The Japanese Lover – by Isabel Allende – independent book review – Historical Fiction (World War II, United States)

This is one of those books where I felt one way while reading the first two-thirds and then VERY differently during the last third. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.

japaneseloverThis is a less linear plot than other books I’ve read by the very talented Chilean writer, Isabel Allende, and I think that threw me. At times it felt disjointed to me and I couldn’t see how all the pieces of the story were ever going to fit together. Ah, but then they did. And Beautifully!

Alma, Nathaniel, and Ichimei meet in San Francisco as children and we follow their interconnected lives into old age. Initially, Alma is a Polish refugee fleeing the Nazis. Nathaniel is her protective older cousin. Ichimei is the son of the family gardener.

Isabel Allende

Along their paths, there are international travels, Japanese internment camps, the world of AIDS in 1980s San Francisco, and a glimpse into sex trafficking. But the most dominant theme is the deep and constant power of love. And even if you have never experienced it, this book will make you believe in love so intense it really can defy even death.

If you are tempted mid way to drop the book, don’t. Stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.

More about the author.

You may be interested in my reviews of other books by Allende, one of my favorite authors:

A Long Petal of the Sea


The Wind Knows My Name

In the Midst of Winter

Island Beneath the Sea


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