Thursday, June 9, 2016

Novel Of The Week: My Beloved Yuriko by Antonietta Pastore

This moving love story, set during the last couple of years of WWII, is narrated from a person who's completely estranged from the main protagonists, yet her life and Yuriko's are going to collide at some point. Here's to you my review and thoughts of My Beloved Yuriko by Antonietta Pastore.
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I don't usually read books where the narrator and the protagonist are the same person, but I didn't mind this time...Antonietta Pastore moved to Osaka, Japan back in the '80s, after she got married with a Japanese man. In Osaka she met his husband's family, among which aunt Yuriko 
(the one from the title, yes!) caught her attention and gets to know, a little at a time, her story:

Yuriko was first introduced to Shimazu "Yoshi" Yoshiaki thanks to her brother-in-law and after a while they got married on the island of Etajima, near Hiroshima. Shortly after their wedding, Yoshi is dispatched in the Philippines, but he keeps writing letters to Yuriko, dreaming of the day they could finally start their life together. They both survive hunger, hard days and destruction...and yet a little after the end of the war they file for divorce...all of their friends and family were shocked, it was undeniable that the two of them were so much in love but no one ever knew why they did so.


Testimony of an era and a culture far from the western one, this novel may be short, but every single word stays with you long after you finish reading them.

Antonietta intertwined very well her personal experience as a 'gaijin' (a stranger, an outlander) with Yuriko's, a girl who has been often in constrast with her own desires and culture.

This is not for sure your "usual" romance during war times, but "a Love in the time of the atomic bomb" (I took the liberity of quoting this phrase, which I read on a newspaper but I don't remember the journalist, anyway it's fair to give him/her credit for it!).
As far as I'm concerned I find the story splendid, very well written and understandable, although occasionally there are some words and terms in Japanese (it's no coincidence that the author is the Italian translator of Haruki Murakami).

I suggest the reading to anyone who's looking for contrasted love stories, from both historical events and characters. To who loves the "Land of the Rising Sun" and is curious about oriental uses and costumes.

My vote: 9/10

Related books are:  
- Socrates in Love by Kyōichi Katayama, my review HERE
- Winter of the World by Ken Follett, my review HERE

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