Whether or not you are familiar with Chilean American author Isabel Allende’s poetic voice, you will delight in the elegance of The Japanese lover.
At the centre of this charming story are 80 year old Alma and young Moldovian immigrant Irina. Alma is a resident at a retirement home in San Francisco and Irina is her carer.
Slowly and mostly in flashback Alma reveals the secrets of her tumultuous life to Irina and her other companions at the home – a large group of assorted characters searching for love.
Among them are survivors of the Holocaust, of the Japanese-American Internment camps, of the collapse of the Soviet Union , of the Aids crisis. Along the way, their lives are also captivatingly revealed.
I enjoyed the book for its understanding portrayal of friendship, love and ageing, for its unusual setting and for the colourful characters that fill the pages. Important too was that for the first time I learned the harsh facts about how Japanese Americans were sent away to detention camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. A cruel sentence for innocent people.
Like all Allende’s books, this one was originally written in Spanish, because to her “fiction comes from the womb, not from the brain.”
Lucky for us nothing appears to be lost in translation!
Title: The Japanese lover
Author: Isabel Allende
Also available as an eBook and eAudiobook.
Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library
Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.