The Starlet and the Spy
"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 #1 New York Times bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz
A dazzling work of historical fiction, based on true events, about two women who seem the most unlikely to ever meet: Alice, a Korean war survivor and translator for the American forces in Seoul and Marilyn Monroe, who is visiting Korea on a four-day USO tour. February 1954. Although the Korean War armistice was signed a year ago, most citizens of Seoul still battle to return to some semblance of normalcy. Conditions are dismal. Children beg for food, and orphanages are teeming. Alice J. Kim, a Korean translator and typist for the American forces still sanctioned in the city, yearns for the life she used to live before her country was torn apart.
Then Alice's boss makes an announcement—the American movie star Marilyn Monroe will be visiting Korea on a four-day USO tour, and Alice has been chosen as her translator. Though intrigued, Alice has few expectations of the job—what could she and a beautiful actress at the peak of her fame possibly have to talk about? Yet the Marilyn she meets, while just as dazzling and sensual as Alice expected, is also surprisingly approachable.
As Marilyn's visit unfolds, Alice is forced into a reckoning with her own painful past. Moving and mesmerizing, The Starlet and the Spy is a beautiful portrayal of unexpected kinship between two very different women, and of the surprising connections that can change, or even save, a life.
Ji-min Lee is a screenwriter in Korea and the author of several novels.