“On the boat we often wondered: Would we like them? Would we love them?
Would we recognize them from their pictures when we first saw them on the dock?”
This provocative novel tells the story of a group of young women coming from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.
Julie Otsuka’s luminous prose shares collective impressions of the women’s first glimpses of their new husbands-often to their dismay. The reality of the men’s appearance and demeanor compared to the pictures they had been sent was beyond disheartening!
The author’s direct and powerful writing style in these entwined tales subtly augments the stark reality of the women continuing their lives in this new world and their struggles with a new language and culture so different from where they grew up.
Gloriously revealing a sense of time and place for the “brides” experiences ranging from their journey on the boat on through to the arrival of war with Japan in the United States, Otsuka’s book has so many moments which haunt you. Especially startling for me were recounts of the women’s first nights as newlyweds to men they do not know.
Also, don’t miss the author’s debut novel, When the Emperor was Divine, which follows the lives of Japanese-Americans as they are forced into internment camps during WWII.