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BOOK REVIEW: The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende

| 4 March 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende

Simon & Schuster Australia
November 2015
Hardback, $39.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Historical Fiction


The Japanese Lover - Isabel Allende

Isabelle Allende writes with such mastery that this relatively simple tale about two women at either ends of their adult lives is at once mesmerising and viscerally emotional.

Alma Belasco is an elderly woman who has seen much in her days: she escaped Poland just in time to evade the horrors of World War II; lived a long and happy life with her rich uncle’s family; founded a charitable organisation; became an artist; and had a family.

We meet her in a rest home as she settles into the twilight of her years willingly, as seen through the eyes of Irina Bazili, a care worker at the home. Irina, in her early 20s, has seen much herself, surviving a dirt-poor upbringing in Romania, before being brought to America by her wayward mother, where far worse turbulence and horrors await her.

A friendship and co-dependency slowly grows between the women, and soon Alma’s spoilt grandson Seth falls for the young immigrant, and despite her resistance to his advances, an unlikely friendship forms and they conspire to discover Alma’s deepest secret: that of her Japanese Lover and childhood friend Ichimei Fukuda.

Allende weaves her tale expertly and compassionately: she is such a master of her craft that her characters manifest themselves, tugging at our emotions and bringing us joy with their triumphs, and tears with their sadness, not to mention wonder at her magical and triumphant ending.

Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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