Uncle Hong-do arrives in Vermont from Korea to see the sister he has never met, a concert violinist long settled in the West. His colorful visit turns his teenage niece's world upside down, disrupting Anna's cozy existence with his eccentric ...
customs, forcing into it a fresh and intriguing tang of Korea. Then, too soon, he returns to Seoul. Years later, Anna, now an artist in Manhattan, finds herself in a state of Bohemian malaise--unhappy, aimless, uninspired, and mired in routine. She seeks to fill the void with an expedition to Korea, retracing her mother's journey in an effort to see my family undie. Her departure stirs up vivid, shocking memories for her mother, of her gilded childhood, and of her noble clan's fall from power. Long ago, her grandfather commanded his own private armies and owned vast estates across the country from north to south. In defiance of centuries of barbarous invasions--by the Japanese, Manchus, and finally the Communists--he built a temple high in the mountains and planted one thousand chestnut trees to shield it from view. Generations later, his trees call back his great-granddaughter Anna, who sets out with Uncle Hong-do to find the hidden temple and excavate from history the remains of her family's legacy. Mira Stout's debut novel has the sweep of a generational saga and the historical weight of grand epic. It is her great achievement to have captured the turbulent and largely unknown
century of Korean history with such elegance and assurance, all the while keeping the threads of this family tapestry firmly in hand.