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The Voices of Heaven (Book) Review

 
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At a Glance...
 

Page Count: 305
 
Genre:
 
Year Published:
 
Final Score
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/ 5


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An engaging tale of love and life in Seoul during the Korean War.

Not so much?


To modern readers, there will definitely be some culture shock as readers learn the traditions of the time.


Final Fiendish Findings?

From the marriage traditions at the time, to the dynamics within families, The Voices of Heaven gives a realistic look at growing up in Seoul during the time before and after the Korean War. It’s a love story at its heart, of two people in love who try desperately not to be torn apart by their duty to produce a son. More than that, though, it’s a look at the people of Korea during a difficult time, and it’s truly a fascinating look at their culture.

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Posted January 2, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Author Maija Rhee Devine takes readers deep into the cultures and traditions of Korea with her unique love story, The Voices of Heaven.

The Voices of Heaven is set in Seoul during the Korean War. It was a time of tragedy and confusion, but also a time deeply set in Confucian traditions. It is this duty to tradition that will force another woman into a marriage cemented by deep love – a rare thing in a country and time where most marry without ever having seen their prospective spouse. Nonetheless, Eum-chun and Gui-yong have found great love and happiness in their marriage to each other, and have spent fifteen wonderful years together. Sadly, Eum-chun cannot bear her husband a son, and tradition demands that he carry on his line or be denied his right to a place in the afterlife.

And so, Gui-yong must take a second wife. At twenty-five, Soo-yang had given up on finding a husband. Even though tradition demands Gui-yong take on a second wife to carry on his line, becoming that second wife is seen as something shameful. But Soo-yang resolves to make the best of it, hoping to earn a small place in the household and be dutiful to her husband, sister wife, and mother in law as they all settle in together. Eum-chun and Gui-yong’s secretly adopted daughter, Mi-na, is not so sure about the arrival of Little Mommy, but soon the situation in the country makes family dynamics take a backseat to war.

The Voices of Heaven is a wonderful look inside a culture rarely seen so clear in Western literature. From traditions of marriage to male/female dynamics to family relationships, this is a book that lays it out just like it was, providing a fascinating look at life during the Korean War. The book alternates between the characters of Soo-yang, Mi-na, Gui-yong, and Eum-chun, giving a nicely rounded look at various situations from their different viewpoints. Life as a man in 1950’s Korea was quite different than that of a woman, and there is a world of difference between a first wife and a second as well. At the center is young Mi-na, who feels great guilt at not having been born a male. The book spans decades, but for the most part takes places between around 1950-1960.

The Voices of Heaven offers an in-depth look into a culture that most Westerners are unfamiliar with. From the marriage traditions at the time, to the dynamics within families, The Voices of Heaven gives a realistic look at growing up in Seoul during the time before and after the Korean War. It’s a love story at its heart, of two people in love who try desperately not to be torn apart by their duty to produce a son. More than that, though, it’s a look at the people of Korea during a difficult time, and it’s truly a fascinating look at their culture.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)