Mia doesn’t have the easiest start in life. Living in Seoul, South Korea, she is the child of an English woman, uninspiring to her Korean stepmother. Her split nationality makes her almost dirty to those around her, but she defies the odds and people’s conceptions to become a translator at the British Embassy.
Her uncle runs a school for North Korean defectors, which is viewed controversially by others. One day, he brings a defector to their home, traumatised after his flatmate killed himself and in need of shelter and protection. He is quiet, secretive and disappears for prolonged periods of time, yet Mia barely notices his oddities.
Instead, she is almost consumed by the self-destructive, married, alcoholic diplomat Thomas. Their paths inadvertently cross outside of work through a chance encounter and case of drink-driving, and their relationship is taken to another level. Where she at first comes off as obsessive, she finally hooks him in, and an audit he is given forces him to call into question everything he knows about her.
It might seem too much plot to unravel, but really these are just the bare essentials. The twists and turns keep you hooked, without a doubt. Such a brilliant story. It deals heavily with the politics of a new government who border a dictatorship, the potential of war with their Northern counterparts, and the struggles that lie in there.
There’s love, betrayal, disenchantment with marriage, treason, years of handling deception and loss, and attempts to free oneself of personal burden. Despite her over-anaylsis of Thomas initially feeling a little obsessive, their relationship, especially in line with their complicated surroundings, is a real hook.
Really, really, liked this book. There’s so much going on, completely and utterly compelling, and it’s something different. What a debut!
Pub: 2 Jan 2014 | Quercus Books