The Japanese Lover is a tale told backwards through the eyes of Alma. Alma is an old woman, living in a San Francisco care home, who shares her life story little by little and that of her one great love, Ichimei. This love is a huge, thumping, all encompassing love which lasted their entire lives, but all in secret.

Irina is her care assistant who has ghosts and secrets of her own. Alma intrigues young Irina and we learn through their exchanges the cost and prize of true love, the past you cannot escape and the lost, forgotten art of letter writing.

The Japanese Lover is not the genre of book that floats my boat. However I appreciated the writing style and the story, as the love between two people flows through families, years, world events and surrenders itself to fate.

It is a like a water colour painting in an art gallery. Serene and beautiful, yet tells a powerful story.

3 out of 5 stars from me.

Released early November

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The Book Jacket

From New York Times and internationally bestselling author Isabel Allende, an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War.

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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