Books, Gardens, Dogs
This Burns My Heart - Samuel Park Soo-Ja comes from a wealthy and traditional family in post-war South Korea and has her heart set on becoming a diplomat. She applies and is accepted by the school, but her father tells her that no self respecting family would ever consent to allow a daughter to move to Seoul and disgrace her family, thus crushing her dreams. She is now 22 and finishing school and is soon named an old maid when a suitor, Min, follows her and quickly proposes. She also meets another man, Yul, a medical student, to whom she is instantly attracted but feels he cannot move her to Seoul and follow her diplomatic dreams. She marries Min on the pretext that he is from a wealthy family and can take to Seoul where she can control him and follow her dreams. Things unravel on Soo-Ja's wedding night when Min confesses that he lied to her in order to get her to marry him. There is no money, he is a loser and she is destined to live a traditional life while her heart breaks. Soo-Ja shows incredible strength which only seems to grow as she is abused by her in laws, where they trick her family out of money, force her to do back breaking work and almost break her spirit.She suddenly wakes up when she runs into Yul and his wife at her hotel business and a small spark is rekindled between the two of them. I was cheering for Soo-Ja through much of the story and I felt so emotionally connected to her that I was sad when the story ended. Of course, I disliked Min, but overall, the tradition that controlled these characters made me understand his actions a bit better and made him a bit more sympathetic. The relationship between Yul and Soo-Ja also made you root for them to reconnect. Yul's wife Eun-Mee quickly becomes a match for Min in the low integrity department when she stays one step ahead of Soo-Ja and ruins Soo-Ja chances for financial prosperity by borrowing money from a friend that Soo-Ja had planned on asking. You need to read the story to find out how it ends. This story of reconnection and true love is a wonderful debut and I would love to read more from this author. It reminded me of when I first read Lisa See's work and how she combined history with incredibly believable characters and a storyline that was truly plausible.

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