The calligrapher’s daughter – a review

Title: The calligrapher’s daughter

Author: Eugenia Kim London : Bloomsbury, 2010                                                

Sarah’s Pick

The story begins in a village in Korea in 1915. It continues throughout the years of Japanese occupation and World War Two and ends in 1945.

The main character is Najin, daughter of a famous calligrapher. She has a free spirit but it is not a time and place where women can control their destiny; instead they are expected to obey their father, brother or husband.Najin has an interesting life. Her formal education begins in a missionary school. At the conclusion of her schooling at the age of 14 her father plans an arranged marriage however his wife defies him and sends Najin away to a relative who serves in the King’s court.

Najin becomes a companion to the young princess, until the King is murdered and the dynasty comes to an end. Najin goes on to further study and works as a teacher. Later she does agree to get married but her husband leaves for America a day after the wedding and Najin is unable to join him and doesn’t hear from him for many years.

As the Japanese take over the country and try to destroy its culture Najin’s family suffers greatly. She is imprisoned as a spy and later the family is forced to leave the home their ancestors lived in for more than five hundred years.  Times are hard during the war but the novel comes to a satisfying conclusion with the return of Najin’s husband and Japan’s surrender.