by Isabele Allende
Atria Books (Simon and Schuster)
Buy from Indigo
Description: 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 explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and 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 profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change
The Good Stuff
- Engrossing sweeping historical family saga
- Richly written, and well researched, historical detail
- A lot of well placed humour
- Flesh and blood characters that feel so very lifelike
- A positive portrayal of an assisted living/old age home
- Horrifying and fascinating information pertaining to the internment of the Japanese in San Francisco
- Thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Irina and Alma.
- Perfect story for a book club or class discussion
- Lyrical writing
- Fantastic character development, especially in regards to Irina
- Allende is truly a brilliant storyteller
The Not So Good Stuff
- Story line jumps around a little too much and is jarring at times
- Had a sudden urge to go work at a Seniors community in order to develop a relationship like the one between Alma and Irina
"It depends. I stroke them, and they always like that, because old people don't have anyone who touches them, and I get them hooked on a TV series, because nobody wants to die before the final episode."
"It was like driving a cross between a bicycle and a wheelchair." (Jen's note: the best description of a smart car ever!)
"Because I have time to spare, and for the first time in my life nobody expects anything of me. I don't have to prove anything. I'm not rushing everywhere; each day is a gift I enjoy to the fullest."
"Hearts are big enough to contain love for more than one person."
I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review