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The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende is a novel that chronicles a forbidden but passionate romance that grows between two people over time, and how this relationship touches the lives of others over the course of several decades. Much of the book is set in San Francisco during and after World War II, when tensions were high between the United States and Japan and between Nazi Germany and European Jews; both conflicts impact the formation of the relationship at the heart of the novel.
Irina Bazili is a young girl with no family and a dark past who comes to work at Lark House, a senior residence and home for convalescents. One of her patients is the vivacious screen printer Alma Belasco. Alma takes Irina under her wing as her assistant, and over time Irina comes to learn more about Alma and the reasoning behind some of her mysterious habits, such as disappearing for days at a time unannounced or receiving yellow envelopes and gardenias from anonymous senders....
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