The Woman in the White Kimono

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Member Reviews

Riveting and harrowing. This book is so well written, giving insights into Japanese life and culture. I was interested in  the Japanese language and explanations. The story of an upper class girl falling in love with an American Marine, their struggle to be together and the birth of their child, this is Interwoven with an American journalists trying to find out about her Fathers past life. Little known facts about the mixed race children born to Japanese women.
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This book is different from those I normally read but I can’t recommend it highly enough. The storyline weaves between present day USA and 1950’s Japan and with each chapter the threads of the story are pulled a little closer together. It introduced me to an area of history which I was largely ignorant of, and which I now want to explore further. If you read this book I feel it will stay with you for a long time.
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I love historical fiction written in deal timeline format. It's even better if there's another country involved, so it's richer. And I absolutely adored this book. It's set in present day America, post-war Japan 1957 and present day Japan.
It's beautifully written talking about many issues like arranged marriage, family traditions, loss in Post-war Japan. It's hopeful at times, and heartbreaking at others. It's very well written & poignant. It will definitely reach to your heart. 
Thanks a lot to Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Fantastic historical fiction book with a dual timeline. The first timeline is set in Japan in 1957 and the second is set in America in the present day. The writing is great and I found it easy to settle into the flow of the story. If you enjoy historical fiction books, then you need to check this one out.
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This is a beautifully  written first novel by Ana Johns. It is set in present day America and post-war Japan 1957 and present day Japan.
It covers love,arranged marriage, pregnancy , family traditions, hope, heartbreak and loss in Post-war Japan. A very poignant book which brought tears to my eyes at the end.
Thank you to Netgalley for an A.r.c. Also to the author for writing such an excellent book about Japanese post-war history and the notes at the end of the book.
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The woman in The White Kimono is not my usual 'go for it book'. O no. It's going more into historical fiction side that mostly wasn't my cup of tea.
Yet here I am giving this one five stars and having my emotions all over the place.
This story is told in two spans of time:
1. 1957 - a story of a young girl that fell for an American man and her family is against their marriage. This part of the story was devastating as it was from Naoko's perspective that just wanted to have her loved ones and be true to herself.
2. Present time - a woman learns something about her fathers past. Nothing is what it seemed. One thing makes her decide that it's time to discover the past of her father.
How are those two women connected? Will it be what everyone was expecting in the end?
Read this beautiful and cry worthy book to find out.
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The Woman in the White Kimono is a heartwrenching novel, yet it does contain hope an persistance. I loved the writing style of the author and the book contains several nuggets of wisdom, such as “Worrying gives small things big shadows.”.

In general, it's a beautifully written book about a dark chapter of Japan's history.
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The Woman in the White Kimono is a dual timeline story of a woman, Tori, whose father is dying in present day America, and a Japanese woman who wants to marry a gaijin post-WW2 Japan (1957).

There are some good lines in this novel—like, if you’re going to eat poison, you may as well clean your plate—credited to the grandmother of the Japanese woman, Naoko. That’s the love story portion of the book. The other storyline is about a daughter losing her father, a very personal plot for me. 

Without giving too much away, after Tori’s father passes, she reads a letter with a shocking revelation she can no longer discuss with her dad. Luckily, she’s an investigative journalist so this is kind of her jam. She chases down a personal story across the world.

Meanwhile, in the Japan timeline, Naoko is a pregnant newlywed and her husband is away frequently. During a two-week solo, she tries to ignore what her grandmother taught her long ago—bad omens that seem to keep piling up in her life. It wouldn’t be an interesting novel if everything went smoothly now would it?

This novel had many moving quotes. Below are just a few that spoke to me.

“In life, the wise make their own heaven while the fool complains of hell, but I think both are inevitable, and both are temporary.”

“Worrying gives small things big shadows.”

“Sorrow and happiness do not pass. They burrow in deep and become our bones. We stand on their uneven legs, trying to keep balance when there is none. There is only love.”

This is a moving, remarkable story about the love between a parent and a child.
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The woman in the white kimino is a heart wrenching story for historical fiction fans. The book switches between the present and past  with Tori's and Naoko's perspective. 

1959's Japan shows us Naoko who is in love with an American soldier. This is shameful to her family, who do not support the match . Finding herself pregnant she is torn from her family and must make decisions which will follow her for a lifetime. 

The present day is set in the US with Tori the daughter of an American solider, who is terminally ill. She recieves a letter that will take her on a journey to Japan to discover her father's lifelong secret. 

I found myself unable to stop reading for wanting to find out how Naokos story ended and  how it entwined with Tori's. The ending was  heartbreaking and hit me on quite a personal level for several reasons.

The author explains the elements of truth to the story which makes it all the more harrowing for me. A brilliant debut novel from Ana John's.
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I have just devoured this stunning piece of literature and wish I could re-read it for the first time.  It's the kind of book I feel the need to hug close to me after.  It moved me to tears and made my heart soar.  Though told in two different times, the story flowed beautifully.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book, enjoy.
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An exceptionally told story. 

The story is told in two timelines- 1950s and present day. 
The writing style is both poetic and beautiful. 
This book has a powerful and poignant story. I would recommend this book for fans of historical fiction
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The Woman in the White Kimono is predominantly set in Japan during the late 1950s, as well as present day, and is told from two different perspectives; Tori, a young journalist who journeys to Japan after her father's death to unravel the secrets of his past and to find the family he may have left behind, and Naoko, a young Japanese girl whose forbidden love for an American soldier will change her life forever.

The prose is vivid and expressive. The characters are multi-layered, vulnerable, and resilient. And the plot is a profoundly moving tale about life, love, familial relationships, heartbreak, loss, guilt, grief, desperation, courage, hope, and regret.
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A brilliant debut novel which is a love story but also a history lesson into the post war liaison of America servicemen and Japanese women and the consequences of their actions.
It tells how the different values of both societies dealt with these relationships with devastating consequences
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Ana Johns' novel exposes a bitter consequence of the war and subsequent occupation of Japan by Americans. I do not want to give away the story, but young Japanese girls who carried the fetuses of American soldiers, were shunned by both the soldiers and their own families, half breeds were impure and would only bring curses to them. It was considered preferable to sacrifice the babies, to spare themselves and the babies a lifetime of misery. The Woman in the White Kimono, is the story of Naoko, and Hajime, a young Marine,in 1957 Japan,  and Tori and her dad Jimmy (Hajime) in present day America. In telling Jimmy's  story, Ana Johns tells the story that belongs to the marines, the Japanese young women, and all the babies who may, or may not, have survived. I appreciate all the research that went into creating this fictional interpretation of actual events. This is definitely a 5 star read. Thank you #netgalley for the digital copy of #thwomaninthewhitekimono. In stores now.
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A remarkable and well written story.  The weaving of past (Japan of 1957) and present bring about a wonderful and emotional story of forbidden love, pregnancy, a secret family.
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** Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review **
Muy bella historia. El genero ficción histórica es muy interesante, y este libro es un gran representante del mismo. Ademas me encanta que haya cosas de la cultura japonesa, que me parece interesante, cautivante y hermosa. Es una historia llena de decisiones difíciles, pero también esperanza. Una historia llena de emociones, evocativa y conmovedora.
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I liked this book, however unlike some of the other reviewers I did find it a bit slow. However, overall I felt I expanded my knowledge and would recommend it to others.
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Ana Johns debut novel is certainly strong.  This story, related by  two distinct voices, alternates between late 1950's Japan and both America and Japan today.  The historical sections are beautifully set and the characters complex and layered.  The modern day characters seem a little lighter, not quite as dimensional.  I really appreciated the research Ms Johns must have done in order to make the story come alive.  At times, the story could become quite disturbing, and I found myself upset by the post-war Japanese culture of the 1950's. I really appreciated the way Ms Johns interwove the stories and I was quite entertained by the experience.  I believe The Woman in the White Kimono would make an excellent book discussion selection, as there is much to debate and discuss. 3.5
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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1957, Japan: The time has come for seventeen year old Naoko's family to organise a tradition, arranged marriage for their daughter. Naoko has agreed to meet their preferred suitor - the son of one of her father's business associates - on the condition that they will also consider her choice of partner too. The only problem is that they do not know the man she loves is a sailor in the American Navy - a gaiijin (foreigner).

As soon as Naoko's sailor comes to her house to meet her family, they are appalled by the thought of a marriage that could bring shame upon them. Little do they know that Naoko already carries her American lover's child. She is forced to flee her family home for a chance to marry for love and her choice will change the course of her life.

Present day, America: Tori Kovac is caring for her dying father and finds a letter that changes everything she thought she knew about him. This letter takes her half-way across the world on a quest to find out the truth behind her father's stories about when he was stationed in Japan in the 1950's. What she finds there will make her reassess what kind of man her father really was. The real story of his time in Japan will break her heart.


This book will take you back in time to a Japan which is trying to get back on its feet after the Second World War. The American occupation of Japan had come to an end, but American sailors were still everywhere and many Japanese girls were tempted into romantic entanglements with them.

Naoko is a young Japanese girl who falls in love with a man that her family, and countrymen, sadly cannot bring themselves to accept. She desperately wants to settle down with her blue-eyed sailor, and the reality of such a relationship at this time cannot change her mind. A marriage to a gaiijin is unthinkable and would bring great shame in the minds of her family, stuck as they are in the past.

Such relationships were looked upon as taboo and the girls were often ostracised by their families, especially if they became pregnant. The mixed-race babies born of such romances were not accepted by the Japanese population in general - many were abandoned in orphanages, or in the worst cases, simply left to die. There are horrific tales to tell about these girls and their babies, and this book touches upon their sad stories.

The lucky girls who managed to marry their American suitors and make it to America at least had a chance to live a happy life, even if the American population were not welcoming. It was often hard to get permission to bring a Japanese bride home to America though, and many girls were abandoned to their fate in Japan.

This book is beautifully written and the story weaves back and forth in time, following the threads of Naoko's story, in between Tori's quest for the truth - but the full heartbreaking reality of what happened as a result of the forbidden romance between Tori's father and Naoko only becomes clear at the very end of the book.

This is the kind of book that you will find yourself thinking about for quite a while after you have finished it. It is so incredibly sad, but told with such mesmerising skill that you can't help racing through the pages - even if you know your heart is going to break.

I should also mention that the book cover is one of the most beautiful I have seen for a long time.
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One of the nicest books I have read, I both could not wait and did not want it to end in equal measures.  The chracters were easy to love and it was a flowing tale of times past and cultural divides.
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