I am a sucker for love stories, and a sucker for one-choice-changes-everything stories. When I read this review of Samuel Park’s This Burns My Heart—one of the featured novels in our debut roundup—I knew I had to get my hands on it because it fits into both of those categories.
I interviewed Park about the novel, and here’s a plot summary, in his own words: “A young woman marries the wrong man and learns to live with the consequences of that choice.” He thinks of his novel as “Pride and Prejudice in South Korea.” In her effusive review, Rebecca Shapiro says it’s “a love story so simple and universal that, in many ways, it could be set anywhere.”
The story begins in South Korea of the 1960s, when Soo-Ja Choi—who dreams of being a diplomat—realizes that she married the wrong man. She felt trapped by custom to marry an appropriate suitor . . . but she is actually in love with Yul, a handsome acquaintance.
Here’s an excerpt, to give you a taste of Park’s lovely writing:
Soo-Ja’s heart leapt and then sunk. But she knew that she had no right to be disappointed. She was the one who turned away from him when he asked her to marry him, who refused when he first held out his hand and said, Try me, and be happy.
“Chamara, Soo-Ja. Chamara,” said Yul. Chamara. What is the word that comes closest to it? Soo-Ja wondered. To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? There is no other word for it, no way to translate it. It is not a word. It is a way to console yourself. He is not just telling her to stand the pain, but giving her comfort, the power to do so. Chamara is an incantation, and if she listens to its sound, she believes that she can do it, that she will push through this sadness. And if she is strong about it, she’ll be rewarded in the end. It is a way of saying, I know, I feel it, too. This burns my heart, too.
Want to read more? Enter to win your own copy by following these directions:
TO ENTER: Leave a comment with the name of your favorite unrequited/tragic/or otherwise heartwrenching love story.
CONTEST DETAILS: The prize is a hardcover of This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park. One winner will be chosen using random.org from among the responses sent by 5 p.m. Central Time on August 5. Prizes must be shipped to a North American address.
ETA: Congrats to our winner, Lynn! Her heart-wrenching pick of the summer is One Summer by David Baldacci. She says, “It touches your heart!”
Contest is now closed.