Book Review: “Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story” by William Andrews

Oct 15 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2876 Views • 1 Comment on Book Review: “Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story” by William Andrews

DragonSynopsis from Goodreads:

DURING WORLD WAR II, the Japanese forced 200,000 young Korean women to be sex slaves or “comfort women” for their soldiers. This is one woman’s riveting story of strength, courage and promises kept.

In 1943, the Japanese tear young Ja-hee and her sister from their peaceful family farm to be comfort women for the Imperial Army. Before they leave home, their mother gives them a magnificent antique comb with an ivory inlay of a two-headed dragon, saying it will protect them. The sisters suffer terribly at the hands of the Japanese, and by the end of the war, Ja-hee must flee while her sister lies dying. Ja-hee keeps her time as a comfort woman a secret while she struggles to rebuild her life. She meets a man in North Korea who shows her what true love is. But the communists take him away in the middle of the night, and she escapes to the South. There, she finally finds success as the country rebuilds after the Korean War. However when her terrible secret is revealed, she’s thrown into poverty. In the depths of despair, she’s tempted to sell the comb with the two-headed dragon that she believes has no magic for her. Then one day she discovers its true meaning and her surprising heredity. And now she must find the only person who can carry on the legacy of the two-headed dragon… someone she abandoned years ago.

Set within the tumultuous backdrop of 20th century Korea, Daughters of the Dragon by Mayhaven Award-winning author William Andrews will make you cry and cheer for Ja-hee. And in the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the Land of the Morning Calm.

Daughters of the Dragon is inspired by The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, Memiors of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, the books of Amy Tan and Lisa See.

My Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued when I read the synopsis of this book. I had never heard of “comfort women”, nor the horrible torture inflicted upon them by the Japanese army during WWII. In fact, I knew nothing of the Japanese occupation of Korea at all.

Ja-hee’s story is compelling, but there were a lot of factors that diminished my ability to stay engaged in the book:

* The secondary story of Ja-hee’s granddaughter, who had been adopted by an American couple, and is listening to Ja-hee’s story, didn’t particularly interest me. I found the interruption from Ja-hee’s story almost irritating. I know that the author has a personal connection to overseas adoption, but in this particular case, this plot point just didn’t seem to fit.

* The lack of attention to historical language was also distracting. For example, I can’t see a Korean woman in the 1940s referring to “condoms”, “abortion” or “rape.” I would think there would be some euphemism used, if they had to be used at all. I can’t claim to know this for certain, but it seemed very out of place.

* The story of the two-headed dragon with five toes also seemed somewhat out of place, although in that case, I’m not sure why, and so I won’t elaborate.

All of that being said, I still believe that the book is worth reading: this is a piece of history of which I think most readers would have no knowledge. More of us should know it.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

 

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One Response to Book Review: “Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story” by William Andrews

  1. Ashley J. Song says:

    Despite what you may think, Korea wasn’t some illiterate, sexually repressed backwater prior to US military intervention. Women do not need (and certainly did not need merely 70 years ago) euphemisms to refer to a crime as old as patriarchy, or a medical procedure which has been in practice in Asia for literally thousands of years. The experience of so-called “comfort women” is one of terrible abuse, sexual, reproductive, physical, and otherwise — to have clothed it in orientalistic euphemisms (I mean, what do you expect, “He folce himelfu onto me, I didu notu wantu”?) would have been incredibly insulting.

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