Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A "Must" For The Romantic In All Of Us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                          Girls, I am telling you, if you cried real tears, as did I, over Jennifer Jones in "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing," this novel is for you!  It has one of the loveliest covers I have seen, which made me both curious and suspicious.  The latter, because I have, in the past, fallen prey to books with striking covers, whose contents failed to satisfy.  However, I had heard enough, over the years, about how good Jamie Ford's novel was, so I took the chance.  And was glad I did.

                                          This is more than a romance; it moves toward Ha Jin territory.  Meaning it is a serious, multi-generational work--a tale of all kinds of love--between sets of parents and children, fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and childhood friends.  All played against the background of the Seattle Chinatown and Japantown communities, and bringing in the heartbreaking issue of the Japanese internment camps.

                                             Henry Lee is the central figure.  In his youth, he befriended a school girl named Keiko Okabe, and friendship turned to love.  But some things are not meant to be, and some are.  Because Henry's father's childhood consisted of attacks on his people by the Japanese, Henry is emotionally disowned by his father, for having the relationship.  He perseveres, going so far as to work a summer job, with a school aide, Mrs. Beatty, at the camp where Keiko and her family are imprisoned.  He visits her as much as possible, then the camp breaks up, letters are written, but soon go unanswered.

                                              The older Henry Lee, in the present day, is discovered to have married a woman named Ethel, now deceased, but survived by his son, Marty, about to marry an American girl, named Samantha.  Keiko is supposedly lost forever; the only person from Henry's past still in his life is Sheldon, a jazz musician, now in a nursing home, important to Henry because of his youth, and used in an interesting way to explore Seattle's underground jazz scene.

                                                How Marty and Samantha join forces to make Henry come to terms with his past and present, and possibly reunite with Keiko, is the heart of this often heartbreaking novel.  As I read the last thirty pages, I was on the verge of losing it, but things end on a hopeful note.  I even figured out how Henry was going to meet Ethel.

                                                If this novel had been written as far back as the Fifties, it would have been optioned instantly for the movies.  But Hollywood today has no idea of subtlety or nuance.  To try to make a film of this now would do the story such injustice.  Let me say, you are better off reading it.

                                                 The book also made me interested in visiting Seattle.  Obviously, there is a lot more of interest there than the house, where "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," was filmed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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