White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum

4.38 (15,402 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Look for your sister after each dive. Never forget. If you see her, you are safe.'

Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea.

One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day's catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore.

So begins the story of two sisters suddenly and violently separated by war. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war.

A riveting, immersive read in the vein of The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 30mm | 461g
  • Chatto & Windus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1784741442
  • 9781784741440
  • 327,594

Review Text

Devastatingly good
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Review quote

I read it in one sitting -- Kate Kellaway * Observer * I would also recommend Mary-Lynn Bracht's novel White Chrysanthemum, a story of family separation in Korea during the 20th century. I learned a lot about Korean culture in this book, but it also has a sweeping story that captivates the reader -- John Boyne * Irish Times Summer Reads * I read Hana and Emi's story with my heart in my mouth... A bold, devastating, important novel shot through with hope and beauty -- Rachel Joyce Introduces a heart-rending seam of history... Bracht has fashioned her own memorial to the comfort women. White Chrysanthemum is a timely and furiously felt book -- Rowan Hisayo Buchanan * Guardian * A hugely affecting, captivating read -- I cried for most of the second half -- Sarah Shaffi * Stylist * It's jaw-dropping, it's devastating, it's heart-breaking and absolutely beautiful. I couldn't recommend it more -- Sinead Moriarty Beautifully written... In elegant but emotionally devastating prose Bracht conveys the heartbreaking impact of brutality and war upon women -- Charlotte Heathcote * Sunday Express * Bracht's rich detail and captivating characters bring history vividly to life. An insightful, engaging and deeply emotional page-turner * Scotsman * If you're a fan of The Kite Runner and Memoirs of A Geisha, you'll love Mary Lynn Bracht's novel... Both educating and engaging, Bracht's rich detail and captivating characters plunge you into Korean history in a heartbreaking and deeply emotional page-turner -- Rebecca Wilcock * i newspaper * An evocative picture of loss and also an account of how one of the deepest human bonds can survive almost anything -- James Naughtie * BBC Radio 4 Today Programme * An emotional tale of sisterly endurance and a fascinating and harrowing insight into the hidden lives of Korean comfort women... you'll be captivated. Let the bidding for movie rights begin * The Pool * A soul-churning ode to the power of family love (and the ties that bind sisters specifically) and the importance of pursuing justice in the face of systemic silence... an unflinching-but-ultimately-redemptive book that places a much-needed spotlight on a forgotten moment of human horror * Emerald Street * Devastatingly good * Psychologies * A harrowing and powerful read, offering an insight into the widespread suffering of others during the war * Vogue * Bracht brings the truth to light with sensitivity... Bracht's beautiful descriptions are the perfect foil to the brutality... fascinating * Express *
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About Mary Lynn Bracht

Mary Lynn Bracht is an American author of Korean descent who now lives in London. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. She grew up in a large ex-pat community of women who came of age in post-war South Korea. In 2002 Bracht visited her mother's childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the 'Comfort Women' captured and set up in brothels for the Japanese military. White Chrysanthemum is her first novel.
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Rating details

15,402 ratings
4.38 out of 5 stars
5 52% (7,975)
4 37% (5,677)
3 10% (1,489)
2 1% (211)
1 0% (50)
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