The Japanese Lover: A Novel - Isabel Allende

The Japanese lover, is a love story that span decades, but it is about so much more. It about surviving, aging, forbidden love, the depth of caring, and friendship that allows loved ones to seek their own happiness without reproach. It told in unfolding story of an elderly woman coming to terms with and reliving her past. But in the present she is instrumental in helping a young woman who bears the emotional scars of a horrible childhood that keep her from moving forward with her life.

Life in the Lark house, a home for retiree is both funny and sad with it unconventional residents. This is where we introduction to Alma Balasco at eighty years old has chosen to live even though she is a woman of means with a large beautiful estate. It is here that she meets Irina.

The story alternates between the present with Alma working on the Belasco family history with her grandson Seth and Irina, whom she has hired as her assistant and Alma's earlier life when she is first sent to America from Poland. As a young girl she meets Ichimei Fukuda, the son of her aunt's gardener and her life is forever changed. The novel also contains sections covering the Fukuda family's experience in a Japanese internment camp reflecting on this difficult time in our history for Japanese immigrants and their American born children. These are interspersed with letters from Ichimei to Alma through the years.


This might easily have been 5 stars for me. Even though I cared about the characters from the beginning, the sparse dialog between the characters made it difficult for me at first to feel their connections with each other. It took a while for that to happen, but it eventually did. I know it not for everyone but I recommend this to any one who want to read a good romance novel.