The Island of Sea Women

Author(s): Lisa See

Staff Picks- Read our reviews below



"A mesmerizing new historical novel" (O, The Oprah Magazine) from Lisa See, the bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and devastating family secrets on a small Korean island.


Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village's all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook's mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility--but also danger.


Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The Island of Sea Women takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.


"This vivid...thoughtful and empathetic" novel (The New York Times Book Review) illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge and the men take care of the children. "A wonderful ode to a truly singular group of women" (Publishers Weekly), The Island of Sea Women is a "beautiful story...about the endurance of friendship when it's pushed to its limits, and you...will love it" (Cosmopolitan).

~ Jeju is an island at the mouth of the strait between Korea and Japan, so it was strategically important during the Japanese colonisation, World War Two and the Korean War. Centuries ago a matriarchal society developed there where the Haenyo women collected creatures of the sea while the men looked after the children. This novel follows the lives of two Haenyo as they manage their way through these tumultuous times. The description of the diving is absolutely mesmerising. It takes you down and away from the grim reality of life on the island. Youg-Sook, the narrator leads an astounding life. This book is an incredibly interesting and very satisfying interweaving of family and history. Blokes don't come off too well though. - David


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9781471183836
  • : Scribner
  • : Scribner
  • : June 2020
  • : ---length:- '7.795'width:- '5.118'units:- Inches
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Lisa See
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 813.6
  • : 384