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Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm

Martin is eighty-four years old, a Korean War veteran, living quietly in a retirement home in upstate New York. His days are ruled by the routine of the staff. In his thoughts and dreams, Martin often returns to the Seoul of his youth, and the lost true love of his life.

Two close friends urge him to travel back to search for that love. What awaits Martin in Korea, more than six decades after he left the country on a troop transport back to the U.S.?

Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm is a story of friendship, love, and family, in all its many shapes, across time, generations and cultures.

I can reassure those who know Mr. Hirschi as the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings. He’s done it again.
This book, perhaps the most romantic of the books I’ve read so far by this author, in my opinion, is about a love story that has survived incredible odds and lasted almost a whole lifetime.

Although the story of elderly men or women trying to find a lost love is not new, I enjoyed Martin’s process of discovery and his coming into his own. I love the comradery and the way the three men helped each other, with Eugene playing the fairy godmother and facilitating the trip, Kevin providing the technical and hands-on know-how, and Martin confronting his fears to become the hero he was meant to be. This is a novel about friendship, about history, about love, and about hope. We should never lose our hope and dreams.

A gorgeous cover, for a truly romantic book that goes beyond the standard love story and includes an ensemble of characters you’ll feel sorry to say goodbye to.

Olga Núñez Miret

Author & Reviewer

What sets this particular novel apart is that it talks about real-life events—such as those related to the Korean War—and makes them part of the main, fictional story, provoking thought surrounding the yet-to-be-resolved conflict in that region. What sets it apart is the universal feelings it speaks of, in a powerful way, making us laugh (and cry) and fall in love with its characters—Martin, a Korean War veteran living in a retirement home in Upstate New York; Kevin, a young nurse; and Eugene, an older, yet flamboyant, actor, who, together with Kevin, gets Martin to think not of his retiring from life, but of Ji-Hoon, his true love he found in Seoul, so many decades ago.

In Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm Hirschi takes us on an unexpected journey of rediscovery—of the true meaning of friendship, the power of love and renewed hope and, quite possibly, of second chances. The story is remarkable, as is the author’s storytelling; the writing, superb, as Hans M. Hirschi’s writing always is. The read? Absolutely a must-read!

Alina Oswald

Writer & Photographer

I originally set out to find all the small details that are wrong in the descriptions about Korea, simply because orientalism and romanticizing Asia by the West always makes me sick. Until I read the first half of the book, I had such an idea, but I totally abandoned that when I reached the part describing Korea after the war and when the story of Ji-Hoon emerged. I just enjoyed reading it. As I read the story, I learned more about the situation in Seoul at that time and just read it with pleasure. […]

It’s taken me time to find a way to express my appreciation in a ‘decent’ way. As you know stories about sexual minorities are barely found in Korea. Recently, a few novels have appeared but they have not received much attention. Thank you for treating this topic with the history of Korea, and thanks for not romanticizing Korea and the problem of sexual minorities in Korea.

신원준

The story begins with a Korean War veteran reminiscing about his time in Korea and the young man he fell passionately in love with. Due to the ‘timing’ of their attraction, it wasn’t a relationship that was meant to be. Now, as Martin looks back at his life and what he’s missed out on, his desire to learn what happened to his lover…and whether he even still alive, becomes an all-consuming need.

Mr. Hirschi has skillfully blended a historical accounting of the Korean War and Seoul after the cease-fire has been declared into a romance that spans decades. Love does last a lifetime…

Diane

on Goodreads

En résumé, un roman absolument parfait que je vous recommande chaudement, un coup de coeur qui restera longtemps dans mon coeur et dans ma mémoire.

“In conclusion, an absolutely perfect novel that I warmly recommend you to read, a favorite that will linger in my heart and memory for a long time.”

Samantha Garret-Grady Ortéga

Sur l'étagère, derrière la sirène en plastique

ISBN:
Paperback: 978-1-78645-203-0
eBook: 978-1-78645-204-7

I remember doing research into the activities of the USO in Korea. I was curious about the sort of entertainment Martin would've been able to encounter while stationed in Korea. Marylin Monroe's name came up, and it gave me a reason to write that into the book in a scene. Imagine my surprise when I found this footage from one of her concerts in Korea. Don't miss to have a look at this. Can you spot Martin? There are even some shots of her behind the stage where Martin shook hands with her in the novel.