By Deborra Brannon
Rebecca Lee’s return to her childhood home in Dunsmuir was the first step in a creative odyssey that resulted in her first novel, All My Love, from The Land Of Morning Calm.
“After I moved back up here I had an idea that pretty much formed into a story long before I even put it to paper,” she said. Her novel follows a young woman who “doesn’t overthink things, who lives according to her heart and wants to create something brand new from her failures,” Lee said in describing the story.
The young woman is an American named Cara, whose life journey takes her to South Korea. She decides to stay there and start over in a country “whose culture she admires and whose people she respects,” Lee said. She called the story “part truth, part fictionalized truth, and part complete fantasy.”
Some of the circumstances in the novel have occurred in real life, Lee acknowledged, and some of the characters represent people she has met or would like to meet. She said her own respect and admiration for South Korean culture has grown out of what she has learned by watching Korean television and movies via online streaming.
“The South Korean and Italian cultures share similarities. The Korean people have tight family ties and strict beliefs. They’re emotional, expressive and tactile. I identify with them,” said Lee, who is Italian American. She said Korean people are also hard workers, very image and age conscious, and their culture is strictly male dominated.
All these cultural characteristics figure in the novel, playing a part in Cara’s experiences as an American in Korean society. Her independent, sometimes sassy nature and her quick intelligence open certain doors for her professionally, yet can be liabilities in her social and romantic life. Cara adopts customs of respect that would likely be unfamiliar to most Americans and for which she is respected in return. But she also struggles with the constraints Korean mores place on the friendships and loving relationships she pursues in the course of the novel.
The arc of the story follows Cara’s experiences as they happen, involving characters that appear throughout the book but in different relationship to the heroine at different times.
Loved this book!
March 2, 2017
This was a fun and entertaining read! It captured my interest from the beginning and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. There are lots of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat, anxious to know what happens next. I especially enjoyed the details about the Korean culture and felt like I was right there in the country with the sights, smells, tastes and people around me throughout the book. The main character, Cara, is someone you love with her wit, strength, beauty and intelligence. I am buying the next book, Hello Again, from the Land of Morning Calm, and can't wait to see how the story continues.
One Courageous Woman's Adventures in the Land of Morning Calm
February 14, 2016
Cara Antonacci was a student at Stanford University when she first set eyes on Tay (Takoda) Youngblood. She was intrigued more than impressed with the handsome Lakota Native American. He was a man on a mission - to get the help his South Dakota tribe needed. And he was certain Cara was the one person on campus who could bring the attention his cause needed. That is, if he could persuade her to spend the time she had already allocated to the sport that had given her the scholarship to the prestigious college, on his own peoples' needs.
Tay not only persuaded Cara to join his cause, he also persuaded her to marry him. After they were married and Tay had joined the Air Force, it was she who did the persuading when she insisted she be allowed to follow him to his station in South Korea, where she fell in love again, this time with the country and culture of her new home. In South Korea she soon discovered that what had seemed to be an adventurous life in the United States paled in comparison to what she would experience in her new home.
ALL of MY LOVE is a fast paced book that follows Cara's fascinating like - both in the US and, even more so inSouth Korea. Left to fend for herself in a country that couldn't have been more different from hew own culture, Cara's strength of character and willingness to succeed takes her beyond her own imagination.
I highly recommend this book.
Great first book.
May 12, 2015
Really enjoyed this book. It would make a really good movie. Looking forward to the next book.
I really enjoyed the book and learning about the Korean culture
May 9, 2015
I really enjoyed the book and learning about the Korean culture. I looked forward to reading each night to find out the next adventure in Cara's life. Due to the surprising twist at the end, I'm anxiously looking forward to the continuing story!!!
Excellent story and well worth the read
April 9, 2015
Excellent story and well worth the read! The main character, Cara, was instantly intriguing and by the end I was completely in love with her. She is a charismatic, strong, independent woman who is also vibrant and full of life. Constantly pushing the boundaries that try to suppress her spirit she is vulnerable yet resilient and true. She is a character I could easily be friends with!
Not only is Cara a lovely character, but the writing itself is unique in a really refreshing way. I love the way the author weaves the thoughts and perspectives of all the characters into every scene. Many authors switch narratives from one character's perspective to another in separate chapters or stay focused on one character's perspective. This author weaves them all together in a way that is clear and easy to follow. It really adds a fun dimension to a great story.
I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store for us!
April 6, 2015
What an interesting and lovely tale! I was transported back to the 80's and 90's as well as to a region I knew virtually nothing about. Wonderful description and local color detail as well. Looking forward to the next chapter.
R L Lee has created an intriguing story. I ...
March 28, 2015
R L Lee has created an intriguing story. I couldn't put the book down. Looking forward to her next novel!
Saw the world through R.L. Lee's eyes! Purely lovely.
March 25, 2015
I couldn't put this book down! All My Love, from The Land of Morning Calm kept me in a world all it's own. From a strong, spirited American woman to the Korean world she enters open-heartedly. Looking for the beauty and culture only another country could bring through her travels. Love so sweet and simple. After reading this book, I'm waiting for more R.L. Lee. Bring it on...
September 11, 2017
Enjoyed it as much as the first book. Another one coming??
I thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to All My Love
May 30, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to All My Love. The author is able to develop Cara Youngblood's experiences of love, family, deception and the cultural differences she encounters into a thoughtful and intriguing story. I look forward to more stories from the author R.L.Lee.
April 30, 2017
An unpredictable and enjoyable following to All My Love. It is not what you expect, but the approach makes perfect sense once you begin reading. It answers many of the questions you might have had from All My Love and takes you deeper into the character's lives. A stimulating read that takes you on a fascinating journey of love, deception, secrecy and forgiveness.
Sure to be another Readers' Favorite!
Not written according to a strictly traditional novel formula, Cara’s story unfolds in a series of story arcs reflecting the ups and downs of her life and loves.
“Isn’t that how life is?” Lee asked with a smile.
The organization of the book and its descriptive details reflect how Lee conceptualized the story. “I’m a very visual person. When I’m writing, I see the story in scenes, more or less in movie format,” she said.
She envisions the book “one day becoming a television series about the main character and Korean culture vis a vis American sensibilities,” Lee said. Although she is not sure whether an American/Korean production collaboration is possible, she said she will explore the possibility. “Korean drama TV is very well produced and popular in the culture. The stars are attractive and many of the shows are good, solid stories,” she said.
After a childhood lived in the Dunsmuir home her father built in 1939 and with a College of the Siskiyous associates degree in hand, Lee left Siskiyou County to “see the world.” Study in a Palo Alto business school led to administrative office work in education at Stanford University, then in law and financial services.
Lee was self-employed as a financial planner when the recession hit seven years ago. “I always knew I’d come back home eventually, and I decided to get out of financial planing when the market imploded in 2008,” she explained. Her father, who lived in the family home throughout his life, had died in 2001 and she had inherited the house. Lee moved back to Dunsmuir in 2010 and now works for the City of Mount Shasta.
She also is working on what she termed a “prequel sequel” to All My Love... involving some of the Korean characters to whom readers are introduced in the first book.
All My Love, from The Land Of Morning Calm is available at Village Books in downtown Mount Shasta and online at Amazon.com.
I loved this book. For me, it was a walk down Memory Lane. Just looking at the table of contents, I knew it would be meaningful for me. Palo Alto and Stanford University. I've been there. Seoul, South Korea, 1988. I was there working for AP during the Olympics and back to my regular job at Army Headquarters in Yongsan, once the Olympics were over. Northern California, yes. Japan, yes. I had to read this book.
My only fear was, what if R.L. Lee can’t write? It would have been so disappointing. I say “would have been” because, to my delight, All My Love, from The Land of Morning Calm is fantastic! I loved it. It brought back such strong memories from an important time in my life. It was just what I needed.
What impressed me most about this book were the descriptions of places, in other words, the setting. It would appear that R.L. Lee and I have been to a lot of the same places. The descriptions are perfect.
Don’t get me wrong. The other elements of fiction were equally on point in this book. The characters are realistic. The tone is pitch perfect. The plot is good. But rarely have I read a book that featured so many places I have lived and those places were described so well. That was special for me, but it is a special story anyway. Sometimes you’re just glad you picked up a book. Pick up this one and see.
Surprise! I Really Enjoyed Reading This Book!
May 13, 2015
My friend and neighbor gave me this book to read. I thought, well, I don't really have the time to read, I don't have much interest in South Korea, I don't think I would enjoy reading this story. One day, I picked it up and thought, I'll read it because I know the author. What the heck, I'll give it a try.
I'm known to put books down without finishing them, but this story moved right along, holding my interest until, before I knew it, I had finished it. No one was more surprised than me! I loved this book! The writing was excellent and the story engaging.
I had to call the author to let her know how much I enjoyed her work. Well done. I will read the next novel, too.
Facing pain to get to victory.......
April 2, 2015
If you're a strong woman about to read this book, watch your ego. You may find yourself, as I did, pondering one of Cara Youngblood's professional or personal entanglements and thinking, "I would have handled that situation differently." But that's exactly why I ended up liking her story so much. Cara does it her way and then has the courage to own her choices.
I would describe Cara as a contemporary, nontraditional woman with several "interesting" love relationships. Yes, there's more than one. And most of the story takes place in South Korea, where the number of women in senior jobs ranks low, which makes her stand out even more. But it's obvious from the beginning of this story that R.L. Lee had "stereotype busting" in mind when she wrote this book and boy does she get the job done.
I loved taking this journey with Cara and wish I had known more about her relationship with her parents earlier in the book because by the time we meet her she is already living life at a full romp. What a woman! But perhaps I'll have my questions answered in Lee's next book—where I will also, no doubt, learn a great deal about her unique approach to parenting.
February 23, 2015
This book truly captured my attention from the beginning! R L Lee has a great way of drawing us into each characters life, getting to know each one and the culture they were from. All the twists and turns kept me flipping through the pages to see what happened next. Not only was I drawn into each character, but each city they traveled to and lived in... I felt like I was right there with them!
Each time I thought I had the plot figured out... The story took an even better turn and surprise me! I can't wait for the next book and will be ready to be on the edge of my seat once again.
An American in Seoul...
February 23, 2015
In Cara Youngblood, Northern California writer R.L. Lee has created a beautiful, feisty, independent American woman, and she gives us a sweeping novel that takes us from Cara’s student days at Stanford University and to a well deserved and accomplished career in Seoul, South Korea. We are introduced to Cara’s troubled Native American husband and we witness that young marriage collapse from immaturity and unhealed pain. Fierce about rebuilding her life in South Korea, Cara meets Moon Hyo, Michael Lee, Kang Dae Ho, the men who come to love her---one of them desperately, another in silence, and the third who must harm her in order to save her.
This ambitious 526-page novel moves with vitality and brings us a cross-cultural saga that takes place in a part of the world many of us are unfamiliar with. As a westerner, Ms. Lee’s knowledge of South Korea--the country, its people, and their culture—educate, entertain, and make us care about what happens to her characters. Rather than following the romance novel formula, Ms. Lee gives us a love story burdened by deep cultural divides and opposition added to human imperfection resulting in an uncertain outcome. It’s a terrific accomplishment. Congratulations, Ms. Lee! I am pleased to learn that a sequel to All My Love, from The Land of Morning Calm, is already in the works.
Hello Again, from the Land Of Morning Calm: A Cara Youngblood Moon Novel (Book 2) is a powerful novel about coping with the caprices of life, relationship issues, and parenting, a book with an international cultural setting between South Korea and Northern California. Cara Moon has just returned home to her family in Northern California after a painful divorce from her husband, a Korean diplomat, Moon Hyo.
With her wounds still fresh, she has to struggle to re-adapt to her rural setting and become part of the family again. But is this going to be easy for her with a son to raise alone and an unhealthy relationship with her best friend, Michael Lee? With her vast cultural heritage, having gained the reputation of a seasoned interpreter in South Korea, she has to choose between reconnecting with the world she once knew and remaining stuck in her rural area.
A very beautiful story that handles themes of change and family in a way that is rarely done. Cara is a powerful character, a professional in her field, a woman with great intelligence, but she is also a broken woman, a character dealing with changes in life that she never saw coming while she was engrossed in her career.
R.L. Lee injects life into the characters and makes them a reflection of the different sensations readers are familiar with. The setting is beautiful and one has the feeling that it is well researched — the images come out vividly and the cultures distinctly. The colorful writing features insightful passages and streams of consciousness that allow readers to connect — emotionally and psychologically — to the characters. Hello Again, from the Land Of Morning Calm is a gripping, enjoyable story with strong cultural and psychological underpinnings.
"The Woman in the Arena"
June 19, 2017
“Living with fear stops us from taking risks, and if you don't go out on the branch, you're never going to get the best fruit.”
Cara Youngblood Moon could have easily said these words but instead she lives them every day of her life. So, before you begin to read "Hello Again" pack your bags and get ready for a complicated journey.
This trip begins in Northern Ca. where Cara and her son live, having left her husband, Moon, in Korea. Cara and Regalo are surrounded by her loving family and seem to be living a traditional, supportive, and comfortable life. Things seem normal. And then they’re not—and Cara and Regalo are on their way back to Korea.
This is when author Lee begins to engage us, using a writing style I especially like. We are reintroduced to characters we’ve met and we meet new ones. Each one has their own complete and intriguing story to tell and Lee gives them the voice to do so.
New Agent Trainee Mairet McCarron at Quantico, Virginia is a good example. I loved reading the details of her training and she also has a most interesting instructor. This is a great part of the story.
Reading more about Madame Chang’s background was fascinating. The author obviously did a lot of research to create such interesting and detailed portraits of these women. As a reader, I was able to have a sense of completion with each section—something I really like.
Yes, this book has a happy ending—but I can guarantee it’s not one you’ll expect. Having worked with Korean executives, who happened to be male, I thought I had nailed it and could predict the outcome. Lee pulled the rug right out from under me and created an ending that indeed provides a “Fresh Start” for everyone.
Full disclosure: I am especially interested in the Korean culture and that’s why from the very beginning I’ve been engrossed in the story of a woman- from Ca. married to a Native American, who moved to Korea. Lee’s details provide cultural insights and are also timely, in my opinion. Most entertaining.