From New York Times and internationally best-selling 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 70 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.
©2015 Isabel Allende (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
A long time passionate admirer of this Author's work, I was at first puzzled at the style of this novel at the beginning and also not very enthusiastic with the mode of oral delivery. I hesitated. But now, I am glad I persisted. Although there is a lot of historically important detail, I felt, "crammed in " unnecessarily, I came to see that there may be a new generation of listeners to whom these momentous events are unknown and it needs retelling. From the Balkans to Japan, the U.SA., forgiveness and love have to be fore grounded, always.
This is where the similarities with the earlier, "magical realism" novels are the strongest. Perhaps Age is a character in this novel and it helps the listener to understand and share.
It reminded me of Alice Munro and Elizabeth Strout's work-fine company to be in.
Written and translated into English beautifully. Narration perfect. A deeply touching story demonstrating all Allende's skill and understanding of human sensibilities.
A wonderful lovestory. It do well written in a beautiful language. I can really recommend this book.
Also the performance is great.
A complicated sapiens. Mainly auditory, with a kinaesthetic touch; curious and resourceful. Reasonable, most of the time.
Nicely written tearful Fiction with no real purpose. There are so many real reasons to cry
I thought this was an interesting, multi layered story that was well told and well performed. I was a bit worried that it might be a bit chick lit but it wasn't at all. A great listen!
"Oh Isabel...What happened?"
I would try another book by Isabel just because I respect her previous writings so much - will never purchase a book read by Joanna Gleason. I am halfway through this book and it is the first time in a long while that I am forcing myself to listen to the end. Her narration is horrible, no modulation, no change in character's voices (when they do speak). Very, very amateur.
None of the characters are of any interest to me since they are written so poorly. I am sure in better hands the story would come alive and we could root for them but, as is, the story is plodding. I was so looking forward to reading this latest novel of Ms. Allende knowing how beautifully and movingly she can write. Not sure what happened with this one but it needed major revisions.
"My first negative review"
I have listened to hundreds of Audible titles and have had very few disappointments. Or at least I should say that I've had some less than good experiences but perhaps those were expected. So that is why I feel impelled to write this review. I had high expectations for this book that just were not met.
The book deals with huge themes - the Nazi extermination of Jews, the internment of Japanese in America during WW2, child pornography. And other themes. But I found myself detached, my mind wandered as I listened. Why? Because I could not empathize with Alma the protagonist and supposedly the touchstone for the rest of the characters in the book. Yes, she suffered a tremendous blow as a child when she was separated from her parents but she went on to live a privileged and self-absorbed life. Even the love affair with the Japanese lover was unconvincing and lacked passion. Nothing she had done could or should have invoked such enduring devotion from him. The devotion showed to her by the other characters therefore suffered the same lack of credibility and empathy. The narrator also disappointed. She had a fairly flat affectless delivery. All in all a very disappointing listen.
"❤️ Allende's writing & characters"
Even though I am a huge fan Allende's books, this story was quite disjointed. And a bit depressing toward the end. Still though, her characters are memorable & her descriptions lovely. I wouldn't recommend it...
"Terrible on All Counts"
This book was not written well at all.
I was not impressed by the author or her storytelling. This story had great potential and big themes, but the writing was so flat. The story is just told, not shown, if that makes sense. There is almost no dialogue, and it just reads like an overly long summary.
The performance was also flat, with no voices given to characters when there WAS dialogue.
I can't even remember her name (that's how unmemorable she is), but the Moldovan girl who is supposed to be important in the story just isn't.
I do not recommend this book, at all. I really wanted to like it, and from the synopsis it sounds right up my alley. I love history and peoples' stories, but this book was just terrible on all counts. Poorly written, uninspired narration, and very flat overall.
A very boring story. No heart. Poor character development. Disjointed. Predictable. Glad when it ended.
If you're looking for fast moving action, this isn't the book for you. It's a thoughtful analysis of the theme of loss and love deferred. Each of the characters faces a love they desire but cannot or will not have for whatever reason. But they live fulfilling and thoughtful lives. A treatise on love and the end of life beautifully rendered.
"Interesting love story"
Amazing love story full of surprises. Allende's great talents brings you back to so many different time lines. Truly amazing.
"Narrator Ruined the Book"
What a horrid narration of what should have been a good book. I'll avoid Joanna Gleason as a narrator, for sure.
Overall the book was not nearly as well done as other Allende masterpieces, but it's kind of unfair to judge after hearing the book read so poorly.
"Did not like narrator or story line."
Better story and character development.
It was terrible. But then again maybe it's because of the way the book was written
not worth it
"When will it end.....?"
I feel compelled to finish it since it's our book club pick - but I have no interest in the characters or story. And the performance is boooooringly dull and flat. I find myself drifting off frequently and have no interest in rewinding to see what I missed - and I'm usually one who loves a sweeping family saga spread over the generations. My first and last Isabel Allende book, and definitely my last book read by this reader.
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