Isabel Allende once again offers her readers a feast of fine characters and strong narrative in her latest novel, The Japanese Lover. Unlike the magical realism of her earlier books, this love story falls in line with her more recent novels as Allende peels back the layers of the unique personalities she brings to life. Allende’s words are carefully chosen as she builds the plot slowly, piece by piece.
The novel moves easily back and forth through time as well as between characters. Meet Alma Belasco, an elderly woman who strikes up a friendship with Irina Bazili, one of the caregivers at the home where Alma has recently moved. Alma’s story begins in Poland during the 1939 collapse. Irina buries her own painful story by immersing herself in loving and caring for Alma. Irina meets
Alma’s grandson Seth, and a friendship grows as the two explore the secrets of Alma’s life. They piece together Alma’s childhood friendship, love, and long relationship with Ichimei Fakuda, the gardener’s son, who was interned with thousands of other Japanese when Alma was a child. Alma lives her life fully, adapting to uncontrollable circumstances with vitality even as she ages. (Atria)