The Calligrapher's Daughter

  • by Eugenia Kim
  • Narrated by Jane McDowell
  • 14 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

1915. Japanese-occupied Korea. Najin Han, the privileged daughter of a calligrapher, longs to choose her own destiny. When her traditional father seeks to marry her into an aristocratic family, her mother defies generations of obedient wives and instead sends Najin to serve in the King's court as a companion to a young princess. But the King is assassinated, and the centuries-old dynastic culture comes to an end.


What the Critics Say

"A beautiful, deliberate and satisfying story spanning thirty years of Korean history . . . Elegant." (Publishers Weekly)
"Exquisite ... hauntingly beautiful ... from the first gripping sentence you'll fear coming to the final sentence of this fascinating debut." (The Examiner)
"Kim has excelled at portraying Najin as a spirited yet loyal daughter and wife while exposing a tragic time during Korea's sustained history as a nation." (Library Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Set during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) Najin’s upper class family has to endure a lot of hardship. She is caught between her father’s old Confucian ideas of a woman’s place and the more liberal opportunities offered through education from Christian missionary schools during the occupation. Her father struggles to adapt to a new era as his aristocratic lifestyle turns to dust and his name means nothing under foreign rule.

Yes I felt frustrated with Najin's father’s patriarchic attitude and had to remind myself that these were different times. But the story itself is fascinating. The storyline moves at a gentle pace. It's about endurance and respect and doing one's duty as we follow the family from Najin's childhood to the end of the war when she is a married woman.

It's obviously more difficult to narrate a story with foreign words and characters. And the narrator did not seem to be familiar with the romanisation system of Korean and so there are some pronunciation issues. That's just a small point though. Overall I enjoyed listening to this book.
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- Kari

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2014
  • Publisher: Oakhill Publishing