Narrated By: Janet Song
Duration: 4 hours and 25 minutes
What to expect
A gripping and heartwrenching novel of damage and survival, grief and unexpected solace, Marilyn and Me is a fascinating – and timely – insight into an extraordinary time and place
How do you translate the present, when you can't let go of the past?
It is the winter of 1954 and in the rubble-strewn aftermath of the Korean war Marilyn Monroe has come to Seoul to perform to the US soldiers stationed there. Incongruous in her silk dress and flawless makeup, she sings of seduction and love, dazzling battle-scarred Americans and Koreans alike.
Alice, the woman chosen to be Marilyn’s translator, was once Kim Ae-sun, before her name was stolen from her – along with so much else – by the war. With her prematurely grey hair, her fraying lace gloves and the memories that will engulf her if she lets them, Alice works as a typist for the US military. It is a job that has enabled her to survive, and to forget.
As they travel across the country, over the four days of Marilyn’s tour, the two women begin to form an unlikely friendship. But when Alice becomes embroiled in a sting operation involving the entrapment of a Communist spy she is forced to confront the past she has been trying so hard to escape.
Modern & contemporary fiction
Listen to a sample
‘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 Tattooist of Auschwitz
‘Alice is a troubled young woman who’s chosen to become Marilyn Monroe’s translator when she performs to US soldiers stationed in Korea. The star’s vulnerability stirs up conflicted memories for Alice, forcing her to confront her own suffering and the suffering she has caused others .. there are gravely beautiful moments and Lee’s depiction of the war and its aftermath is spare and powerful’ Mail on Sunday
‘Ji-min Lee’s beautifully written novel is a timely act of reclamation for the so-called Forgotten War’ Irish Times
‘An extraordinary tale of the solace that can be found in friendship’ Stylist
‘This short and haunting novel gives the reader an insight into a war that's largely been forgotten…This is a dark, impactful story of bleak survival, brilliantly translated from Korean, with raw and shocking images that tend to linger … a bone-chilling read’ Irish Independent
‘The unlikely empathy between Alice and Marylin is nicely conveyed in a raw, emotionally heightened novel about Korea’s largely unstoried legacy of grief’ Claire Allfree, Daily Mail
‘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, Man Asian Prize winner of Please Look After Mom
‘Marilyn and Me 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