Thursday, 15 September 2016

Book Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.

Book:The Japanese Lover

Author: Isabel Allende

Translators: Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

Pages: 322

Read: Paperback; you can read the first few pages of the book by clicking on 'Preview' below

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: 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.

General Thoughts: I own about 5 of Isabel Allende's books.  I have wanted to read her books for very long but for some odd reason I never got around to reading it. Silly me. But I loved this book. Loved it and I am going to read the rest of her books that I own pretty soon. 

Things I Loved: 

1. I loved the writing. LOVED it. Such a delight to read. 

2. The basic premise of the story, a love story spanning decades is simply lovely. But honestly this book is so much more. So much more! It is a love story. A holocaust survival story. A story of friendship. A marriage based on caring. A story about the golden years of one's life. A story of overcoming great strife. 

3. A huge portion of this book is spent in a retirement home among hordes of senior citizens, some of whom are inches away from the end. I loved reading about how unique this stage of life is and not so many books focus on this demographic. 

4. I love the very scope of this book. How wide it spans. From the 1940s to present day. I love books that span decades, I find these stories very comforting. 

5. Alma was a tricky character. She was real and human and not perfect in the least. Deeply flawed and nuanced. I really liked her as a child and felt her loss deeply but the young Alma...well...I wasn't a fan at all. But as the years went on she redeemed herself rather..which came across as so genuine and how things are in real life. 

6. Irina! I wanted to give this brave, kind and wonderful girl a hug. Her story was such a joy to read. 

7. This book is so full of wonderful characters. I loved pretty much everyone I met in this book. It was so nice to get to know them so well. Nathaniel, Seth, Ichimei, Irina and the many people in Lark House were all such wonderful characters. 

8. There is so much going on in this book and it never, not for a moment feels like it is chaotic or crowed. And the author does justice to each and every segment of the story. 

9. The Japanese Internment Camps were such a dark period of history. And one that we don't read a lot about. I honestly didn't know about this till very a year or two ago. I really appreciated reading about this and finding out more about it. 

10. There are also so many little mysteries in this book, which made the reading so much more intriguing.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Some of the little mysteries were very, very predictable and obvious. 

2. Ichimei was almost absent in the book. And given the title of the book is Japanese Lover it was a little disappointing to have him not really there. I would have liked to see more of him in the book. 

Rating: 4/5 

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