Your audiobook is waiting…

The Island of Sea Women

A Novel
By: Lisa See
Narrated by: Jennifer Lim
Length: 13 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,327 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times best-selling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous, physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story - one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them - The Island of Sea Women introduces listeners to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.

©2019 Lisa See (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Jennifer Lim underscores the multiple layers of this audiobook about two friends who grew up in Jeju Island, Korea...  Lim's expressive delivery highlights protagonist Young-sook's personality and complex feelings... Lim's clear and sensitive portrayals, complete with believable accents, make it easy for listeners to keep track of the characters." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    853
  • 4 Stars
    344
  • 3 Stars
    103
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    9

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    872
  • 4 Stars
    238
  • 3 Stars
    86
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    10

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    798
  • 4 Stars
    292
  • 3 Stars
    97
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    9
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Overly dramatic read

I love Lisa See\s stories and this one is no exception. However the read on this is too dramatic. It takes away from the story. The readers diction is great and she pronounces the Korean well but I really would like to hear this read with a softer style.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful historical fiction

Reading this is a captivating way to learn about a matriarchal society that most westerners are not familiar with. I will remember and ponder this story for a long time.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I get the point

I love Lisa See's books and always learn something new. In this case it is two-fold: the Haenyeo culture and the political times of Korea in the 40's. I had to finally turn it off after it went on and on (and on and on) in great detail of the violence that ensued as a result of the political climate for which the story takes place. I just could not listen any more. Enough! Point taken. Unfortunately with audio books, you can't just "skim" to get past certain parts without the risk of losing a significant part of the plot.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Just missed being great.

I have read a number of books by Lisa See and have always enjoyed them greatly, while learning a lot. This one didn't hit the same note. At times it felt like a history text book, not a novel. Yes, horrible things occurred at the hands of foreign governments, and we all need to know that and remember it. But I often felt like I was listing to a mandatory lecture for a school credit. And it is difficult in an audio book to just skim sections, although I did hit the 30 second forward on my Apple app a few times. Also, the narration wasn't pleasing. Finally, reading the book in print might improve the experience. I found it difficult to keep characters names straight.

However, I loved the introduction to a female centered society.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

1st Review in 15 years!

I've been a member of Audible for more than 15 years and I have not been touched so deeply by a book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration was so bad I didn’t finish

This seems like a good book to read. The narrator was a terrible choice for this book. Somehow a New Jersey(ish) twang doesn’t fly with this novel. The story was interesting though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Powerful Story but felt flat

This is a fascinating story based on true women sea divers. This, along with a lot of Korean history make for an excellent book. But alas for me the writing falls flat. Huge dramatic moments did not carry me away. I shed no tears. Also too much predictability. But I still recommend reading this as there is plenty to think about and to discuss. It held my attention throughout, though I admit I fast forwarded through some of the violent parts.
I did not like the narrator. I felt like she was reading for a young adult book. I may have liked this better with a different narrator.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Anthropologists Dream

Really beautiful story of female strength within a sisterhood of divers. I wasn't too familiar with the history of Korea so getting bits and pieces of history while reading was really great and had me googling a lot as I went through the book. These women are an Anthropologists dream! So interesting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Reads like an ethnography or historical account

The book was well researched and writing was good, but I could not find the heart of the story. Too many tedious details about the events of the war. The details are important, but I'd rather read about it in a non-fiction book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

"To understand is to forgive"

Absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. Lisa See's stories always so refreshing. Friendship, hardship, love, suffering, disappointed and more in one book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful