Looking for something to read over the weekend ?
Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?
Take a look at my Friday Favorite. It may be new. It may be old. It may be written by a famous author, or by someone you have never heard of. But wherever in the spectrum it falls, it will be a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.
EXCERPT: In Lark House, where there was a depressing majority of women, Jacques Devine was considered the star attraction,the only heart-throb among the twenty-eight male residents. He was known as Frenchie, not because he had been born in France, but because of his exquisite manners – he held the doors open for the ladies, pulled their chairsback for them, and never went around with his fly unzipped – and because he could dance, despite his fossilized spine. At the age of ninety he walked with a straight back thanks to the rods and screws that had been surgically attached to it. He still sported some of his curly head of hair and knew how to play cards, at which he cheated shamelessly. He was sound in body, apart from the usual arthritis, high blood pressure, and deafness, inevitable in the winter of life, and quite lucid, although not sufficiently to recall whether he had had lunch or not. That was why he was on the second level, where he received all the help he needed. He had arrived in Lark House with his third wife, but she had only survived for a few weeks before being run over in the street by an absent minded cyclist.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: Allende is an author I have come to late in life, and one whom I have come to love.
She writes sweepingly majestic tales full of human frailty, and passion, and deceit and love. Her characters are so very human; they are people we know and love. By the end of this book, they felt like family and friends to me.
The Japanese Lover swings from present day to Alma’s, Irina’s and Ichimai’s pasts and back again, but does so seamlessly and to great effect. Allende’s writing is, as always, beautiful, evocative and haunting.
Although I listened to it on audio (and the narrator Joanna Gleeson was superb), this is a book I will be buying to keep, one I will return to time and again.
THE AUTHOR: Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the “magic realism” tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at several US colleges. She currently resides in California with her husband. Allende adopted U.S. citizenship in 2003.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, narrated by Joanna Gleeson, published by Simon and Schuster Audio via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1583666333