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.