If I Had Your Face – Book Review
Author: Frances Cha
Genre: Contemporary, women’s fiction
My rating: ★★★★★
Release Date: Published 21st April, 2020 by Penguin Books, UK (Viking)
Format: Kindle, 272 pages
What did I think?
Frances Cha’s debut novel introduces you to the lives of five women in modern day Seoul with their stories told through four of their alternating voices – and Cha did a great job of it.
While reading I was struck by two opposing things. First, that there are some big differences in South Korean culture and society in comparison to my neck of the woods – Queensland, Australia. Second that there are some big similarities. Aussies worry about finding a partner, having kids, job security, and money. We too wonder if our partner might be cheating and whether we are beautiful enough – and plenty of botox is being injected here in the pursuit of a ‘better self’ and more opportunity. My eyes were thoroughly opened, though, when I learned how widespread plastic surgery is in South Korea. Turns out they have one of the highest plastic surgery rates in the world.
If you’ve ever wondered how room salon’s work, this book will help you to understand. A quick summary: Corporate workers take guests there to entertain and impress them while doing business. The girls drink with them – and they drink a lot! I’m not sure how much grey area there is but sounds like an unhealthy lifestyle. Also many girls end up stuck when they get into debt to management after borrowing for plastic surgery. I guess the idea is to do better by looking better though it all sounds a bit dangerous and circular.
Each character was distinct yet equally compelling as Cha takes you through their life, dreams and backstory. Not all characters are connected to the room salons. Wonna is married and pregnant, Ara is a hairdresser.
I really enjoyed this fascinating novel. Five stars from me.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Penguin Books, UK (Viking) for my copy of the book in return for an honest review, and to the author, Frances Cha.