The Japanese Lover - Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover

By Isabel Allende

  • Release Date: 2015-11-03
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 734 Ratings


From New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende, “a magical and sweeping” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) love story and multigenerational epic that stretches from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during World War II.

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.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover is written with the same keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the Spirits. The Japanese Lover is a moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.


  • Loved this book!

    By Shaneman001
    It’s characters really stand out and bring a warmth that made me dread finishing the book. Highly recommend 😍😍
  • Beautifully understated and refined

    By noturauntmartha
    This was the first book I’ve read by this author. Some reviews here say this book isn’t as good as her previous work. If that is the case, well then I want to gorge myself with all of her writing. I absolutely loved this book. It was a thoughtful and delicate look at the sunset of life. As someone who is currently caring for an elderly parent and one who has spent many years living in Japan - this book truly moved me. It reflects on love, healing, compassion and yes, dying. Much of Japanese culture/religion finds its power in the spaces between. If you study ikebana or ukiyo-e, it’s often the negative space that holds meaning. That’s what I found in this book...just consume and let the pieces fall into place, find the greater meaning outside the narrative.
  • Allende Amazes

    By asapr212
    I so loved this book. I resisted reading it because I did not think I would connect with it. Imagine my surprise - I connected with every page. She surprises with insight, twists and turns of life. Thank you, Isabel. RTR
  • The Japanese Loved

    By mrslindy
    Don't waste your valuable time with this book. I found it extremely boring. I actually made it to the awful ending. This is not this author's best work.
  • Wonderful,elegant story

    By Janet Silver
    Loved this well written book. A pleasure to experience.
  • Great read

    By JamieTrude
    There were a few unexpected twists in this book that added to an already enjoyable read. I liked the layers of different stories - there were just enough (but not too many) to keep the book flowing and interesting. Fairly quick read, which I was looking for.
  • A Japanese Lover

    By Josimex
    I enjoyed this story that weaves together the lives of two families the Belascos and the Fukudas in a passionate love affair between Alma and Ichimei. Allende does a wonderful job of setting the characters in both a past/present San Francisco that highlights important historical events from the 1940s to end of this century. She also does a great job of adding an emotional tapestry that urges to continue reading till the end.
  • Life

    By A n P mamma
    The Japanese Lover was a real depiction of life. The feel of mortality that sets in as we age. It hit home for me as in my 64 I realized I am reaching the pinnacle. I am closer to the top than I care to be. However if we dwell on what is to come we might as well throw ourselves off where we stand. Well written and pleasure to read
  • History and Love

    By Toni FGMAMTC
    This is an epic love story, but really it touches on lots of heavy subjects. It starts right before WWII, and ends in the current decade. Many major events between those times are highlighted: Jewish people fleeing their home countries, Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, war, Japanese Americans being in camps, prejudice between different races, homosexuality, AIDS, sex trafficking, and more. All of these things happen in the lives of the main couple or someone close to them. There are several emotional parts. I didn’t break down crying, but so many things touched my heart. I definitely recommend it.
  • Japanese Lover

    By Denise391
    Wonderful story and historical novel along with being one of the most sensitive renditions on aging I have ever read. It was a tragic love story but life affirming as well.