The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende was a huge disappointment to me. I have read other books by Allende and did not find this book to be anywhere near the exceptional quality I have come to expect from this author.
This is a fictional story about a wealthy woman named Alma who lives in a retirement home. She is in her eighties and hires an assistant named Irina to help her organize her paperwork because Alma’s grandson is writing a book about her life.
Long story short, Alma is a woman who was sent to her relatives in San Francisco to escape World War II. Once there, she becomes close friends with the Japanese gardener’s son. They become separated after Pearl Harbor, but rekindle their love for one another after the war. They end-up marrying other people and live separate lives with the exception of a long-standing affair with each other.
The reason I was disenchanted with this book is because I found much of it predictable. Had I not enjoyed previous books by Allende, I would have given up on this one after the first hundred pages. The descriptions of life in the WWII internment camps read like a text-book to me. I never felt anything for the characters in the novel. With the thought that the story must at some point get better, I stuck with it to the bitter end. I regret having done so. Unfortunately, one can’t hit a homerun every time at bat!