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'Look for your sister after each dive. Never forget. If you see her, you are safe.'
Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea.
One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day's catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore.
So begins the story of two sisters suddenly and violently separated by war. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war.
A riveting, immersive read in the vein of The Kite Runner and Memoirs of a Geisha.
Mary Lynn Bracht is an American author of Korean descent who now lives in London. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. She grew up in a large ex-pat community of women who came of age in post-war South Korea. In 2002 Bracht visited her mother's childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the `Comfort Women' captured and set up in brothels for the Japanese military. White Chrysanthemum is her first novel.