Color of Water, The

The Color of Water - Ewha and Duksam

In the second volume of Kim Dong Hwa’s Colors trilogy, we see daughter Ewha truly coming of age. The early crushes of the first book are swept aside as we meet Duksam, a young labourer from a nearby village, who literally sweeps Ewha off her feet as they cross a swollen river. A bond forms between the two that seems destined to blossom into a beautiful relationship.

Standing in their way, however, is their innocence and inexperience. While her mother talks to her in nothing but floral pollination metaphors, her flighty friend Bongsoon provides a bit more of an insight into what a woman might feel during love-making.

Another problem arises when Ewha meets Duksam’s master. The young girl arouses feelings in the old man that have been absent from his life for years and he decides he should marry her as soon as possible. The local matchmaker is summoned to approach Ehwa’s mother for a price.

The Color of WaterThis continues the unspoken sexual juxtaposition between the two. While Ehwa is daydreaming of love and romance, her mother is still protecting her from the sidelines, keeping the real world of unsuitable men at bay to provide her with that all-important freedom.

The pastoral 19th century world they live in is idyllically illustrated. The women are surrounded by plants and nature, so it’s little surprise that they use such floral language. Railways and big cities now loom in the background though, as Ewha’s contemporaries are whisked away to become brides for the sons of unseen rich townies.

While some of this book is uncomfortable reading, and the language can border on heavy going, it remains a powerful journey into the romantic mind of women. The book’s setting leaves its characters with little to distract them from their chat and dreams of loves and losses, giving us fly-on-the-wall access to an intense and deeply cherished relationship.

Read more The Color Trilogy reviews:
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