4 out of 4 stars
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Pejay Bradley was born in Seoul, South Korea, and came to the United States where she practised law in Florida. This poignant historical fiction book is written by her. This page-turner is about the struggle of South Korea under Japanese rule in the 20th century.
In part one, the book opens up with a delightful woman who has just given birth to a baby boy. This woman is Lady Sougyon, a daughter of Prince Aansoon, meaning she is of a higher class in society. But her life is not perfect, her husband is a gambler and doesn’t stay at home, embarrassing her and her father. They can’t do anything about this as divorce is seen as a disgrace, so they are forced to put up with his bad behaviour. In part three of the book, Embon the son of Lady Sougyon has grown to be this intelligent child who excels in his classes, and now he has been accepted into one of the prestigious universities in Japan and he is delighted to go there. At the university, that’s where he is exposed to the politics of his country. Because South Korea is under Japanese rule, South Koreans are marginalised and oppressed by the Japanese government. Embon befriends three intelligent fellows South Koreans in the university who are devoted to bringing freedom to South Korea. Through this friendship, Embon develops a passion for fighting for his nation.
The trio gets in trouble with the authorities, and they separate. Embon is back at home healing from the torture he endured under the police interrogation when he was arrested. After healing, his mother wants him to marry even though he is not interested. The woman his mother deems suited for him is coming from an interesting family — her father, Mr Seoh, is also in the fight to liberate his country but he is not that active compared to his friend, who is also working with Embon’s close friends from university. Will Embon get reunited with his friends in the struggle through this arranged marriage of his? And if he does, what would be his role in the struggle? Is he also prepared to live in exile and do dangerous work in fighting for his people’s freedom? Quench your curiosity by reading The Vanished by Pejay Bradley.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was beautifully written in a free-flowing English that wasn’t challenging to grasp. The pace was steady, I was gently and magically wafted into this dark era in South Korea, where people were not free and their human rights were abused. The author did an outstanding job in penning this work of fiction which is based on real history, and for that I commend her. This book has made me research more about The First Sino-Japanese War and other big wars in Asia, so I can say that this was such an educative read. The Vanished is written in both the first-person and the second-person narrative because the perspective was switching from character to character throughout the book. The author managed to give the backstory of each character in such a creative way. I also appreciate how the book was well organised into five parts, its presentation was just outstanding.
Mr Seoh, Embon’s father-in-law, was an interesting character in this book. He was working for a big Japanese bank in South Korea and had a steady income to feed his family. So when his friend came to recruit him in fighting for his country, he was conflicted. Yes, he also wanted South Korea to be free from Japanese rule but at the same time, he had a big family that relied on him. Other readers might be against his decision and call him cowardice but I am not because he was also working with his fellow countrymen when he didn’t report their plans to the authorities when they shared them with him. So Mr Seoh was also patriotic, just in an unconventional way. I just hope that they don’t judge him too harshly.
There are multiple scenes of suicide bombings; they are not too graphic as their descriptions were not detailed. There is nothing I disliked about this book, so I joyfully rate it a full 4 out of 4 stars. I came across no grammatical and typographical errors, proofing that it was professionally edited. The book also contains no profane language and sexual scenes, so both the old and the young are accommodated. People who are interested in politics and are into the history of Asia are people I recommend this book to. Arranged marriage, oppression, police brutality, government’s censorship are themes this book covers.
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