Reviews

The Picture Bride, by Lee Geum-yi

canolan4's review

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emotional informative sad slow-paced

4.25

differentsisters's review against another edition

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hopeful inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes

4.0

serendipitysbooks's review against another edition

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emotional informative reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

 The Picture Bride is the story of Willow and two of her friends who in in the early twentieth century sail from Korea to Hawaii to marry Korean men whom they have never met. Proposals were made and accepted solely on photographs, which were not always to be relied upon. It’s a story that covers all the expected details of the women’s lives in Hawaii, lives that didn’t necessarily live up to the expectations they had, but also traverses the history of Korea’s struggle for independence from Japan, particularly the role of Koreans living outside the country. While I was interested in the concept of picture brides and their experiences, I didn’t connect emotionally with the characters. I’m not sure if that was because this was a work in translation, and sometimes things do get lost in translation, or because the political details took me out of the women’s stories. The structure of the book may have also been an issue. The last fifty pages or so involved a big jump forward in time, a shift in narrative perspective, and the revelation of a big family secret. It just didn’t feel well integrated with the book as a whole. The premise was promising but I wasn’t able to sink into this one as much as I’d hoped. 

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rothieee's review

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hopeful informative reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

isamgc's review

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emotional informative mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

manorclassics's review against another edition

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informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

I have mixed feelings about this one. The story was really good, interesting and informative, and I liked the characters, but I felt very little emotion and I think something might have got lost in translation. It's definitely worth reading to find out about the lives of Korean picture brides, girls who emigrated to America to marry men they had only seen in a photo, but it didn't grab my heart so I'm a bit disappointed.

I'd like to thank the publishers, Scribe UK, and Netgalley for kindly providing me with an advance release copy. All opinions are my own.

charms_professor_noble's review

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emotional reflective sad medium-paced

4.0

kindredbooks's review

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3.0

I received an e-galley of The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi from Macmillan-Tor/Forge via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love stories that are set in a historical timeframe - allowing readers to learn about a particular history - while also invoking a great sense of storytelling that focuses on the personal stories of the time. In The Picture Bride, readers are brought into the period of time when Japan had colonized Korea and thus our story starts with the young Korean woman, Willow, who chooses to leave her home country for what is promised to be a better future in faraway Hawaii. She becomes one of many picture brides at this time - choosing a husband through a picture from a matchmaker - and not meeting said husband until she makes her long journey across the ocean. When she arrives in Hawaii, she finds that the promises made of this new life are not quite as she was promised - but her tenacity and determination to make the best of the situation creates a story of strength, hope, and friendship. 

rhodaj's review

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adventurous informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

duckyreads's review against another edition

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emotional informative medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

The Picture Bride is an intriguing translated Historical Fiction story that follows several young women known as picture brides that travel from Korea to Hawaii to be married to Korean men that they've only seen pictures of. Willow is the primary narrator in the story, and we start her story as a young girl and the only daughter of a widowed mother. 

I really enjoyed that the narrative weaves accurate historical information about the tension between China, Korea, Japan, and the Pacific region in that period. It's a glimpse into the probable lives of the Korean people during that time. Willow is an admirable character, especially considering how young she was when she went to Hawaii. Her relationship with her husband was initially reserved, but watching her find her voice was inspiring. 

The familial relationship she has with the other picture brides, Hongju and Sanghwa, was very sweet and lovely to read. The narrator also did a great job reading and dramatizing the story. As a translated work most of the dialogue flowed, but there were some areas where the narrative was clunky.  

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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