Redd Becker Book Review
Isabel Allende is a proven master of story telling. Little dialogue or ‘traditional’ scene structure encumber Allende as she weaves her story with uncanny knowledge of human secrets and motivations. Historical events turned inside out provide unexpected characters and relationships.
Isabel Allende creates diversions that matter
Allende goes on tangents within scenes to create new characters before returning to the plot, where she ties it all together. This adds multi-dimensions the reader doesn’t expect. It can be difficult to maintain the intensity and momentum during the middle sections, but Allende does it with finesse. She delivers a heart wrenching climax by the end. Thank you Allende for documenting the most human sides of history with compassion.
A young woman, Alma, works in an old folks home where she befriends a wealthy resident. When the old woman disappears for short vacations Alma decides to discover the truth of the woman’s past. Readers moved forward and backward in time piecing together the effects of World War II on each of the character’s lives: the main character Alma’s, the grandmother, her grandson and the Japanese lover.
For those interested in writing: Writers today are told to “Show, don’t tell”, but Allende stands out as a wonderful example of someone who “tells” her story effectively. The lack of action scenes doesn’t draw away from the novel. She has a style that lets you walk along with her.
My RatingThe Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor, Amanda Hopkinson
Published by Atria Books on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Buy on Amazon
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco's parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family's Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.
Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco's charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.