The Japanese Lover

A Novel

The Japanese Lover

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.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501116995 | 
  • July 2016
List Price $16.00 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Japanese Lover includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
 

Introduction

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco is sent away to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle in California. Her life is quickly changed when she meets the son of her aunt’s gardener, Ichimei Fukuda. Young love blossoms between them, until they are cruelly separated when Ichimei and his family are relocated to a Japanese-American internment camp. Throughout their lifetimes, they manage to reunite again and again, but theirs is a love they are forever forced to hide from the prejudiced eyes of the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her life and forges a friendship with Irina Bazili—a care worker with her own troubled past—at a nursing home in California. As Irina begins to form a relationship with Alma’s grandson, Seth, the pair investigates a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma in an effort to uncover the secret of Alma’s mysterious Japanese lover.

 
Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. As Alma Belasco reflects on her see more

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About the Author

Isabel Allende
(c) Lori Barra

Isabel Allende

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including The House of the SpiritsOf Love and ShadowsEva LunaThe Stories of Eva LunaPaula, and The Japanese Lover. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages and have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. She divides her time between California and Chile.

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