Title: The Woman in the White Kimono
Author: Ana Johns
Length: 298 pages
Publisher: Legend Press
I was so thrilled to be asked to join this wonderful blog tour for ‘The Woman in the White Kimono’. I couldn’t wait to get started on the book
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations. America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to a learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave way for redemption.
‘A white mist rose from the curved clay tiles as the sun warmed the morning dew and rolled over the edge like the dangling petals of a cherry blossom in a ornamental hair comb. Backlit by the sun, the large, white-walled structure almost glowed. There was a quiet, understated elegance to how it perched atop the hillside.’
This book was a wonderful, heartfelt trip into post-war Japan.
With the story being set in present day America and Japan in 1957, it could be tricky to blend to two stories, but they work so cohesively together. Both times in the story are absolutely wonderful to read, but there’s something special about the story when it’s set in Japan.
Naoko is such a warm, compelling character. I just connected to her right from the start. I just immediately felt for. She’s been bought in the traditional Japanese way but her spirit, her attitude is so modern. To see her struggle between the two is heart wrenching to read.
I loved the relationship between Naoko and Hajime. It was so sincere and true. Even though you know how this love story will end, I was still rooting for them. Their love story was presented in the perfect way, it was grand and dramatic. It was honest. It was real.
In the present day American timeline, the reader sees the story through Tori’s eyes. We are discovering everything at the same time as her. It keeps this part of the story interesting and moving at a nice pace.
For me, what makes a great historical fiction novel is that it can teach you something. This book did. I didn’t know to much about this time in Japan, and I couldn’t even of imagined the things that happened. I had no idea those kind of ‘Maternity Homes’ existed. It a really powerful moment in the book when Naoko finds out what’s happening.
Now, the ending, although I know how the story reaches its conclusion, I was excited to see how each character got their ending. And it didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It was so pleasing. The conversation between Naoko and Tori bought tears to my eyes. Such a satisfying ending.
The reason this novel works is because of Ana Johns superb writing. She’s formed such fantastic characters. Also, the descriptions of the scenery, of Japan, are stunning. It’s so evocative. The whole book. The fact that is Ana Johns debut book is crazy. Whatever she writes next, I’ll sure be reading it.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’ll have you hooked from the beginning till the end. It’s also been picked as a selection for BBCRadio2’s bookclub. How amazing is that!
I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. Thanks Legend Press.
Until the next review