Awarded on Goodreads.
Every five to ten years I pick up a Pearl S. Buck novel and am always impressed with her ability to portray the complex issues that surface in relationships between members of different races. In this novel, she slowly unravels the passions, realities, and subtle racism that come into play when an American serviceman falls for a college student from a prominent but conquered Japanese family.
When we first meet Lt. Allen Kennedy, he is a handsome, rising star, a favorite of his Colonel and a powerful member of the occupying army in Japan after the end of World War II. Josui Sakai, the daughter of a prominent doctor in Kyoto, sits uncomfortably between the American culture of her youth (she grew up in California until War War II began) and the traditional Japanese culture so revered in Kyoto, where her father moved the family rather than be sent to an internment camp in the US. Following the death of his only son during the war and furious at the injustice of the interment camps, Dr. Sakai holds strong anti-American sentiment and desperately wants his daughter to live the life of a traditional Japanese woman. He even has a groom in mind for her.
Inevitably, when Allen and Josui fall in love – the intensity of their feelings lead them to believe that love is all they need. But as their romance unfolds, they must face family obstacles, religious prejudices, bureaucratic difficulties, legal challenges, and social restrictions. These are beautifully drawn but flawed human beings, who wind up facing so many difficulties that even the nature of their love is eventually called into question. It’s a beautiful story, with a realistic ending. Enjoy!