Monday, November 7, 2016

The Japanese Lover / Isabel Allende / 322 pgs

I just finished the audiobook of The Japanese Lover, which will be my book club's book to read for our April meeting. The story revolves around Alma, a woman in her 80's who moved recently to an assisted living area. She is cared for by Irina, a Moldovan young woman who immigrated to the United States as a young teenager with her mother. Irina carries a lot of secrets, but so does Alma. Alma was born in Poland and was sent to live with her rich uncle and aunt in California in the early days of WWII. Her parents died in the war and she is raised to be like a daughter to the rich Belascos. It is there that she meets the Japanese gardener's son, Ichimei, and forbidden love eventually blooms. The story goes back and forth between the past (from the 1930s to the 1980s) and the present in 2013.

I don't know. I feel as if we were never really told much about why these characters went from friends as children to lovers in their 20s. The plot feels thin and too conveniently tied up. When Alma marries another man because marrying a Japanese man just wasn't done in that time or social circle, you're led to believe that this other man loves Alma, only to find out that it was never the case. Maybe I should believe that there really wasn't a love triangle at all, but I find myself disappointed that everything just fell neatly into place. The book didn't challenge me in the least. It's good if you want fluff without the smut, but there's no real fun in that.

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