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All Woman and Springtime Hardcover – May 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616200774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616200770
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Debut novelist Jones conducts a compelling psychological tour of life inside the socially and politically restrictive borders of North Korea via the poignant stories of two young girls on the cusp of womanhood. Gi, a mathematical genius compelled to keep her gifts hidden, nevertheless survives the seemingly inescapable brutality and drudgery of her existence by quietly exercising the life of the mind. When Gi meets the lushly beautiful Il-sun in an orphanage, the two girls forge a strong, immutable bond. They eventually escape but are then sold into sex slavery first in South Korea and later in the U.S., and it’s not difficult to guess who will flame out and who will triumph. This tale of female friendship is distinguished by its illuminating glimpse into the arcane intricacies of both an ancient and a modern culture. Guaranteed to appeal to fans of Memoirs of a Geisha (1997) and the novels of Lisa See. --Margaret Flanagan

Review


“A gripping novel.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

“The North Korean government exploits its citizens completely and absolutely, and Brandon W. Jones has taken this as a starting point for a first novel that seems more like the polished work of an experienced novelist . . . Jones' writing provides a sense of urgency -- we want these women to leave, to risk everything in trying to escape their country and find a new life . . . His effort proves up to the challenge of vividly depicting the harsh, terrible circumstances and also believably gives hope that the individualist spark can sometimes carry us through to better things.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“An eye-opening journey to the dark side of desire.”—Vogue.com

“Lifting the veil on a little-known country, Brandon W. Jones’s debut novel, All Woman and Springtime, tells the story of two North Korean teenagers escaping the authoritarian state and battling the modern-day slave trade.”—National Geographic Traveler

“[A] moving, heartbreaking, yet hopeful novel . . . This important story exposes startling acts of human cruelty and uncovers the amazing resiliency of the human being, mind and body.”—Salt Lake City Weekly

“A compelling psychological tour of life inside the socially and politically restrictive borders of North Korea via the poignant stories of two young girls on the cusp of womanhood . . . This tale of female friendship is distinguished by its illuminating glimpse into the arcane intricacies of both an ancient and a modern culture. Guaranteed to appeal to fans of Memoirs of a Geisha (1997) and the novels of Lisa See.”—Booklist

“[A] terrifying and masterfully realized debut . . . One of its most impressive achievements is the rendering of main character Gi, who is brought powerfully and beautifully to life . . . Jones depicts both the innocence of his protagonist and the pathologies and violence of the South Korean underworld with great skill and emotional power. VERDICT Impossible to put down, this work is important reading for anyone who cares about the power of literature to engage the world and speak its often frightening truths.”—Library Journal

“Dramatic . . . [A] well-paced story.”—Publishers Weekly


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
21
4 star
15
3 star
7
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See all 45 customer reviews
This book was a great read starting from the first page.
Sabine
The descriptions of life in North Korea are fascinating and so well written I could easily imagine it.
C. L. Mitchell
The stories of other characters are skillfully woven throughout.
Kim Overstreet

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Brad on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jones's remarkable fictional debut, ALL WOMAN AND SPRINGTIME, left me wide eyed and wondering, "How, exactly, did this thirty-something, first-time author -- apparently writing out of his remote home on the Hawaiian island of Molokai -- ever manage to create such a believable and gritty narrative about young, female factory workers from the ever-opaque North Korea? I'll probably never have an answer to that, but however he pulled it off, he certainly succeeded! From the first page, I felt that dark curtains had been pulled back, revealing the protagonists' blindly delusional patriotism, and how that impacted their youthful yearning for love and freedom. This novel -- at times quite graphic -- may not be for the feint of heart. That said, it is a deeply moving story about friendship, perseverance, love, and redemption. I'd recommend it to anyone, regardless of gender.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By pierce scranton on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
How do you critique a lightning bolt out of the blue sky? How do you critique genius? So here's this guy, living a very retro life in a totally rope-belt and tire-tread for sandals life in Molokai. He developes a most amazing empathetic construct of characters hammered against a cold, rigid totalitarian state you can imagine. A ruthless, selfish warped social construct of female explotation violating the essence of relationships and sexuality, and finally at the tragic and heart-warming conclusion, a damaged soul finds herself improbably in a society that accepts and recognizes her values. How do you critique this? How did he do it?

Brandon Jones goes where no one really wants to go. He creates beautiful damaged people, awakening to their sense of self, their sexuality and the conflict with a rigid, perverted ruthless dictatorship. Throw in the horrible abuse of trust, the vulturistic preying upon naivety and the ruined lives trying to express the longing for a relationship, and Jones shows us life inside the dictatorship of North Korea. Youth, expression, wants and yearning cannot be denied in this totalitarian regime, to the detriment of those who for a moment reveal their inner self. And they are preyed upon by a subculture that twists their yearning into crimminal enterprise. White slavery. Take everything sacred about the relationship of love and trust between a man and a woman, and now pervert it into explotation - a disturbing submersion into the distorted world of pornography, of the dehumanization of women where false gratification in the act of sex is the end-all of the human relationship.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Brandon Jones' debut novel follows two orphaned girls through their brutal upbringing in a North Korean factory, across the North and South Korean borders into a sex trafficking market that spans from the Orient to the United States. This profound and shocking story presents a poignant psychological and political portrait of the many forms of human imprisonment.

ALL WOMAN AND SPRINGTIME is a serious, well-written, starkly affecting novel that is thoughtful on many levels --- human, philosophical and political. The book presents a distinct picture of the propaganda machine" of North Korea, showing visions of a "utopian" socialist society that has failed completely, transformed into a brutal totalitarian regime. North Korean citizens serve what amounts to a life sentence, and two girlfriends who've been orphaned at the hands of the North Korean government live as "Chosun" by the savage grace of their "Dear Leader," Kim Il-sung. This dictator allows his people extremely limited privileges that include simple survival, daily reprieve from physical and psychological torture --- provided his workers perform up to standards --- and the simple ability to eat reasonably well as long as everyone remains strictly obedient to whatever he desires and thinks.

The two girls who form the subject of this novel are close friends from the orphanage where they grew up. Gyong-ho and Il-Sun were slaves to their own government long before they were sold into the sex slave market. Like all citizens, they have learned since birth to prostrate to their leader, carry mementos of worship that liken him to a god, and labor even as children. Kept under lock and key, they are possessions. The psychological component of their suffering is complex and varies with the many kinds of imprisonment they face.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
North Korea is a place of severe hardship, where food is in very short supply and the hierarchy of life is a given. The life of the people in North Korea is known as Chosun and Songbun is their status. "Juche was the cornerstone on which the great Chosun nation was founded. It was a philosophy of self-sufficiency and cultural superiority - the ideal socialism". All the citizens are expected to worship the Great Leader and not prostrating oneself in front of a photograph of him is enough to be sent to jail. If the photographs are hung up unevenly or not dusted well enough, that too is enough to be jailed. The people all know that their country is lacking in food and work but they must pretend that things are okay. It is a life of pretense and fear. "The facade of the functioning of the state was more important than the well-being of the people."

This is a novel of fear and totalitarianism. It is the story of white slavery and the abuse of women by those in power. It is an eye-opening novel of a nation's terrorism and sadism toward people who do not act the right way.

It is also the story of Gyong-Ho and Il-Sun, two seventeen year-old women who have been together in an orphanage since they were children. There they had little to eat and few possessions. They worked in a factory sewing clothes and had no right to expect to advance further than this though Il-Sun wants more for herself. Il-Sun is very outgoing and beautiful while Gyong-Ho is a savant with number, craving to learn about the physical world. They end up being traded into the world of sex slavery.

The book is somewhat simplified in its writing, as though it were written down so that it could attract a larger audience. I felt that there was a young adult feel to the writing though the subjects and themes of the book are very adult.
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