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Chang-rae Lee, the bestselling and award-winning author of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft returns with his most ambitious novel yet-a spellbinding story of how love and war echo through an entire lifetime.
June Han was orphaned as a girl by the Korean War. Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage, where they vied for the attention of Sylvie Tanner, a beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary.
As Lee masterfully unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another.
pages to a photograph of the author, a young-looking man with muttonchops and a gold watch chain on his suit vest. Opposite was the title page, twice inscribed, as he’d seen, and June seemed to linger on the handwriting, her expression one of confusion. Finally she caressed the page as if it were the cheek of an infant. With hardly any difficulty she stood up before the large window, her hands braced against the wide marble sill. In the framed vista the church at the top of the hill gleamed in
the landing and down the steep steps of the tower; he was a world-class sprinter, at such distances. As he rounded the corner he caught sight of her ruined silhouette, halted at the end of the landing with her hands outstretched like a flightless bird, her desperate apologies echoing down the stone well of the tower after him, and though he felt ashamed for the velocity of this easy escape he kept going, his rage making him want to punish her. Downstairs, in the bar that doubled as the hotel
spearing up around the chimney pipe on the roof above the chapel. “My God,” Sylvie said, getting to her feet. “The children!” Though faltering, she ran to the chapel. Tanner went after her. Some of the children were already fleeing the building, smoke billowing from the top of the chapel door, oozing out from under the eaves. None of them could see it yet but the flames inside were spreading quickly, flying through the parched wood of the old structure, and by the time Sylvie reached the main
life, and certainly would not be now. She said to Clines, “So it’s good that you found Hector Brennan last week.” Clines nodded, clearing his throat. His face soured, as though he could not agree with her less. “Where does he live, exactly?” “In New Jersey. Fort Lee.” June’s pulse suddenly spiked with the notion; all these years she’d assumed, for no reason, that Hector was still somewhere in the North-west, or maybe in Canada or Mexico, or else gone back to his home-town somewhere in upstate
a service now we’d have to use oil lamps, or candles.” “This wasn’t meant to be anything but another storage room. And a windbreak.” “What do you think we should do?” He didn’t know, but he felt as though he suddenly did care, if only because she was here, away from everyone else, within his reach. She said, still holding her brush, “How much paint do you have?” “There’s plenty. But it’s all that same color.” She looked about for a moment, then took some broad swipes at the wall, down and