete
The Island of sea women is still on my TBR and I have a copy of the Readers of Broken Wheel recommends on my Kindle and will definitely get to it this year.ReplyDelete
Enjoy your weekend!
Mareli (Elza) - I hope you will enjoy both when you read them! Thank you for visiting.Delete
That Lisa See book is one of my favorites ever. Somehow it just struck me in ways that I wasn't expecting. I've recommended it to everyone, even those who don't normally read 'non-mystery' books. LOLReplyDelete
Kay - It really is good. I have yet to be disappointed by a Lisa See novel. Although I do have my favorites. :-) Thank you for stopping by!Delete
I love Lisa See's writing. I'm behind on her published works, but the ones I have read are just amazing (despite all the sadness).ReplyDelete
I also really enjoyed your winter titles! And the cover art for "A Loud Winter's Nap" is just adorable.
E.M. - I am not caught up on Lisa See's novels either, but the ones I have read I have loved. I am glad you like her work too!Delete
Isn't that a lovely cover for A Loud Winter's Nap? The illustrations inside are really nice too.
Thank you for visiting!
Your excerpts are captivating. I now feel like I want to join these characters and find out more about them. Here's mine: “THE WIFE UPSTAIRS”ReplyDelete
Laurel-Rain - I feel like I'm there with them as I read. :-) Thank you for stopping by!Delete
I enjoyed reading your post, Wendy. And I can't believe that The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend has been sitting unread on my book shelf for 5 years. I still want to read it. Happy reading!ReplyDelete
Catherine - I am glad I finally picked it up to read. I hope you enjoy The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend when you read it! It was a sweet read. Thank you for visiting!Delete
I've heard about the women sea divers before. Would like to read a book about them. I tried Winter's Tale years ago- and it didn't work for me either. Was a DNF here.ReplyDelete
Jeane - I have a couple more books about the women sea divers and may have to read them soon. Their history is really fascinating. I am sorry Winter's Tale didn't work for you either. I'm really surprised I made it through all the way. I did like some parts of it, but I feel like I was missing something the entire time I was reading. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
The Gilded Ones is on my TBR list, and the Island of Sea Women and The Ladies of the Secret Circus sound fascinating!ReplyDelete
Want to stop by and see what I'm reading and anticipating? https://theplainspokenpen.com/book-beginnings-on-friday-and-book-blogger-hop-january-8-2021/
Lisa - I hope we both enjoy The Gilded Ones when we read it. It sounds like it will be good. I haven't finished The Island of Sea Women, but I do recommend it based on what I have read so far!Delete
Thank you for visiting!
I loved the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend! I read it in 2017. And I really liked Winter's Bone, too. What a good book. Right now, I'm reading The Bony Yard by Jefferson Bass. :)ReplyDelete
Lark - Winter's Bone was a surprise hit with me. Such a great book. I am glad you read and liked it too! The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was such a fun book. :-) I hope you are enjoying The Bone Yard! Thank you for stopping by!Delete
The Island of the Sea Women sounds amazing.ReplyDelete
Roberta - It is! I'm really liking it so far. Thank you for visiting!Delete
Your Island of Sea Women sounds interesting. I've added it to
my TBR list. Have a great day!
Sherrie - I hope you do get a chance to read it. It's such a good book. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
Sounds rich in culture and I love that! Happy weekend!ReplyDelete
Freda - It is! I am learning a lot I hadn't known before. Thank you for visiting! I hope you have a great weekend too.Delete
I think I might try the 5Connect. It sounds like a fun little project. I, too, read The Readers of Wagon Wheel... about five years ago. I was so disappointed by it. My Friday postReplyDelete
Anne - I have had fun with coming up with topics for the Connect 5. I used to love doing the Top 10 each week, but the five is more manageable for me right now. I'm sorry you didn't care for The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It hit just the right spot with me when I read it. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
I've never read Lisa See before, but I've heard many good things about her. This sounds like a book I'd like.ReplyDelete
Yvonne - Her books are so good! They can be on the sad side, but she writes such great characters. I hope if you give her work a try you will enjoy it. Thank you for visiting!Delete
Oh my goodness, I love Kresley Cole's books. Those vampires... yep. lolReplyDelete
Mary - They are fun reads. :-) Thank you for stopping by!Delete
I loved The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. I want to read The Island of Sea Women. I got the audiobook at the library, but after listening to some of it, I decided this is one I want to read. Yes, they are very different books, but that's okay. Different genres keep reading fresh for me.ReplyDelete
Carla - I am glad to hear you enjoyed The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend too. :-) I like reading a variety of types of books too. I don't want to burn out on any one genre. And it's sometimes good to balance the lighter with the darker reads, right? Thank you for visiting!Delete
I need to read Lisa See's book. Thanks for sharing and have a good weekend.ReplyDelete
Lauren @ Always Me
Lauren - I highly recommend The Island of Sea Women. It was really good. I hope you have a good week. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
'The Island Of Sea Women' is definitely one I want to read, as I read another book not totally dissimilar a while ago, about a Japanese collaborator on the occupied island of Java, which I really enjoyed. I quite like the idea of finding out more about the island and culture of Jeju island too, as this sounds like and interesting and intriguing place!
'Winter's Bone' also sounds interesting, thanks for sharing :)
I have changed the way I am blogging from 5 years ago, however it looks as though one of the books I finished in January of that year, was 'The Girls' by Lori Lansens, which I really enjoyed and can still remember vividly to this day
Thanks for such a packed and interesting post :)
Yvonne - After reading The Island of Sea Women, I really would like to read more about Jeju and its history. Such a rich culture and a devastating past that only in recent years is really coming to light. So much pain. I hope you do get a chance to read The Island of Sea Women.Delete
It's a sign of a great book when you can recall it so well years later. The Girls sounds like a great book. My memory isn't what it once was, but usually reading over my old reviews brings a book back to me. Just how much depends on the book and how much of an impression it made on me though.
Thank you for visiting!
This sounds like such a wonderful read. Thanks for sharing! Hope you have an awesome weekend! :)ReplyDelete
Ashley - Thank you! It was a great way to start off the year.Delete
Such a wide range of interesting books. Must check them out. Happy reading!ReplyDelete
Beverly - Thank you for visiting!Delete
So glad you are enjoying Lisa See's book. Her writing really works for me. I just haven't had a chance to catch up with some of her newer books. I did read the Bivald book and unfortunately I didn't like it very much which was a shame as I really was expecting a lot. I need to check out Winter Bone - sounds interesting! Hope you are having a great weekend!ReplyDelete
Iliana - I really like Lisa See's writing as well. I'm sorry you didn't care for Bivald's book. I know it wasn't well received by everyone, but it hit just the right spot for me. I hope you will give Winter Bone a try. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
I read Readers of a Broken Wheel Recommend in 2020 and enjoyed it though not quite as much as I expected. I have The Island of Sea Woman on my TBR and on my shelf and am looking forward to reading it at some point though I'm avoiding anything dark or sad at the moment.ReplyDelete
Katherine - The Island of Sea Women is definitely not one to read when you want something lighter. It's heartbreaking. Definitely worth reading though when the time is right. Thank you for visiting!Delete
I have that Lisa See book... although I still need to read it! Glad to hear you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
The stuff at the capital has me nervous, especially since I live 3 hours away. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me, but it was very shocking. I hope the appropriate actions are taken although I will not hold my breath for it.
Let's hope next week is better!
Shannon - I hope you get a chance to read The Island of Sea Women at some point. I still have a couple of her older books to get to. I Lisa See's writing.Delete
I know what you mean. What happened in D.C. wasn't surprising, but still shocking. I hope we have seen the end of it, but I'm skeptical.
Thank you for stopping by!
I love winter, I wouldn't want to sleep through it! I love the cold and the coziness inside reading! I really enjoyed The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.ReplyDelete
Kathryn - Yes, you can't give up good reading time to sleeping through winter. :-) Thank you for visiting!Delete
I can't believe that I still have not read The Island of Sea Women, so many have recommended it. Hopefully I will get to it this year. That cover is lovely and I'm happy you are enjoying it.ReplyDelete
Diane - It's impossible to keep up with all the books we want to read. :-) Hopefully you get a chance to read The Island of Sea Women someday. Thank you for stopping by!Delete
Connect 5 Friday looks like fun! I'll have to join in sometime.ReplyDelete
Stacy - I hope you will try Connect 5! Thank you for visiting!Delete
I have not read Lisa See yet but this book sounds wonderful. I haven't read any of the winter books you featured but I know that I read Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas years ago.ReplyDelete
Carole - It is such a good book. I have loved everything I've read by Lisa See. Thank you for stopping by!Delete