Forge Your Own Book Club: The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae - Tor/Forge Blog
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Forge Your Own Book Club: The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae

Forge Your Own Book Club: The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae

The Picture Bride

By Ariana Carpentieri:

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to reflect on all you’re grateful for. And one of the things we’re most thankful for here at Forge is the existence of books like The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi; translated by An Seonjae. It’s a poignant story about the power of friendship that’ll fill you with hope as it takes your breath away. Both moving and uplifting, this is an incredibly fitting and timely story to read this month.

“Your husband is a landowner,” they told her.

“Food and clothing is so plentiful, it grows on trees.”

“You will be able to go to school.”

Of the three lies the matchmaker told Willow before she left home as a picture bride in 1918, the third hurt the most. Never one to be deterred, Willow does all that she can to make the best of her unexpected circumstance. But it isn’t long before her dreams for this new life are shattered, first by a husband who never wanted to marry her in the first place, and then by the escalation of the Korean independence movements, unified in goal, but divergent in action, which threaten to split the Hawaiian Korean community and divide Willow’s family and friends.

Braving the rough waters of these tumultuous years, Willow forges ahead, creating new dreams through her own blood, sweat, and tears; working tirelessly toward a better life for her family and loved ones.

The Picture Bride is the perfect pick for your next book club discussion. Here’s a breakdown on what to watch, what to eat, what to drink, what to listen to, and what to discuss while you read it!


What to Watch:

While similar in title, the film Picture Bride is also similar in content to the book The Picture Bride by Lee Geum-yi. After the main character’s father dies, she becomes the arranged wife of a migrant worker in Hawaii. She travels from Japan to the US, but finds it difficult adapting to the hard life of working on a sugar plantation and living with her new husband. During this time, she befriends another woman who also came over as a bride and is faced with the challenging task of evaluating where she truly belongs. 

What to Eat:

“They set down a bowl of bean paste stew in the middle of each table, and placed bowls of rice in front of each one. It was pure, white rice! In Korea, only the rich ate white rice, and Willow could not tear her eyes away. Her mouth was watering at the sight of the plentiful Korea-style dishes.” During the first meal eating with the bridegrooms at the inn, Willow was amazed at the sight of white rice on the table. So we think eating some steamed white rice would be a good meal to pair with this book–as a reminder that even the seemingly simple dishes are meaningful and to always be thankful for what you might consider to be the little things.

What to Drink:

Bubble Tea (also known as pearl milk tea, boba tea, or simply boba) is a drink that originate in Taiwan, but gained immense popularity in other countries such as Japan, China, and Korea. The tea is mixed with milk or fruits and topped off with chewy tapioca pearls. In recent years it has also gained popularity in the US, with many boba beverage franchises open across the country. We think grabbing one from your favorite local bubble tea shop would make for an excellent drink to sip on as you read (or you could even try your hand at making one from scratch at home!).

What to Listen to:

Since the brides in this book are originally from Korea, we think listening to Korean music while reading would be most fitting. BTS, a well-known South Korean band, has a playlist of softer songs that would make a great pairing as you sit and devour the immersive masterpiece that is The Picture Bride.

What to Discuss:

Download the The Picture Bride Reading Group Guide for insightful questions to get the discussion going!

Geum-Yi Picture Bride Reading Group Guide (1)

Click below to order your copy of The Picture Bride, available now!

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