The Woman in the White Kimono

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

As seen:

By Ana Johns

avg rating

1 review

Find your local library.

Buy this book from to support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no additional cost to you.

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.

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.


05 Dec 2019

KathyL of BiblioBelles

The woman in the white kimono by Ana Johns
Reviewed by KathyL of BiblioBelles

A beautiful tale of love, loss and loyalty, acknowledging, without attributing blame, sad historical practices and facts. I felt Ana Johns used the dual time frame structure to join story lines together in a very clever and creative manner. (Sometimes, dual time frame novels irritate me because they feel like the result of applying a formulaic solution taught at a creative writing workshop. In this novel, it has been done with lots of careful, imaginative and sensitive thinking.)

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to do a wonderful trip to Japan, which I’d hoped for in the back of my mind since I was a young girl. I loved the places and the people. To read this very sensitive novel, learning so much incidentally as part of the narrative, has been a somewhat emotional journey. What more can we ask of authors? I look forward with anticipation to the next subject she tackles in fictional form.

The woman in the white kimono by Ana Johns
Reviewed by Jill H of BiblioBelles
⭐️⭐️⭐️and a half

It took a while for me to warm to this story. For me the character of the American daughter (Tori Kovac) only emerged as the story unfolded whereas I felt a clearer sense of the Japanese woman Naoko from the start. Once Tori begins to delve into her father’s past in Japan a horrifying picture emerges of the fate of some mixed-heritage babies born after WW2. Towards the end I was more engaged and was keen to follow the story unravelling.
It is well written with many vivid descriptive passages. I struggled with some aspects of the Japanese social structure and values of those times and the role of Naoko’s grandmother. I understand that the grandmother acted according to what she believed to be best for the whole family, it was still hard to accept. It was made worse as the plot is based on a true situation; the evidence was unearthed through court records. Despite this the novel ends positively in that both women find peace and acceptance.

From the noticeboard