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The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
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The Japanese Lover (2015)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1758310,650 (3.69)63
"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"--… (more)

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» See also 63 mentions

English (79)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Well constructed and solid plot about family, love and aging, the story includes certain plot lines that are not common in real life but may indeed happen in reality. For example, Alma's friendship with her husband's gay lover, and Isaac's love for Alma surpassing that for his daughters (he didn't like his daughters that much). I also like Alma's and Lenny's ruminations about aging and death. Nevertheless, I felt that something was amiss about Ichimei's letters - someone as stoic as Ichimei doesn't seem capable of waxing such lyrical letters. ( )
  siok | May 5, 2019 |
I read this for my women's book group and anticipate we will have a good discussion. I liked this novel despite the unexciting writing style - there is a lot more "tell" than "show." Much of the book is exposition which is merely a recitation of character's histories, loves, lives, and losses. Despite this flaw which makes it difficult to have an emotional connection to the characters, I did find myself wanting to find out what happened next. And the ending was satisfying. (but no spoilers).

( )
  PhyllisReads | Apr 27, 2019 |
While a 4 in most ways it was not a super 4. I did enjoy it. A good candy bar read. ( )
  gayjeg | Apr 25, 2019 |
I'm not sure where to start. There are so many stories and characters interwoven, but done so skillfully I care about them all. I especially loved Alma and her friendship with the health care worker Irina. Having just lost my very elderly mom, I wish she had had a young friend like Irina. As usual with books about "star crossed lovers" I found myself angry with Alma for some of the choices she made, but Allende does a good job of explaining Alma's feelings of guilt at making them. She wished she had been strong enough to make different ones, but knew herself well enough to know that she was not. There are several surprises near the end that I didn't see coming. This is my first Allende novel; I don't think it will be my last.
  cherybear | Apr 12, 2019 |
This is a quiet little novel about dis/connection, privilege, sacrifice, and aging. There's nothing groundbreaking and very few sympathetic characters, but it's a nice character study and the writing is quite lyrical. My book club's discussion helped add a lot of value to this read. I know a lot of people love Allende, but I think I've read her once, I'm glad for it, and I won't be rushing to read her again. ( )
  mediumofballpoint | Mar 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Årets roman, «Den japanske elskeren», plasserer seg rundt midten av Allendes egen skala. Den mangler «Åndenes hus»’ magiske løft, men er spennende nok til å holde på leserens interesse helt ut
 
Anmeldelse: Overveldende ny roman fra Isabel Allende

Har nese for de pussige så vel som trøblete sidene av livet.
added by annek49 | editDagbladet, Maya Troberg Djuve (pay site) (Apr 30, 2016)
 
Familiemedlemmene og vennene i «Den japanske elskeren» er mange. Isabel Allende løfter dem alle nennsomt ut og inn fra fortiden og inn i samtiden på Lark House. Det er i lange strekk nydelig gjort, en god roman å lese, dette
added by annek49 | editVG, Guri Hjeltnes (Apr 22, 2016)
 
Unfortunately, love’s intoxication, like the scent of the gardenias Ichimei sends Alma over many years, fails to lift this new novel above its thin plot and weakly motivated ­characters.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caistor, NickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, AmandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Ga niet weg, schuwe schim van mijn geliefde,
Toverbeeld dat ik bovenal adoreer,
Wonderschone illusie voor wie ik graag zou sterven,
Zoete fantasie waarnaar ik bij leven al smacht.

- Sor Juana Inés de la Crux
Pause, shadow of my elusive love, image of my most dear enhanter, Beautiful illusion for whom i die gladly Sweet fiction for whom i live sadly. ---------------Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz
Dedication
Voor mijn ouders Panchita en Ramón,
oude en wijze mensen
To my parents, Panchita and Ramon
First words
Irina Brazili ging bij Lark House aan de slag in 2010, drieëntwintig jaar jong en zonder veel illusies, want al sinds haar vijftiende zwierf ze van stad tot stad als een meisje van twaalf ambachten en dertien ongelukken.
Lark House
When Irina Bazili began working at Lark House in 2010, she was twenty-three years old but already had few illusions about life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco is sent away to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle in California. Her life is quickly changed when she meets the son of her aunt’s gardener, Ichimei Fukuda. Young love blossoms between them, until they are cruelly separated when Ichimei and his family are relocated to a Japanese-American internment camp. Throughout their lifetimes, they manage to reunite again and again, but theirs is a love they are forever forced to hide from the prejudiced eyes of the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her life and forges a friendship with Irina Bazili—a care worker with her own troubled past—at a nursing home in California. As Irina begins to form a relationship with Alma’s grandson, Seth, the pair investigates a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma in an effort to uncover the secret of Alma’s mysterious Japanese lover.
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