Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Japanese Lover

The Japanese Lover
by Isabel Allende

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:  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.
from GoodReads

Review:  This book has been on my list to read for a while after someone in my book club suggested it.  I enjoy World War II historical fiction and have read a book or two about the Japanese internment camps before.  This book wasn't as good as the other books I have read on this topic.  I liked the addition of the present day story with the look back as to what happened to Alma and Ichimei earlier in their lives.  There was also the side story of Irina which I also found interesting as Irina was an interesting character.  I'm having a hard time putting my finger on what it was about the book that I did not connect to.  Perhaps the momentum of the story slowed down towards the middle of the book and that made me get a little bored of it or perhaps the author did not reveal enough about what was going on in a timely fashion.  There was also the jumping around in time periods which left me somewhat confused (although I did realize that I forgot to pause my audiobook at some point and it kept on going while I ran an errand!  Oops!)  It was a good story but not as captivating as other books I've read about WWII.

Rating:  3.5 stars

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