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Book Review: The Woman in the White Kimono

If you love to read historical fiction books then don’t miss my book review of The Woman in the White Kimono. I read this book with a local book club and it was a big hit with all our members. I haven’t stopped thinking about this book and it’s one of my favourite reads this year.

Where Are We Touring Today?

The Woman in the White Kimono takes us on a tour to Japan in the 1950’s.

Before I share my book review of The Woman in the White Kimono, here’s the book details…

Book Cover Notes

A BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

Inspired by true stories, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

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. 

Book Quote-The Woman in the White Kimono
Book cover quote The Woman in the White Kimono

America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption. 

Book Review - The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns. Historical fiction based on a true story. Debut novel.

My Thoughts

At the beginning of the story we are introduced to the two main characters. Tori Kovač is a young American woman, in present day America. Whereas Naoko Nakamura, is a young girl growing up in Japan, in the 1950s. With each chapter, the story switches between these woman, sharing their stories and how different their lives have been growing up.

For one, life is strict, dictated by family traditions and cultural expectations. For the other, life is quite privileged, protected and loved. This is ultimately a fictional love story but it is so much more. Both woman have to deal with the loss of loved ones, the intricate relationships with mothers, fathers and family. Wanting to respect others expectations but also wanting to experience life.

Throughout the book there were several thought-provoking Japanese proverbs and words of wisdom. Some of these I have captured to use as prompts for my own thinking and writing.

A Life WITH love is happy. A life FOR love is foolish. A life of IF ONLY is unbearable.

That said, Naoko’s grandmother often used these words of wisdom against her granddaughter. I didn’t like the grandmother’s character, she was very strict and judgemental. She often used Japanese proverbs to warn her granddaughter when she was straying from the ‘cultural path’. Maybe she was afraid of change and concerned that the younger generation would not honour and continue many of the Japanese traditions. Something all cultures around the world face I’m sure.

To understand your direction, you must know both your roots and your reach.


Beautifully written and thought-provoking debut novel. A book that stays with you long after you have finished reading it.

The Woman in the White Kimono is an historical fiction based on true events. When I read the author notes at the back of the book I was truly shocked. I was unaware of the tragic truths that underpin this story. Through her research the author has collated many stories from people impacted by events during this time.

Highly recommended as a Book Club read. My book club thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing this book.

Where To Buy

Amazon UK

Book Cover - Book Review of The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns. Debut Novel, historical fiction
Further Book Info:
  • Published Date: 15 July 2019 (Paperback)
  • Publisher: Legend Press
  • Page Count: 288

About The Author

Ana Johns studied broadcast journalism and worked over twenty-years in the creative arts field, as both a creative director and business owner, before turning her hand to fiction. THE WOMAN in the WHITE KIMONO, a BBC Radio2 Book Club pick, is her first historical fiction.

Where to find Ana online

Website | Facebook

Author Ana Johns
Author Ana Johns

I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of The Woman in the White Kimono.

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Over to you…

Are you in a book club? What has been your clubs favourite book read? Share in the comments below, I’d love new book recommendations for my book club.

Miche xxx

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