“This is a beautifully heartbreaking story about life, love and mistakes.  Love had, love lost.  Love that can withstand the test of time.  Love that can help heal.”
~ Under the Covers

THE JAPANESE LOVER is a beautiful life story about two women.  One at the end of her complicated life, and one at a crossroads in the middle where she has to overcome her past.  Alma Belasco, originally from Polland, came to live with her aunt and uncle in the US when she was a little girl.  They gave her a lavish life catering to her every whim, raising her in a society where she never has to want for anything.  During her childhood, she becomes best friends with a Japanese boy.  Although life tears them apart, that friendship marks her life and throughout the years, as their relationship changes, becomes the biggest part of who she is.  Friendship turns into love, turns into loss and pain.

We meet Alma when she’s an old woman living in a retirement home.  Her only companions?  Her grandson Seth and one of the caretakers at the home, Irina.  The second woman we get to meet in this book and whose life becomes forever changed by this story.  She’s young and down on her luck, having a past that tortures her every day.  But it’s Alma and her story, and eventually Seth and his love, that make a big difference for Irina.

This is a beautifully heartbreaking story about life, love and mistakes.  Love had, love lost.  Love that can withstand the test of time.  Love that can help heal.  But also centers around prejudice and how it can break someone and get in the way of happiness.   Although this story is a bit understated, and it starts off slower than I would’ve liked, by the time it gets going you can’t help but get lost in these characters and want to know more.  I felt like a little kid waiting for grandma to tell the story of her life.  Her adventures.  The format in which it’s told going back and forth between past and present, was perfect to show the reader how they got here.  And the ending is bittersweet.  This is definitely a book that surprised me by making me shed a tear on more than one occasion because the writing was so subdued, the emotions snuck up on me.

As much as I enjoyed this book a lot, I have to admit I couldn’t help but compare it to her other work and see it fall short of my expectations.  Isabel Allende is legendary in her writing and I can’t quite see this as being up there with her classics.  However, if you go into it with a clear mind or if this is your first foray into her writing, I believe you won’t be disappointed with this story full of depth.

Favorite Quotes:

Whoever says that every flame must sooner or later be extinguished is wrong.  Because there are passions that blaze on until destiny destroys them with a swipe of its paw.  And even then, hot embers remain that need only a breath of oxygen to rekindle.  

For a split second she hated this man, forcing her to confront her most despicable side.  Only to be instantly overwhelmed by the huge wave of love and desire she always felt when he was with her. 

It was then that she launched into the speech that she had prepared with all the care of a legal clerk.  About how she loved him, and would do so for the rest of her life, but that their love had no future, was impossible.  How family and friends were starting to become suspicious and ask questions.  How they came from very different worlds and had to fulfill their own destinies.  How she had decided to continue her art studies in London and so they would have to part.  Ichimei received this battering with the resoluteness of someone prepared for an attack. 


[about-author author=”Isabel Allende”]


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