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The Island of Sea Women

A Novel
Written by: Lisa See
Narrated by: Jennifer Lim
Length: 13 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 35.08
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Publisher's Summary

A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times best-selling 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 who 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 listeners to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

©2019 Lisa See (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

"Narrator Jennifer Lim underscores the multiple layers of this audiobook about two friends who grew up in Jeju Island, Korea...  Lim's expressive delivery highlights protagonist Young-sook's personality and complex feelings... Lim's clear and sensitive portrayals, complete with believable accents, make it easy for listeners to keep track of the characters." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lisa See is a treasure

I’m a huge Lisa See fan and The Island of Sea Women did not disappoint.
See thoroughly does her homework and research into the haenyeo culture of Jeju Island in Korea, that of these robust sea women. I had never heard of this matriarchal society, and my eyes were opened to a whole piece of history I knew nothing about. The story is beautifully crafted and you fall in love with the characters as she weaves her lyrical prose.Historical Fiction at its best!!!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Too much textbook, too little story

I was so disappointed with this book, following the amazing “Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane”.
I returned this book at about the quarter point. It was like listening to a reading of a textbook with a little bit of story thrown in.
I hear the book is supposed to get better about halfway through, but I just couldn’t make it that far. The narrator’s voice was grating to my ears, and I didn’t think I could listen to hours more without at least enjoying the story.

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  • Louise Ritchie
  • USA
  • 2019-03-25

Wonderful historical fiction

Reading this is a captivating way to learn about a matriarchal society that most westerners are not familiar with. I will remember and ponder this story for a long time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • mary krause
  • 2019-03-28

Overly dramatic read

I love Lisa See\s stories and this one is no exception. However the read on this is too dramatic. It takes away from the story. The readers diction is great and she pronounces the Korean well but I really would like to hear this read with a softer style.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • joanne blodgett
  • 2019-03-24

a women's story

Korea, so much in the news, so little of the stories of real people living real lives...we must learn and appreciate the parts we all play in all the stories...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christine
  • 2019-04-03

I get the point

I love Lisa See's books and always learn something new. In this case it is two-fold: the Haenyeo culture and the political times of Korea in the 40's. I had to finally turn it off after it went on and on (and on and on) in great detail of the violence that ensued as a result of the political climate for which the story takes place. I just could not listen any more. Enough! Point taken. Unfortunately with audio books, you can't just "skim" to get past certain parts without the risk of losing a significant part of the plot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Grace
  • 2019-03-17

A story shaped around history

I kept looking for time and places to listen as I wanted to know what would happen next. Lisa See learns so much about a place, its people and its history and creates a story around this. In this book I learned about Korea and in particular the Korean island of Jeju, Haenyeo, where the breadwinners are the matriarchal society of women divers. The story spans 3 generations, sharing the heart wrenching stories of Young-sook & Mi-ja who share so much as deep friends for whom outside circumstances and blindness to what the other endures, cuts deep wedges into that friendship consequently impacting the relationships of their offspring and grandchildren. Lisa See never disappoints.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A. Smith
  • South Texas
  • 2019-04-02

Powerful

This book will stat with me a long time. The story and message are powerful. I find myself wanting to read it again from the beginning. Lisa See's books are all extraordinary but this may be my new favorite. I highly suggest the narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Cynthia
  • 2019-03-27

Entertaining & historically informative ~

This is the 3rd of Lisa See’s novels I’ve enjoyed. Her characters are many and a select few are well developed. i learned a lot about that period of Korean history because as I was reading I found myself “googling” Jeju Island and the Incident 4 13 (horrific). ~ So many thanks, Ms. See, for the inspiration!
I couldn’t rate this work higher ~ it’s not quite at that level.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Erika Retana
  • 2019-04-19

"To understand is to forgive"

Absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. Lisa See's stories always so refreshing. Friendship, hardship, love, suffering, disappointed and more in one book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara
  • Visalia, CA, USA
  • 2019-04-16

Love Lisa See books

This was a good book but not one of my favorites of her books. I love the history her books present.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • christy
  • Wisconsin
  • 2019-04-14

Another Great Lisa See Novel

Lisa See does not disappoint. I have loved all of her books. She does a remarkable job bringing to life the stories of korean women / girls with an incredible talent to capture the relationships. Some of her books have been hard to get through some of the reality and content. This one is a bit more light hearted.

I frequently recommend her books to those who appreciate a depth in characters and an appreciation for the Korean culture during difficult times in the Korean history.

I enjoyed the story line with the relationship between the women and the sea. Such a great way to utilize this metaphor of strength of character.