Winner of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best First Novel Award, Prix coup de cœur Saint-Maur en Poche 2018 and the 2019 Waverton Good Read Award. Finalist for the 2019 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.
Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.
South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?
Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.
“Elegantly written, emotionally shattering, and historically accurate, White Chrysanthemum is a feat of literary alchemy. Mary Lynn Bracht reveals the unfathomable cruelty of Japanese sex slavery during World War II through the unbreakable love of Korean sisters.” –Blaine Harden, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Camp 14
“A captivating, controlled and devastating book about the lives of two Korean sisters during the Second World War… Allows us to look at the immediate travesty of the so-called “comfort women” and the unresolved consequences of sexual slavery for the victims’ families. Brave, bold, important, this book is beautifully written with characters that will stay with you long after the final, unforgettable paragraph.” –Jackie Copleton, Bailey’s longlisted author of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
“White Chrysanthemum is a powerful account of a little discussed subject about the Second World War — comfort women enslaved by the Japanese army — but it’s also about the courage of the women involved who want to speak about their suffering and their cry for justice, peace and love. Hana’s tragic life is just one of an estimated 200,000 Korean comfort women’s stories. Beautifully written, it’s an impressive debut novel from a writer with a sensitive heart and gifted mind.” —Xiaolu Guo, author of A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
“A suspenseful and eye-opening historical work reminiscent of Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train, Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost, and Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours.” —Library Journal (starred)
“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, New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
“Masterfully crafted, Bracht’s mesmerizing debut novel is rich with historical detail and depth of emotion. This is a memorable story about the courage of Korean women during the Second World War.” —Publishers Weekly
“A debut novel about the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers in World War II—and the strong bond between two sisters separated by the conflict. … The book’s author, an American of Korean descent, writes well—the passages describing the sisters’ early lives are quite lyrical—and she’s adept at weaving in historical material about Korea and its fraught relationship with Japan.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This captivating and heartbreaking debut novel honors the many thousands of women who were enslaved through WWII.” —Booklist
“A timeless, heart wrenching, emotionally powerful tale that will resonate with readers… Its message will not be easily forgotten.” —RT Book Reviews
“A psychologically acute, emotionally resonant novel. . . . [R]ich with historical detail, White Chrysanthemum is a compelling and important account of civilian women’s lives during wartime.” —BookPage
Purchase at your local bookshop or via links below:
My local bookshop: West End Lane Books