Well, it's about time I begin to tell you about some of the good reading I've been doing. One of my favorites is the new one from Isabel Allende. I will admit that I've never been a big fan of her works, although various book clubs I've been in seem to think she's an absolute imperative to read. but
The Japanese Lover
The Publisher says:
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.
I was drawn to young Irina and the beautiful relationship she forms with Alma. Each woman has something to offer the other. Allende shows us respect, love, the need for privacy, and the importance of autonomy as Alma ages and Irina matures. It's a lovely gentle although at time disturbing story, with an ending I didn't see coming. I loved the setting, mourned with both as they came to grips with losing loved ones, and found my hopes enlarging as life progressed. Her compassionate and objective description of the suffering of Japanese Americans as they were interned definitely added a complexity to the story. A gorgeous story, strongly recommended.