Sunday, 4 March 2018

Carole'sAudio Review: The Japanese Lover

Author: Isabel Allende; Narrator: Joanna Gleason

Title: The Japanese Lover
Genre: Historical Fiction & Romance
Pages: Audiobook
Published: May 2015
Where I Got It: My shelf (Amazon)

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.

Yayy third audiobook of the year. Blodeuedd will be proud! 

This was a freebie Audible gave me for becoming a member. Which is exciting because I have been wanting to read this for a while now! 

First, the narrator was okay. I liked her voice. She had a way to make you feel. However, I feel that even in the happy moments I was sad and never felt truly happy. Plus, I feel her voice never really changed when she was doing other POVs. Slight changes, but nothing really different. You really had to listen to get when things changed. 

This story was sad. Very sad. There was hope and happiness and this was a reminder to live life to the fullest. By the end of the book, I was depressed. It made me sad. I wanted more for Alma and Ichimei. I wanted more for Irina and Seth. It made me dread getting old. Being an old person sucks. 

The story was intriguing to listen to. You know what happens, but at the same time, you don't. We constantly learn more about Alma and the other characters. When you think you know something, you suddenly learn a secret or you learn of something they did. I loved Alma, but there were things she did that made me shake my head at her.

I do wish the format was different. Maybe if I read the book I would've felt different, but it jumped around a lot and there were a lot of POVs running around. Maybe reading it would've been different. Who knows.  

This was a sad book and I cried a lot. It makes you think. Makes you feel. The author really did a wonderful job showing people. I do want to read more of her work. I recommend either reading or listening. It is a good story, but be warned you will feel and think. 

In the end, I'll stamp this with...mhmmm...3 stars. Nearly a 4, but the format and the narration lowered it a bit. Overall, worth it. I recommend it. Maybe I'll attempt reading it someday. 


  1. That sounds like it would be a very emotional read.

  2. oh I heard lovely things about this, but it does look sad. I feel like a lot of historical fiction books are

  3. I have a hard time with audio of books that have a lot of different povs and jump around. This does sound like an emotional book.

  4. War stories frequently make me cry. This one sounds beautiful. I will probably choose a print format b/c I can get confused with multiple points of view on a good day let alone if the narration doesn't have enough variation in the voice for me to realize someone new is talking.
    Great review, Carole!

  5. It's hard when a narrator brings down a story in the audiobook. So much of the enjoyment of an audiobook hangs on how good the narrator is.

  6. Thanks everyone. For sure emotional but worth it!



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