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The Woman in the White Kimono

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  35 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
Expected publication: May 28th 2019 by Park Row
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4.31  · 
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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
Karen Kay
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.

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.
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
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
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Judy Huston
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished an early readers edition. Ana Johns takes us on a journey of love and life filled with all the challenges and vulnerability encountered when facing the unexpected as emotions pave the way. Her sensitive and brilliant writing not only opens our hearts and fills us with compassion at the impossible situation of this young cross-cultural couple struggling to share a life that seems beyond their ability to control but illustrates how our choices have a ripple effect through time and ...more
Mary Lins
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
“The Woman in the White Kimono”, by Ana Johns, alternates poignant personal stories between Japan in 1957 and 17-year old Naoko, and America present day, investigative journalist Tori, the daughter of an American sailor stationed in Japan in the mid-1950s. Of course their stories will connect, but exactly HOW their stories will resolve is what keeps the reader turning the pages.

Japanese post-WWII customs, culture, and atrocities, are beautifully and unflinchingly documented through Naoko’s harr
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A live story about an American sailor who fell in love with a Japanese girl at the end of WWII. This book had beautiful scenery and interesting Japanese sayings. It’s told from two points of view, two places, and two periods of time. It’s both gorgeous and sad. There’s love and loss. I’m glad I read this book. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
Renita D'Silva
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this enchanting book! Wow! This is spell binding and heartbreaking, eye opening and enthralling. Just beautiful! One of the best books I have read. This story is one that will stay with me for a very long time. Exceptional writing, an amazing story, one that I will never forget. One that touched and moved me. A book to treasure, savor and re-read. Highly recommended - a must read for everyone!
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
Julia Satu
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book touched me on so many levels. The prose is lovely and evocative. I fell in love with her characters. And I couldn't wait to see what happened next. The fact that this novel is based on actual events broke my heart. This is a must read!
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The subject of this novel—the fate of mixed-race babies [the children of American servicemen and Japanese women, conceived during and just after WWII] in Japan—is one I've never read about before. It's a heartbreaking and thought-provoking historical sidenote that highlights one of the unforeseen "casualties" and consequences of war. The theme is explored through the story of Naoko Nakamura and James Kovac. They're both sympathetic characters who have to make difficult choices throughout the nov ...more
Wendy Golding
What a well written piece of historical fiction this is! There were so many things I had to look up after reading this, one being the statues of the girl in the red shoes; one on Shelter Island in San Diego, the other in the Port of YokoHama. I know this story is fictional, but the way the author writes it makes you believe her characters really existed. I am intrigued to research the maternity home she writes about and more about the war and the mixed race children born from American soldiers a ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very moving story. I was not aware that the discrimination against Japanese women and American soldiers was so intense on both sides of the ocean.
It was really profound and many babies died as a result.
This story certainly did not go in the directions that I had expected.
Good engrossing read.
K. Lincoln
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
At the end of the book, the author reveals that this story of an adult daughter who discovers her father loved a Japanese woman (and in this book, conceived a child with her) while he was stationed in Yokosuka after WWII was inspired by her own father's experiences.

And in the parts where the character of Tori Kovacs in present day America uncovering the secret history of a father she now feels she didn't truly know as well as she thought, the emotionally-laden prose shines. Johns does a great jo
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. The Woman in the White Kimono shifts between present day America and 1950s Japan, taking readers through the journey of a loving daughter discovering her father’s hidden history after he has passed. Author Ana Johns has produced a wonderful story that expertly shows the challenges faced between couples where husband and wife come from different cultures. However, what really makes this story is its imagery. There are times when I’m reading ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-best-of
This book is utterly unputdownable. It is an elegantly written book about a young Japanese woman, Naoko Nakamura, who falls in love with an American soldier in post-World War II Japan and the decisions she’s forced to make – and the consequences of that decision. At the same time, in alternating chapters, Johns tells the story of an American woman, Tori Kovac, whose father is dying. When she finds a letter addressed to someone in Japan who she doesn’t know and has never heard of, her curiosity i ...more
Iryna KL
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Publisher!

5 out of 5 stars

I decided to pick up The Woman in the White Kimono because I have been craving something different than my usual reads. And boy am I happy that I got approved to read this heartbreaking and at the same time heartwarming tale.

The Woman in the White Kimono is a tale of the American Occupation of Japan from 1953 to 1957 and the consequences of it. The reader is presented with a split narrative
Jessica Higgins
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best Japanese literature selections that we’ve seen!

In 1957, tensions continue to run high in American occupied Japan. The Japanese industry is still working on recovery and families that previously enjoyed a lavish lifestyle are looking at diminished returns. Naoko Nakamura’s family is facing this possibility and her father arranges a marriage to try to solidify a partnership for his company. Naoko has her own plans as she has given her heart to an American sailor and wants to live f
received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

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 fa
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tori Kovac, in present day America, watches her father die right after he gives her a letter that was written by him to someone in Japan, and it was returned in the mail. Who is it to, and what does it mean?

Seventeen year old Naoko Nakamura, in 1950s Japan, is being pressured into an arranged marriage to improve her family’s financial stability. But she is in love with someone else… an American sailor, Jimmy, a gaijin still hated in this decade after the war. And, furthermore, she’s carrying hi
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novel by Ana Johns. The Woman in the White Kimono opens with a prologue narrated by Naoka Nakamura. She sets up this tale by stating, "A life with love is happy. A life for love is foolish." Thus, starts this tale of a traditional Japanese family in the late 1950s in contrast with a present day American family. Naoka shares her narration with Tori, the daughter of an American soldier. You can see where this is going...

Johns swaps back and forth, having Naoka tell of her youthful days o
Megan Lyons
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction
3 1/2 stars

This took me forever to get into. Part of this was likely due to me being in a reading slump, but I also think the book started quite slowly. It took a while for the story to get going.

I think there was a lack of depth to the characters, which kept the story from hooking me from the start. However, the writing was solid, and I was attached enough to the characters by the end to be emotionally invested. It's been quite a while since a book had me so aggressively ugly crying.

The narra
Greyland Reviews
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars
ARC provided by Harlequin through NetGalley for honest review

May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
OMG! I think that this is the best book I've read in 2019! This is the story of post WWII Japan and what happened when the American soldiers went home. It was happy, sad, heart wrenching and told of strength that I just can't imagine.

Run don't walk to your nearest book store and pre-order this today.

Many many thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this advanced readers copy. Release date for this gem is May 2019!
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book on This was a beautifully written story about Tori Kovak, whose father is very ill. When He is dying he hands her a letter which indicates that while stationed in Japan in 1957, he met a young woman, and fell in love, indicating she has a sister. After his death Tori, takes a trip to Japan to find out about her father's life prior to his marriage to her mother.

Janilyn Kocher
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is an emotional, riveting, heart wrenching read. It's about two people from two different cultures who love, but circumstances do not allow them to be together. The narrative flits back from modern day to Japan in the 1950s. The ending is sad and bittersweet. I liked the historical note provided. I read this in one sitting, it was that absorbing. Thanks to Edelweiss for the early read.
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Touched by the author's poetic writing, there is also a weak woman in love obstructed, in the fate of the chokehold of the throat, that kind of not yield and tenacity, in the poetic and delicate heart description, gave me the shock touched
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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 is her first historical fiction.