This novel was a good, easy read for those who like to lose themselves in the fairy-tale like world of an Isabel Allende novel. It tells the story of Alma Mendel, a young Jewish girl from Poland whose parents sent to live with an aunt and uncle in California just before the start of the World War II. Her cousin Nathaniel, whom she eventually marries, is another important character. So is Ichimei, the Japonese gardener’s son. And when Alma is already quite old and a widow for a long time, Irina, a young Moldavian immigrant with a troubled past, enters a life and is an important player in the story. Along with Seth, Alma’s grandson, she tries to unravel Alma’s many secrets. Some turned out to be real surprises for me.
As with other Isabel Allende novels, it features some kind of magic: ghost-like apparitions, people returning from the dead (well, not really!), and too many coincidences to be realistic. But well, I do read books to be told a story, not only to dissect reality, and in this way, this book does not disappoint. Even though this is not the best in the bunch, she can still spin a good yarn.
Allende, Isabel. El amante japonés. Vintage Español, New York, 2015.