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The Japanese Lover

27/09/2017

The Japanese Lover

by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is a master storyteller. She easily draws us into a tale of lives lived long ago, walking us hand in hand through time, as her characters recount their loves and losses. 

This tale begins in pre-Nazi Germany and ends in modern day California. It follows the destinies of two clans; one a prominent Jewish family, and the other, their Japanese gardener and his children.

As young people do, the offspring of both families ignored the constraints of social class and economic divide and played together, creating a lasting bond.  As they grew older, the demands of propriety and social custom drove them apart, but they never forgot one another.  This is the tale of their ongoing friendship.

It is also the tale of an immigrant nurse who worked in the retirement home where Alma, a member of the Jewish family, lived.  Here, their stories intertwined, with the two developing a strong friendship.  As Alma told her tale, the nurse listened and clung to her secrets, eventually gathering courage to confront her own demons. The themes of strength and resilience are found in all of Allende’s fiction.  Her stories abound with strong women who repeatedly adapt to changing circumstances.  These matriarchs are testimonials to the forbearance and bravery of the female gender.

Writing originally in Spanish, this Chilean born author, now living in California, has experienced personal tragedies, the most devastating of which was the loss of her daughter, Paula. Allende plumbs the depths of emotion in her novels and never shies away from difficult or painful subjects.  On the contrary, she seems to tackle them with gusto, challenging the reader to face the ugly side of life, as well as the tremendous beauty found in a love that was strong enough to transcend poverty, separation and war.

The Japanese Lover by sonja_library