Cover Image: The Woman in the White Kimono

The Woman in the White Kimono

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Member Reviews

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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The story is set across two timelines - 1957 Japan and present day America. I found it easy to know which timeline I was in thanks to the headings, but also the two timelines had a very different and distinct feel to them. The Japan timeline was soft and gentle with at times an ethereal quality. While the present day USA felt more frenetic. It was almost as if two different people had written them with the characters voice so unique to each timeline.

I've been to Japan and was really looking forward to being transported back there by this book, and it didn't disappoint. I love time travel books and although this strictly isn't one I felt like I had travelled back to the Japan of 1957 in reading this story. I began to feel like I really was there, I could see it all so clearly in my minds eye.

In the book we meet Naoko who is living in Japan in 1957 and Tori who is living in the USA in the present day. We hear Naoko's story and interwoven into it is Tori, who is trying to reconcile the Father she thought she knew, with the information he's suddenly revealed about his life as he is dying. As the book progressed I really began to root for Naoko. I felt her pain, bewilderment and anticipation at freedom. This was thanks to the atmospheric writing which is also so very beautiful. But not so flowery as to lose the story line. 

Through this book I have discovered another side to Japan that I did not know existed. Many of the prejudices in the 1950s Western world were mirrored in Japan including the thoughts around mixed marriages and their ensuing children, also the children born out of wedlock. This is dealt with very sensitively and the details throughout the book show how well researched the book is. The book is a work of fiction but the author used real events and stories from her own Father to write the story. The author's note at the end of the book made for interesting reading. The tears I was struggling to hold back at this point fell freely, as fiction and truth met.
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The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel by [Johns, Ana]The author of "The Woman in the White Kimono" has a gift of choosing words that drew me into the book quickly. This historical fiction fascinates and captivates. The story takes you into the lives of Japanese women during WWII. These women were ostracized because they found love in nontraditional places. They were cut off from family and loved ones.

The story is written in a beautiful style that shows the author has researched the topic well. I highly recommend this book to those who love historic fiction.

Thank you NetGalley, Legend Press and the author for allowing me to have an advance copy of this book to review. The opinions of this review are entirely my own.
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The Woman In The White Kimono is one of the most powerful and moving books I’ve read for a long time.

Even though I’ve read a lot of books based in the second world war I haven’t read many detailing what happened after the war ended, especially in Japan. I therefore found the setting of this book absolutely fascinating, especially the culture clash between the Japanese and American soldiers. It was very interesting to learn more about the Japanese culture and traditions of that time.

Naoko was an amazing character who I loved reading about. She’s a very strong woman, in a time when woman weren’t expected to be. I found I really admired the strength and resilience that she shows when put in a very difficult situation. I felt a lot of sympathy for her and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens to her.

This was a beautifully written book with the author managing to vividly describe post war Japan so that the reader actually feels like they are there experiencing everything alongside the characters. This also makes the events in the book seem much more hard hitting and emotional as it feels like you know the people that it’s happening to. It’s quite a hard book to put down as it’s so easy to get absorbed into the story and everything that’s happening. This the author’s first historical novel and I hope she writes more very soon.

Huge thanks to Lucy from Legend Press for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this book.
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What an incredible book! I absolutely loved it! Naoko's story of love and hope through adversity and prejudice was beautifully told whilst Tori's brought to attention the reality of how their stories are what people still deal with today. Memories and hidden stories. Everyone trying to protect themselves and their families in whichever way they think is best. I appreciated the inspiration behind the story and I have a lot of respect for how the author told her story and incorporated others' experiences.
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The Woman in the White Kimono By Ana Johns." It is one of the Best books I have ever read.......📖
Ana is a new author and I am so glad I read it..........She writes with so much passion and detail. 
You will fall in love with this story within the first few page and may need a tissue (I did lol) 

"The Woman in the White Kimono" is set in Japan and America. It has similar issues to Madame Butterfly. So if you love Madame butterfly story, this is a book for you. This book is set from 1957, it's about a seventeen year old Japanese girl called Naoko Nakamura. She meets an American serviceman. They marry, it brings 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. 😢

This story is written then and to the present. What happens to her, the baby and the American Sailor. 
What a bloody brilliant Book!

But, Be warned you will need tissues handy, 📕🥰📕

Highly recommend this Book.

A ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ read.

Looking forward reading more of Ana's books when they come out........... Just Brilliant!

"Best Book I have read for a long time Ana!" Thank you xxx

Massive Thank you to Edelweiss, Park Row Publishing, and the author, Ana Johns, for giving me an opportunity to read an early copy of this beautiful book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Recommended on Goodreads, Amazon UK and my Facebook page. Plus purchased the hardback x
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I found this a pleasant enough read but it didn’t get to me the way it seems to have got to so many other readers. I found it quite lightweight, and the characterisation rather hackneyed. Inspired by a true story, the novel tells of two women on opposite sides of the world whose lives collide unexpectedly. Yet another dual-time novel (isn’t this format getting a bit tired now?) we switch between Japan in 1957 and present-day America. Naoko Nakamura is being prepared for her arranged marriage to a man who will bring wealth and status to her family, but unfortunately she has fallen in love with an American – an oh so handsome and too good to be true - sailor stationed in Japan as part of the occupying forces after the war. Bet you can already guess where that part of the story is heading. Then we switch to America where Tori’s beloved father is dying and on his deathbed leaves her a letter telling her about his post-war experiences in Japan. You can fill in the rest of the story for yourself. The research is good and I’ve no doubt that Naoko’s experiences were all too common. It’s a sad story, but let down by the depiction of Naoko herself (so stereotypically Japanese) and Tori (so excitably American). All very predictable and ultimately, for me, quite dull.
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A beautiful, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking story, which dramatizes real situations that arose following the American presence in Japan in the 1950s.

Naoko’s family have chosen her a husband, a good match socially and for her father’s business prospects, and is a pleasant handsome man. Yet Naoko is in love with Hajime, an American GI. She must choose between her family and love.

Her choice of marriage to Hajime leaves her alone and pregnant when the Americans depart. As Hajime’s return is uncertain, Naoko finds herself trapped in a terrifying place.

Years on, Hajime’s US daughter, Tori, visits Japan to seek out the family she never knew.

Could not put this down, highly recommended.
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I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, it's not a genre I'm often drawn to, but I loved this book

This is a story of secrets, family, and tragedy. It follows Naoko, a 17 year old girl in 1950s Japan who falls in love with a white American and Tori, an American taking care of her sick father in the present day

As both narratives progress we begin to learn how they weave together, and that all isn't as Tori believed it to be. I really enjoyed the dual perspective and the two narratives were weaved together beautifully and effortlessly

I loved this book, it has a special place in my heart. I love reading about Japan and Japanese characters, and the subject matter and authors note at the end added such depth to the setting

I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction, but also to people who enjoy general literary fiction and contemporaries. It was fantastically written and I was captivated from the prologue
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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. 
 I receievd a copy of this wonderful book from Netgalley.

The story takes you on a jorney from 1957 til present day. The love story crossing oceans and family members. This story was well told and gave a good background to the time and culture of the settings. You can relate to all involved in the story of true love and heartache. Not all good love stories have a happy ending and sometimes that is what makes a good book.
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Very moving book full of interesting information about Japanese culture with particular reference to post war Japan. There are 2 linked stories woven together. Beautifully written with a deep knowledge of the situation at the time. A sad story with an explained conclusion. I definitely recommend this book.
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This is a beautiful, but tragic novel based partly on the real life of the author's father and his time as a US sailor in the 1950s in Japan.
It has two time strands. Firstly we are in the present day with Tori Kovac who is caring for her dying fatherwhen he tells her of secrets and love from his past life before he met and married Tori's mother. There are many links brought to the fore. A beautiful silk scarf, a letter for a past love and the memory of a child that passed through time and lives today.
Meanwhile we are taken back to the life of Naoko Nakamura who is set to marry Satoshi, the son of a wealthy local man and chosen by Naoko's family who arrange a tea ceremony to finalise the details. But Naoko has met an American sailor now called Hajime and fallen in love with him. When his attendance at the family tea ceremony goes wrong because he has come in uniform and is still seen as the 'enemy', Naoko turns her back on her family and established Japanese family traditions to start a life with the man she loves. Discovering she is pregnant Noako waves off Hajime as he must go off on a naval mission but with him gone events will dramatically change her life forever.
This is beautifully written and captures the scenery and senses of Japanese culture. The incense, the flowers and the clothes (including the white marriage kimono of the books title) are central to the plot as it develops..
We hear the author's vice through Tori as she uncovers the journey her father made and undertakes it herself. Based on true facts about over 10,000 babies born to American servicemen and Japanese women before, during and after the occupation of Japan, we see how the stigma of mixed birth babies that resulted were often going to end in orphanages, adopted or as with many in this novel dead. But even the babies who die are transported in Japanese culture by the jizo statues that mark their graves and add to the many aspects of Japanese life and death that we learn as readers.
A heartfelt story beautifully told it will stay long in the memory and once again remind us of when love finds opposition it does not always end in tragedy. Would greatly recommend as a wonderful but emotional read.
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