Book Rating (97)
Narrator Rating (22)

The Island of Sea Women: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Jennifer Lim

13 Hours 22 Minutes

Simon & Schuster Audio

March 2019

Audio Book Summary


“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).

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  • Priscilla P.

    This novel, was touching in that it really captures the weight of living a hard life in hard times. Times made more heavy by being a woman. The women characters in this novel are all strong, sure, but even the weight of their own emotions, stubbornness, and choices forever altered their path in life. It is their vulnerability, failures and mistakes that make the characters so lovely, relatable and real.

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  • Ruth T.

    I didn't care for the send half. I found the hatred for Metta redundant

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  • Debra B.

    A really good historical book. I loved the strong women who speak their minds and learning about the diving collective. Plus I love being in the water and I could imagine being there.

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  • Joan W.

    Amazing look into a microculture fast disappearing

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  • Audra H.

    I couldn’t make it through the book. I can’t read about torture and abuse. The images live forever in my head. I had to stop reading.

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  • Cheryl Z.

    A very interesting and complicated story an area of the world I know so little about. There were a couple of times I had to stop listening because it was so brutal, humans can be truly awful to each other. But, I did finish the book and was glad I did. It’s a good life lesson in the end.

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  • Patricia J K.

    Great read. But at times, the text reading was just too fast. It almost sounded like a 33 rpm record being played on 45. I kept thinking there was something wrong with the settings but could find no way to make the reading a bit slower.

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  • Kathleen T.

    Love historical fiction. Great story and characters.

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  • Roz G.

    The narrator's voice didn't seem to fit the character. Interesting subject.

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