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The Woman in the White Kimono

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  6,030 ratings  ·  692 reviews
Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring gre
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Park Row
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully-told work of historical fiction! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

The Woman in the White Kimono is told in two timelines. The first is Japan in the 1950s.

Naoko Nakamura’s arranged marriage to the son of a friend of her father’s is important to reinforce the status of her family in the community; however, Naoko loves another. She’s in love with a gaijin, an American sailor.

To marry an American would be shameful for her and her family. Naoko becomes pregnant, and she is cut out of her family and left
What have I just read! Oh boy, I am in shock.
I loved this so much!

When asked by the publishers if I’d like to consider reading this, I read the blurb.

I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers and after reading the blurb on this book, my thoughts were, oh, set in Japan about an arranged marriage, seems pretty simple, obviously she didn’t want to marry her suitor.

Was I wrong!
Well....I was right but not in the full sense of this.

It’s not what I thought, it’s not “just” a love story it’s so very much mor
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥. 𝐄𝐯𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞. 𝐌𝐞𝐬𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠.

Ana Johns swept me away with her words and her stunning storytelling. Two women, two countries, thousands of miles and decades of years apart, but there is something that binds them. Japan 1957 Naoko finds herself caught between love, culture, and family obligations. Naoko is 17 and her parents have arranged a marriage for her, a marriage that will help her family’s business out immensely. The problem is Naoko is in love with another man, an American soldier. N
Aga Durka
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“...worry gives a small thing big shadows.”

“The Woman in the White Kimono” is a mesmerizing and emotional read. This is why I love historical fiction genre so much, books like this one truly captivate me, give me all the feelings, but also every single time, allow me to learn new things. This story is poetic, hypnotic, and elegant while it also digs deep into the history of Japanese women during WW2, who found love in less than traditional places. Women ostracized for whom they loved, disowned b
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

Each step I took brought me closer to my future and farther away from my family. It was a contrast of extremes in every sense, but I had somehow found my place between them. That was what Buddha called the middle way. The correct balance of life. I called it happy. A life with love is happy. A life for love is foolish. A life of if only is unbearable. In my seventy-eight years, I have had all three.

“Chase two hares and you will catch neither,” says Grandmother. This is but a sing
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book for free from TLC Book Tours as part of a review tour.

This was such a heartbreaking read! It was sad, yet beautifully written.

This book has dual storylines, but I loved that the author really let the historical story shine! Naoko’s story was the more interesting of the two, so I was glad that the author devoted more time to it and was able to really flesh it out.


The subject matter of the book touches upon a very unknown part of history. It deals with the relatio
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in present day and 1950s Japan, we follow two women’s paths in life. Not really knowing much about post-war Japan, the writer successfully portrays a rigid culture that was immediately immersive and completely compelling.

I loved this book from the opening pages and felt that I could have easily read this in one sitting. Drawn in by the beautiful cover, the narrative itself is equally beautiful. The writer often makes references to Japanese folklore and proverbs and this enriched the story ev
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've seen Woman in the White Kimono compared to Memoirs of a Geisha.

I've read both.

As someone who has lived in Japan, married to a Japanese, and watches plenty of Japanese TV, my personal opinion is that Woman in the White Kimono is so much better. The meticulous research that went into the time period is coupled with an amazingly authentic voice, where a glorious narrative evokes emotional highs and lows. It's a poignant story of love, loss, and redemption.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, beautiful, and incredibly heartwrenching!

The Woman in the White Kimono is predominantly set in Japan during the late 1950s, as well as present day, and is told from two different perspectives; Tori, a young journalist who journeys to Japan after her father's death to unravel the secrets of his past and to find the family he may have left behind, and Naoko, a young Japanese girl whose forbidden love for an American soldier will change her life forever.

The prose is vivid and expressive.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
The author's debut novel, The Woman in the White Kimono is about two women, oceans and decades apart and the one secret that binds them together.

When Tori Kovac's dying father hands her a letter, she has no idea that it will change her life forever. As the chapters alternate between the present and 1950s Japan, Tori tries to discover the whereabouts of the Japanese woman that her father loved and the family that she still might have.

This was simply one of the most beautiful stories that I h
Jiny S
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Literary Soirée
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
👘 👘 👘 👘 👘

A heartbreaking story of two cultures in two time periods: Japan 1957 and America today. In Japan, Naoko Nakamura falls in love with an American sailor with tragic effects. In the U.S. years later, Tori Kovac discovers a letter revealing family secrets that shock to the core. She travels to remote seaside Japan to uncover the truth and finds her authentic home in this gorgeously written novel that sheds poignant light on a gut-wrenching time in Japanese and American history. A deeply mo
Karen KK
I received this from for a review.

Japan 1957, Naoko goes against tradition and her parents wishes by marrying an American and bringing great shame upon her entire family. America, present day. Tori Kovac, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation.

Fairly quick and predictable (sappy) read. More Chick Lit than Historical Fiction.

I am not sure I have enough superlatives to describe this book!

Ana Johns has done an amazing job with this novel. The characters are so incredibly believable you will feel their every emotion, and you will be rooting for the love of two people to prevail and overcome the cultural traditions and taboos they face.

The book goes back and forth between the present time in the United States to Japan in the 1950's, where the main character, Naoko Nakamura, falls in love with a "gaijin" (an American) s
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

I picked up Ana Johns’ The Woman in the White Kimono on the cover image alone. I didn’t read the jacket description until the ARC was on my kindle and when I finally did get around to looking at it, I groaned in exasperation as my personal tastes don’t lend themselves to post-WWII fiction.

To make a long story short, I was not convinced this novel would suit and was caught entirely off guard when I fell utterly in love with t
This is a story told in two parts by two women—Naoko's story when she was 17 in 1957 and her American sailor. The second part of the story is told in present-day with Tori Kovac and a letter her dad hands to her as he is dying from cancer that was returned from Japan and talking about his daughter. The two tales are interwoven as they head towards a climactic ending that may end up merging their lives.

Honestly, this book was emotionally hard to read from the very beginning. Naoko had crappy sev
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The Woman In The White Kimono is a story about two women who live decades apart. By chance, the present day woman learns that she may have a significant connection to another woman because of a past event. It's a puzzle that she decides to solve. Present day woman goes in search of the truth. It's possibly a life changing journey. The story is beautiful and poetic in its language and flow. I was quite as interested as I thought I would be, but I liked it well enough to read the entire story. It' ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I read an early copy of The Woman in White Kimono. The writing and the haunting story blew me away. Sometimes in novels with dual storylines, I find one character's arc falls flat. In Woman in White, the interplay between them was great and kept me turning the page. The characters are smart, strong, and real--even the ones I didn't like, unfortunately! I love historical fiction that introduces me to events or time periods I know nothing about. If I finish the book and start googling the time per ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019

So uhm, I loved this?? I was anticipating this book the past few months and I’m SO HAPPY I found it omg. Full review will come later but in short this was heart breaking, beautifully written, a beautiful story and reminded me of “Three Souls” meets “The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo.” Yes. Let that sink in.
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A story of two women who are oceans and decades apart but bound together by the secrets between them and of course by destiny as well.

The story progesses with the narratives of Naoko Nakamura and Tori Kavač from different timelines and colliding together in the present. Each knows a part of a story; a story of a teenage boy and the man that he would become.
Japan, 1957
Seventeen years old Naoko, stubborn, desperate, angry at the world and in love with an American boy wants a life full of love
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book a full 5-star rating – I definitely enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would! Stories about uncovering hidden secrets and finding pieces of your family history are fascinating to me, but I have never read one based on an Asian background, or any background other than the UK or the US, actually. Nonetheless, The Woman in the White Kimono was absolutely a welcome change to the typical self-discovery novel.

The Woman in the White Kimono is very much character-driven, with a lo
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
This book started so slooooooow. Omg it was sooooo slow. I would have given up, if I had not read it with someone else.

So I sped it up to 2.2x, and then it got a bit better. At least I got it over more quickly.

See the thing that ruined it was the prologue. On page 1 I learned what would happen., and srsy what is the point of reading on!? Even with books where I know that they totally will die I still have hope. Here I had none.


The guy should have fought more.
At the end what was the point of
Sarah 🌺 Books in Their Natural Habitat
I’ve been eager to write about The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns since finishing it an whole half an hour ago but, as I’m sitting here, I’m having a hard to putting into words how much the book made me feel.

I knew within the first quarter of this book that it was hands down a five-star top-notch book that I needed to share. Naoko is a young Japanese woman at the age where marriage is arranged. But in post-war Japan, things have changed. Although Naoko has a suitor who is not at all what
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
3.5 STARS - This debut Historical Fiction novel takes readers into the lives of two women - Naoko Nakamura, a Japanese young woman in the 1950's and Tori Kovac, an American woman in present day who unearths secrets from her father's past. Through these two characters, Johns explores Japanese culture, interracial marriage, prejudice and the pressure to meet traditional Japanese cultural ideals.

Johns has written a heart wrenching story set during and after WWII. Descriptions of Japan are detailed
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This was the author's first book and I am curious to see her develop as a writer. She's got the goods. An intriguing premise, looking at the dark past of inter-racial relationships and babies between Japanese women and American servicemen stationed in the Far East. Both the Japanese and Americans were opposed to the relationships and babies, so what happened? Johns uses this as a jumping off point for her story of Nakao and Jimmy's tragic love story. Decades later, Jimmy's daughter Tori discover ...more
No rating. After 3 attempts for 50 pages each I'm giving this one up.

It's not only the plot or the characters either. I just don't enjoy and cannot abide the writing style. For me it's almost as if the sentence order or wording is "out of sequence" or something. It's like salmon trying to climb 20 foot inclines upstream to get to their spawn creeks. Can't do it. I reread and some of it is like word salad.

There is an invasive mood too that is off putting. Sorry- not at all my kind of book- far to
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Two Women
Two Timelines
One Incredible story

THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE KIMONO is a beautifully written and incredibly heart wrenching historical fiction novel written by Ana Johns. The story is told through the eyes of a young Japanese girl in the ‘50s whose story is about the forbidden love for an American soldier, and Tori, a young journalist current day who journeys to Japan after some discovery after her father’s death.

Ana Johns gives these two women a strong and beautiful voice and tells their po
Elena L.
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am always excited to read about Asian culture/history and I couldn't pass this one.

THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE KIMONO is a beautifully written story that follows the lives of Naoko Nakamura and Tori Kovac. Told in the perspectives of these characters in two different timelines (1950's and present day), this book explores Japanese culture, love, interracial marriage, ostracism/discrimination, family pressure and post-WWII reality.

This book brings us back to Japan, describing its post-war reality in
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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, an instant Globe and Mail & Toronto Star bestseller & BBC Radio2 Book Club Pick is available in 17 languages and is her first historical fiction.

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Did you set an extremely ambitious Reading Challenge goal back in January? And has this, uh, unprecedented year gotten completely in the way of...
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“A life with love is happy. A life for love is foolish. A life of if only is unbearable. In my seventy-eight years, I have had all three. Grandmother would often say, “So it is with sorrow. So it is with happiness. It will pass.” But even in my old age, when I close my eyes, I can still see the distant flicker of a thousand tiny lights.” 7 likes
“A life with love is happy. A life for love is foolish. A life of if only is unbearable.” 2 likes
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