Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.
Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—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 Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns Review
Gripping Novel About the Tragedy of Mixed Race Relationships in Post-War Japan.
Years ago when I was studying in Italy I watched a mesmerising outdoor performance of Madame Butterfly. I loved the beautiful music but was also captivated by the terrible misery of the story itself. Since then I have been intrigued by the clash of cultures caused by American servicemen stationed in Asia at that time.
I was thrilled to find out that The Woman in the White Kimono is partly set in Japan and deals with similar issues to Madame Butterfly. The book is set after World War II and is about a seventeen-year-old Japanese girl called Nakao. She becomes involved with an American serviceman and her actions have serious ramifications for both her and her whole family.
The other part of the book is set in modern day America. It is through Tori Kovac, a descendant of the serviceman, that we travel to modern-day Japan and learn more about Nakao’s story.
Ana Johns based this book on a real event in her own family and the story is beautifully researched. The sadness and heartbreak that resulted from these connections weren’t unusual at this time and she tells her tale well.
My favourite part of the book though is Nakao herself. She is a strong character and does not let fate sweep her blindly along. This of course often makes her situation worse (and made me cry), but she is definitely a fighter.
I read The Woman in the White Kimono in just one day during the Easter holidays. The kids watched a lot of TV that day but the story took hold of me and I just didn’t want to put it down. It was a great book and I loved it.