The Japanese Lover
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From New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende, “a magical and sweeping” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) love story and multigenerational epic that stretches from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during World War II.
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family—like thousands of other Japanese Americans—are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.
Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover is written with the same keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the Spirits. The Japanese Lover is a moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Beautifully understated and refined
This was the first book I’ve read by this author. Some reviews here say this book isn’t as good as her previous work. If that is the case, well then I want to gorge myself with all of her writing. I absolutely loved this book. It was a thoughtful and delicate look at the sunset of life. As someone who is currently caring for an elderly parent and one who has spent many years living in Japan - this book truly moved me. It reflects on love, healing, compassion and yes, dying. Much of Japanese culture/religion finds its power in the spaces between. If you study ikebana or ukiyo-e, it’s often the negative space that holds meaning. That’s what I found in this book...just consume and let the pieces fall into place, find the greater meaning outside the narrative.
I so loved this book. I resisted reading it because I did not think I would connect with it. Imagine my surprise - I connected with every page. She surprises with insight, twists and turns of life. Thank you, Isabel. RTR
The Japanese Loved
Don't waste your valuable time with this book. I found it extremely boring. I actually made it to the awful ending. This is not this author's best work.