In this compelling love story set in postwar Korea in the 1960s, an unhappily married woman struggles to give her daughter a good life and to find love in a society caught between ancient tradition and change. Beautiful and ambitious, Soo-Ja Choi attempts to find happiness in a land where wives have no rights and mothers own nothing, where love remains elusive, and the only way to survive is to live the lessons of Confucian tradition: perseverance, strength, loyalty, and grace. Charting her way through an ill-advised marriage, Soo-Ja must navigate the intrigue and dangers of living with her conniving in-laws, all the while longing for her true love of the past, the elusive Doctor Yul. And when he enters her life again, Soo-Ja is confronted with a final chance at happiness, but must make a mother's ultimate choice. Epic and intimate, Park's debut offering-based on his own mother's story-is a snapshot of a nation rising from a poor, rural country into a major world power in the aftermath of a devastating war. This Burns My Heart evokes a strong sense of place and era reminiscent of Sarah Waters, and the richly drawn characters and exploration of women's changing roles brings to mind Lisa See.
An unflappable heroine anchors Park's epic post-Korean War love story (after Shakespeare's Sonnets). Having grown up in a privileged home in Daegu, Soo-Ja, a brilliant and ambitious 22-year-old woman, has dreams of being a diplomat in Seoul. After her father refuses to let her leave home, however, she sets out to find and marry a weak man who will allow her to make her own decisions. The first candidate is Min, a young revolutionary, who pursues her from afar, writing her letters from Seoul, one of which puts her on a path to meet a charismatic student leader, Yul. Although her feelings for Yul are strong, she marries Min and is immediately faced with the cold realities of his corrupt and hateful family and the realization that she isn't any closer to getting to Seoul. Her responsibilities and, soon, a daughter, keep her trapped in a loveless marriage as she longs for Yul, now a doctor, and a better life. But this is no quiet tale of yearning: the plot kicks in with an unexpected fierceness, and the ensuing action-a kidnapping, fist fights, blackmail-make for a dramatic, suck-you-in chronicle of a thrilling love affair. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Simon & Schuster
July 12, 2011
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