“The Japanese Lover”


“The Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende is above everything else a love story.  The author explores many types of love–love of self, love of family, love of children, and, of course, all aspects of love between lovers.

Allende traces the life of Alma Belasco from the time she left Poland in 1939, at the age of eight, to her arrival in San Francisco, to her death in her eighties.  As Alma grows up, she is a witness to the historic events of her time.  World War II and the internment of Japanese-Americans, play an especially important role in her life.

Sent to live with her aunt and uncle, she is saved from the fate that her Jewish parents experienced.  Gradually she becomes an important member of the wealthy, socially prominent Belasco family.

9781501116971_p0_v4_s118x184.jpgAs a young girl she meets and forms a deep friendship with the Japanese son of the Belasco’s gardener.  This friendship turns to love–a love that survives separation, marriages to others, and the social conventions of the time.

The story of their relationship is gradually revealed through a series of letters written by Ichimei to Alma through many years.

Equally important to the story are the members of Alma’s adopted family, friends she makes at a retirement home, and the many people she interacts with over the course of 80 years.

Allende has written the story of a woman who becomes her own person pursuing her dreams and the man she always loved.


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