Thursday, March 26, 2009

50 - Honolulu; Alan Brennert

Honolulu is a story about a young Korean girl born in 1897. Her parents were so disappointed she was not a boy, that they named her: "Regrettable”; eventually her name was shortened to simply "Regret". Her name alone gives the reader a glimpse into how females were viewed in turn-of-the (20th) century Korea.
As Regret grows up, she realizes that if she stays in Korea, her fate has pretty much been decided. More likely than not, she would have an arranged marriage, and be little more than a servant to her mother-in-law, just like her mother. When Regret tells her father she already knows how to read a bit (having learned behind his back), and that she wishes to continue her education her father will hear nothing of the kind. When her close friend Sunny tells her about someone who finds picture brides for men in Hawaii to marry, Regret decides that this just may be her ticket out of Korea to a better life in Hawaii. Regret's father is only to happy to release his insolent daughter, so he agrees to take money from a man named Mr. Noh, and ships her off to Honolulu for the two to marry.
After more than a week at sea the picture brides land in Honolulu. They are quarantined, in case they brought any diseases with them from Korea. When they are medically cleared the girls meet their husbands, get married and before long they learn that these men were not "as advertised". Regret's husband is not wealthy by merely a plantation worker who likes to drink and gamble. Almost immediately he begins to abuse his new wife, Regret. Mr. Noh beats Regret so badly that she loses her unborn child. Very quickly she decides this life is not for her and she leaves her husband, seeking refuge under the roof of a prostitute. She soon begins earning money as a seamstress. She changes her name from Regret to Jin and she eventually meets a good man, and divorces Mr. Noh.
Spanning some 40 years, Jin never forgets the people she left behind in Korea. She returns one last time to her roots to make peace with the life she left behind many years earlier.
Honolulu was very compelling and extremely well researched. I especially enjoyed learning more about Hawaii (Honolulu) in its early years through the eyes of a picture bride. Alan Brennert has been added to my list of favorite authors. His earlier book Molokai was a favorite read of mine in 2008.
RATING – 4.5/5 - COMPLETED - 3/26/09


  1. Interesting, I think I will put this book on my TBR list :)

  2. Hi Diane :)

    I am going to add this title to my wish list. I like Asian novels or memoirs aspecially concerning women around the world.
    I am reading THE LAND OF INVISIBLE WOMEN and see that worldwide we women still have a long way to go.
    By the way I highly recommendthis book, it is an eye opener on Soudi Arabia which is supposed to be more open, not so!

    Have a very nice week-end and thank-you for your comment about my photos :D

  3. I loved Moloka'i too and am excited about reading this one. I'm trying to be good though and hold off getting a copy until it's in paperback. It's so hard though! I am glad you enjoyed it, Diane. Wonderful review.

  4. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this. I have a copy but haven't found the chance to read it yet. I am looking forward to getting to it soon. Great review!

  5. Although this novel is not as memorable as "Molokai'i" it is a beautiful read and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't wait for Brennert's next offering!


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