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The Japanese Lover by Isabel AllendeIn 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belascos 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 familys 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 Franciscos 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.
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Allende has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author. Allende's novels are often based upon her personal experience and historical events and pay homage to the lives of women, while weaving together elements of myth and realism. She has lectured and toured many U. Fluent in English as a second language, Allende was granted United States citizenship in , having lived in California since , first with her U. S husband from whom she is now separated. Her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende , President of Chile from to
For the past six decades, Isabel Allende and her mother, Francisca, have written to one another almost every day, first by post and latterly via email. The Chilean author, who is 73, keeps the correspondence in a closet, classified by year. Recently, for the first time, she began archiving the daily letters digitally, delving into her past to discover how much she has changed — and how little.
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Isabel Allende has built her reputation on romantic love. No character is so minor as to lack a back story. At the same time, no character, including Alma and Irina, manages to fill in his or her outlines and command our undivided attention. More problematic is the very real history forging the lives of its residents, particularly Alma. But the headlines vanish quickly and almost without leaving a mark. A prominent midcentury Jewish family never encounters anti-Semitism: They are welcomed at the best clubs and debutante parties; their son attends Harvard with no mention of quotas.