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The Starlet and the Spy: Book summary and reviews of The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee

The Starlet and the Spy

by Ji-min Lee

The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee X
The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2019
    192 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

A dazzling work of historical fiction, based on true events, about two women who seem the most unlikely to ever meet: Alice, a Korean war survivor and translator for the American forces in Seoul and Marilyn Monroe, who is visiting Korea on a four-day USO tour.

February 1954. Although the Korean War armistice was signed a year ago, most citizens of Seoul still battle to return to some semblance of normalcy. Conditions are dismal. Children beg for food, and orphanages are teeming. Alice J. Kim, a Korean translator and typist for the American forces still sanctioned in the city, yearns for the life she used to live before her country was torn apart.

Then Alice's boss makes an announcement—the American movie star Marilyn Monroe will be visiting Korea on a four-day USO tour, and Alice has been chosen as her translator. Though intrigued, Alice has few expectations of the job—what could she and a beautiful actress at the peak of her fame possibly have to talk about? Yet the Marilyn she meets, while just as dazzling and sensual as Alice expected, is also surprisingly approachable.

As Marilyn's visit unfolds, Alice is forced into a reckoning with her own painful past. Moving and mesmerizing, The Starlet and the Spy is a beautiful portrayal of unexpected kinship between two very different women, and of the surprising connections that can change, or even save, a life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This is a well-told historical snapshot, but at the center is the author's convincing portrayal of the pain Alice experiences. Lee's touching examination of the long shadow of a war cast over one woman will leave readers intensely moved." - Publishers Weekly

"An intermittently chaotic novel which manages to snatch poignancy from the jaws of cliché." - Kirkus Reviews

"This story of the unlikely meeting of two vulnerable women is a beautifully woven page turner. The battle-weary woman and the pin-up girl who meet, connect, separate: each changed by the brief union." - Heather Morris, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz

"The Starlet and the Spy is a quiet, luminous story of a woman piecing her soul together in the aftermath of war, heartbreaking and uplifting on every page." - Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

"This is a story about two women who have transcended time. Nobody has written about the tragedy of war with such imagination. It is wonderful and lively and sad and makes you nod in recognition." - Kyung-Sook Shin, New York Times bestselling author of Please Look After Mom

"The Starlet and the Spy explores war and survival, grief and guilt, and our complicated relationship with beauty. This poetically translated, richly imagined novel provides a moving, thought-provoking glimpse into a fascinating moment in history." - Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Race for Paris

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Author Information

Ji-min Lee

Ji-min Lee is a celebrated screenwriter in Korea and author of several novels.

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