The Japanese Lover: Book summary and reviews of The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover

by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende X
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2015
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Befitting the unapologetically romantic soul bared here - the poignant letters to Alma from Ichimei are interspersed throughout - love is what endures." - Publishers Weekly

"Descriptions of the Fukudas' forced internment at a Utah camp, where life continues behind barbed wire, create a memorable impression. Equally haunting is Irina's painful backstory, which skillfully unfolds. Although not as complex or richly detailed as Allende's earlier novels, the story has many heartfelt moments, and readers will be lining up for it." - Booklist

"Vividly and pointedly evoking prejudices "unconventional" couples among the current-day elderly faced (and some are still battling), Allende, as always, gives progress and hopeful spirits their due." - Kirkus

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eknight

Library BookClub Selection
Enjoyed this book very much. Did not know any of the details about the internment of the Japanese people here in America except that taught in a classroom. The way Allende writes paints a great picture and helps to understand the times.

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Author Information

Isabel Allende Author Biography

Isabel Allende Llona (born in Lima, Peru, on 2 August 1942) is a Chilean writer with American citizenship. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the "magic realist" tradition, is famous for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City of the Beasts (La ciudad de las bestias, 2002), which have been commercially successful. Allende has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author". In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2010, she received Chile's National Literature Prize.

Allende's novels are often based upon her personal experience and pay homage to the lives of women, while weaving together elements of myth and realism. She has ...

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Name Pronunciation
Isabel Allende: Ees-abel Ay-enday (or ä-YEN-d?)

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