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The Japanese Lover Paperback – 2 Jun 2016
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‘Lush storytelling, with a liberal dusting of South American magical realism and a multigenerational narrative sweep . . . The Japanese Lover has all the ingredients of classic Allende: love, secrecy, fate; stories within stories; the arc of history; and a certain robustness and ability for reinvention on the part of her characters’ (Financial Times on The Japanese Lover)
‘A magical and sweeping tale . . . remarkable . . . heartbreaking’ (Publishers Weekly on The Japanese Lover)
About the Author
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, Paula, and My Invented Country. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages and have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. She lives in California. www.isabelallende.com
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‘Love and friendship do not age,’ Ichimei writes in one of his love-letters to Alma which punctuate the novel. Love and friendship are Isabel Allende’s themes here. Alma’s cousin/ husband is not her greatest love but he is her dearest and truest friend. Ichimei is her great love, and the author conveys the intensity of their passion with an aching clarity: ‘Love and desire for him scorched her skin.’ Equally unflinching is her depiction of the indignities of the WW2 internment camp in which the Fukudas are sequestered.
Allende is one of contemporary literature’s greatest storytellers. She peoples her narrative with characters as vivid as in a book by Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo, bringing them to life with an economy of style that neither Hugo nor Dickens was noted for! At the end she introduces a perfectly exquisite moment of the 'magic realism' which permeated her earliest novels. A new book from Isabel Allende is always a special joy, and this one finds her – and her translators - on top form.
It keeps you riveted and reminds us of America's very cruel treatment of the Japanese living on their soil during the second World war.
It also describes vividly what life is when you reach a certain age - the various and rather eccentric characters living in the retirement home are very well studied by Allende and the main protagonist, Alma is a very interesting character.
I always enjoy Allende's writing, although I'm not sure this is her best book. But a really great read.
I loved the way that right until the very end the characters revealed themselves in layers, like peeling an onion. You knew there was more to know about each one and the way in which each came to fruition was beautiful.
There are still few books that deal with the process of ageing, but that has to go down as one that does so tenderly and with insight.
The narrative was also interesting, I have not read any other novels that deal with the US' internment of Japanese during WW2, and although I knew that this had happened I was shocked at the picture given of the camp. ( a salutary lesson for modern politicians who scream about concerns over extremism today!)
I would recommend this book to any fan of Isabelle Allende or readers who enjoy good writing and interesting characters.
I will certainly read more of her books and recommend this one most highly.
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