Welcome to Hyacinths for the Soul

My heartfelt thanks for stopping by for a visit to my blog. HFTS is all about friendship, feathering one's nest, and sharing a creative spirit. Thank you to all of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.

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Friday, April 23, 2010


is available here on Amazon.
I give this book ****.

This is my 6th book review linked to Food for Thought hosted by the incredibly talented Jain of Food with Style and Once in a Blue Moon. For those of you here for Pink Saturday there is plenty of pink scattered about. I'm also serving tea today. Enjoy!

THE CALLIGRAPHER'S DAUGHTER is set in early twentieth-century Korea and spans thirty years. It's the story of Najin Han, the only daughter of an aristocratic calligrapher and his strong willed wife. I admit I knew nothing of the history of Korea before reading this remarkable piece of historical fiction, but I now have a new appreciation for the people and culture that suffered during Japan's aggression and occupation of their county. Inspired by the life of the author's mother, Ms. Kim, masterfully weaves together Korean traditions, historical facts, and a portrait of a strong, independent young woman.

Raised in a home with both Confucian traditions and Christian beliefs, Najin Han is fortunate to have a mother who encourages the young girl's independence and dream of a formal education. It was fascinating to glimpse this period of history through Najin's eyes as she grew into a young woman who learned to balance her dreams and goals with the centuries old traditions of her cultural heritage.

Though the book is an intimate portrait of Najin Han's early life and the story of a nation in transition, it is also a beautiful and touching love story. Eugunia Kim's rich and descriptive narratives painted images within my mind as if I were looking through a photo album.

Ms. Kim's poetic imagery gave me a sense of the beautiful culture of Korea

and transfixed me in this time and place.

I'm pleased to say this book offers a perfect format for Food for Thought. There are numerous food references scattered throughout the pages.

The description of the 100th Day Celebration for Najin's baby brother was exquisite.

I was intrigued with the fact that the wife served the husband his meals, then retired to her quarters to eat. The meals described were of simple, fresh foods.

There were absolutely wonderfully descriptive passages of two different picnics. I considered recreating one of these, but in the end decided on a simple afternoon tea.

About a third of the way into the book, Najin, a teenager, is sent to Seoul to live with her aunt. Though Najin's time in Seoul is a significant part of the story, I'll let you discover the details for yourself. In the passage above, Najin and Imo have returned from yet another shopping spree in which Imo has purchased more gifts for Najin. It's a rainy afternoon, and the two go into Imo's sitting room for afternoon tea.

It's not raining here at HFTS so I thought we'd have tea in the garden.

Click here to visit Eugenia Kim's web site for more information about this remarkable book. You can also view an album of family photos taken in Korea circa 1920s and 1930s that Ms. Kim provides for yet another layer of this fascinating story. I recommend that you get a copy of this book, fix a pot of tea, and settle in for an amazing journey to early 20th century Korea.

Don't forget to stop by Food for Thought for more edible book reviews. Visit Beverly @ How Sweet the Sound for a list of Pink Saturday participants, and on Tuesday you can enjoy more tea parties at Lady Katherine's Tea Time Tuesdays , Wanda's Tuesday Tea for Two, and Sandi's Tea Time Tuesdays.


  1. I love your reviews, and will reserve this book online as soon as I've made my comment - love the online library!
    Your afternoon tea looked very refreshing - love the addition of the blossoms.

  2. How soothing, Sarah! I almost hear chimes in the background. You've created a very evocative & Oriental atmosphere.
    I gave away my Oriental teapot. :( I thought I had too many...silly me.

    My brother in TX served in Korea. I will make sure he sees your review as I think this book will interest him greatly. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post.

  3. It sounds like you can't help but try some of the Korean inspired food after reading this book. And I love teas: your teapot is lovely.

  4. As always, your reviews have so much attention to detail & are so thoughtful. Beautiful pics~ I love the leaves and flowers on the text. Tea in the garden, wish I could join you :-)

  5. You are a wonderful stylist, not only with product but your words are lovely as well..thanks for sharing and enjoy the weekend!
    xOxO Nerina

  6. Thank you for this beautiful, thoughtful and gorgeously adorned review. The photographs are exquisite and enhance this review with an exceptionally lovely touch. I appreciate books with food done well, so I'll be watching your blog for recommendations. Thank you again.

  7. oh i so wanted to read this book, i had checked it out even and ran out of time and had to return it untouched... eyes bigger then tummy kind of thing, when spring hits rapid reading plummets~

    your presentation is gorgeous... your pics are exquisite and your prose just as mesmerizing "painted images within my mind as if I were looking through a photo album." i know i say this too often, but i do LOVE FOOD FOR THOUGHT! to see everyone share books visually is enchanting to me... i know the time it takes to do our little book reviews, i love it, but to see others do it so well too, well it just puts me over the moon!

    your tea is beyond charming... i am completely enticed with your presentation... does it get any better?

    LOVED LOVED LOVED YOUR REVIEW! i am definitely getting this book, i KNOW i will love it, and your review was another delight to my senses, thank you SO much for sharing, LOVED it all, just beautiful~

    oh and you had the author visit, EXCITING TOO!

  8. I am so glad you reviewed this book. I have 2 adopted sisters from Korea and , growing up, we learned a lot about the culture. I love Korean food; KimChee and Bolkogi, mmmmmmm, it has been a long time.
    Blessings to you~Cindy

  9. What a lovely book review!! You did an exquisite job with both your words and photos!! Hope you enjoyed your Pink Saturday!!! dana

  10. lovely review, lovely photos and nice looking food! I enjoyed your post!

  11. What a beautiful post.You're a thoughtful and talented lady.

  12. Sarah! What a FABULOUS post!

    I am intrigued by the book! The blend of traditions really appeals to me! Thank-you!!!!!

    love, kelee

  13. Nice entry~~and reveiws~~
    Happy Pink Saturday:))

    Kay Ellen

  14. I'm always looking for the next book to read. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction! It's always a pleasure to visit Hyacinths For The Soul.

  15. What a modern woman Najin's mother must have been to go against her husband for a brighter future for her daughter. The story itself looks very captivating while teaching us all a history lesson about the early 20th century Korea. Thanks for the fab review Sarah. The pictures of tea in the garden look amazing and once again you have managed to capture the mood you were trying to create. A few girlfriends were talking about starting a book club and this really looks like one I could bring up! Hope you are having a great weekend! Sherri : )

  16. How exciting that Ms. Kim left you a comment! Of course after your beautiful review of her book this is quite fitting - your description makes me want to run out to buy it! I had seen it, and as anything about calligraphy always catches my eye, I thought I might enjoy it, now I know I will.

    Love how you have set tea Sarah....I'm so happy that here in America people are at long last enjoying the real concept of sitting down to tea. Making it a time to relax and have a meaningful break during the hectic pace of life......so important, if old-fashioned! But then there's nothing wrong with 'old-fashioned' in my view.

    Congrats. on being included in Beverly's article - that's so great. My best friend in England is also there, she has just asked me to PLEASE find her a copy and mail it to her as it's not available in the UK. I'll be off Borders this afternoon - don't you just love book shops!!!!!!!

  17. The book sounds wonderful and I'm making my summer reading list now. Perfect timing!

  18. Hello Sarah, You did an beautiful job with all of your photos! What a nice book review! I really enjoyed your Pink Saturday and appreciate you leaving your kind comment on my "Patriots' Day" tablescape. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  19. What a wonderful reviews, and I love that the photos are mixed in-between your words. I lived in Asia for a while, and had the pleasure of having a few friends from Korea. One of my friends gave my daughter a Korean long dress. The book looks wonderful. I love reading books that describe food too.

  20. Beautiful post! I love your pictures and like Ruttabug...find it very soothing. Thanks for visiting Big Smiles and Bigger Hips!

  21. I'll have to read this one. I read a book just recently set in Japan and China and came away with a better appreciation of the countries and the cuisine. Very soothing photos set amongst the plants.

  22. Oh, Sarah! Your review of this book is wonderful! You sound like a school teacher who is luring me to read a wonderful book. I don't know much about the Orient myself and sounds like this book would be a little of an education for me.
    Thank you so much for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  23. Your book reviews are always such a feast for the eyes, Sarah!
    I'll have to seek this one out at B&N next week.

    Have a wonderful week!

  24. Sarah,
    how tantalising your description of this fascinating story is, enhanced by evocative photography and the chance to sit and have tea together. Bliss.
    How thrilling too, that the book's author visited you and left such a wonderful comment.
    Thanks, Teach.

  25. I noticed you liked my photos that Fifi Flowers shared in her pink post. lovely blog! and if you liked fifi flowers post on me you should visit my blog :-D

    xoxo bardot in blue

  26. I noticed you liked my photos that Fifi Flowers shared in her pink post. lovely blog! and if you liked fifi flowers post on me you should visit my blog :-D

    xoxo bardot in blue

  27. Sara, What a beautifully done post. Your photos and book review blended perfectly together. I see that you gave this book an excellent rating. I am going to suggest this at my next book club. Lovely, lovely post!

  28. Such a wonderful review! I loved hearing about this book! The so enjoyed hearing about this book, and the simply wonderful Tea you have in your garden to go along with this book. I always say a cup of tea and a good book is good for the soul! I do think books and Tea go together! Your Tea is so fitting! I love your Asian Teapot and cups! How you used the chop sticks! The flowers in the Tea cup! Just wonderful! I so enjoy your Teas! Thank yous so much for your sweet comment and for joining me for Tea Time Tuesday!

  29. Goodness, I've obviously dropped by on just the right day! What a wonderful post and such a gorgeous setting for an exceptionally interesting book.

  30. Sarah,
    Thank you for the wonderful book review! Your tea setting exudes tranquility. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Hi Sarah,
    It was so nice to have you stop by for a visit. I would be happy to have you join me for Tea Time Tuesday. All you need to do is add my button and link to your tea post and I will happily add your link to my post. There are any number of parties taking place these days and it's so much fun, isn't it? Wishing you a wonderful week.


  32. Thank you for visiting my blog Sarah and your book is on my holiday reading list.
    I love your photos and the way you display your items - very artistic.
    See you again

  33. I haven't heard of this book but it sounds amazing. You must have been truly inspired by it. Your tea looking just beautiful-I wish I could have joined you for a quiet afternoon of tea and reading!

    Best wishes until next time,dear Sarah.


  34. Sarah, This is a lovely tea! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Sarah, I purchased this book in softcover yesterday at Borders so will take it on the trip! We are advised to take two books as there will be downtime in the long afternoons between game rides. Of course I will also be keeping my journal and, if the afternoons warm up (it's early Winter), will perhaps take a dip in the pool.

    Thanks again for the review - I know it's a story I'll enjoy. I would like to know more about Korean culture - we have a family on our street who adopted two very adorable Korean children. I sometimes try little delicacies from a Korean grocery - the packaging is always so interesting!

    My second book will be John Shors 'Beside A Burning Sea' - set in the Pacific during WWII.
    If you haven't read his debut novel 'Beneath A Marble Sky' I highly recommend it - fabulous story and powerful writing, an exceptional work of fiction about the building of the Taj Mahal.

    Hugs - Mary

  36. Hi Sarah,
    A cup of tea with a good book in the garden, sounds heavenly! I am so happy to have you join me for Tea Time Tuesday and I wish you a beautiful day.


  37. Hello there sweet lady,

    My what a lovely post you have this week my dear! I love your book review, your pictures are simply suberb,and I also adore the the very idea and enjoyment of taking tea with a good book!..,

    Thank you so very much for joining my two teaparties this week; my 28th,'Tuesday Tea For Two' as well as my,'19th,'Wednesday Tea For Me And Thee', and for the thoughful and encouraging comments!

    Hugs from Wanda Lee

  38. Hi Sarah...

    I really do enjoy your book reviews, my friend! The Calligrapher's Daughter sounds like a very interesting read! I love historical novels and must admit that I do not know much about Korea's history either! What a great way to learn a little about the country's history and culture! And...you set a delightful tea! What a lovely post, sweet lady!

    I wanted to come by to thank you for your sweet note and well wishes for my Sunday Favorites "One Year" birthday celebration! I was just tickled pink to have you come by! Thank you, Sarah!!!

    Have a wonderful day and best wishes in the gift card giveaway!

    Chari @Happy To Design

  39. This book sound really good and I love your tea. So pretty and yummy looking. My mom and I share book lists so I'll be sending this recommendation to her. I'll have more time to read it in the summer.

  40. Thanks for your sweet visit -- yes, I love whimsy. I love your review of this book -- sounds like another one to add to my list!

  41. Sarah:

    You always do such an outstanding job of bringing a book review to life. Just lovely.

    - The Tablescaper

  42. Lovely blog... I have enjoyed my time here, and I’m glad I found you! The house in the roses is having a “Victorian Teacup Party” on Mother’s Day and I’m inviting you.... come see!


  43. Nice book review! I really like the photography and the way you framed the book pages with flowers, etc. such a nice touch!


  44. Sarah, you are so good at this. Every time you review a book and post your wonderful photos, I want to jump up and go read that book. You create such fabulous props to along with the book. I always enjoy seeing what you'll do with the next book. Hope your husband is doing well. laurie

  45. Oh my, I passed on this book at the store last week and now I wish I hadn't. Kindle here we come. What a wonderful image you painted of what I might feel as I read. Thank you!


Thank you to each of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and will respond to any questions. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.

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