I received A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding in exchange for an honest review
I’ve read a lot of WWII novels. But this is the first I have read which is centered around the events that took place in Japan. This debut author has offered a refreshing look at the well-trodden topic of WWII, recounting the drama through new eyes.
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is about Amaterasu Takahashi, a wife, mother and grandmother whose life is irrevocably changed by the bombing of her hometown Nagasaki – the pikadon (pika meaning bright light and don, meaning boom).
Devastated by the loss of her family, Amaterasu and her husband flee to America to build a new life. She is haunted by the mistakes of her past, but manages to put the past behind her, until one day a wounded Japanese ex-soldier who claims to be her grandson who she’d long assumed died in the fatal bombings.
But Amaterasu is reticent; after so long spent coming to terms with the loss of her family, she’s not willing to easily let in this stranger on her doorstep. But the man’s persistence forces her to reevaluate, revisit feelings which were long buried and delve deep back into her past.
Coppleton writes with an immediately engaging manner, and really captures the atmosphere of Japan, from Amaterasu’s time as a geisha years before, to her daughter’s secret romance and, of course, that devastating day when the bombs fell and their lives were all changed forever..
Each chapter begins with a traditional Japanese word and definition, a clever technique which not only follows the plot and offers a glimpse at what is to come in the chapter, but offers a fascinating insight into Japanese culture and the stark differences between Japanese culture and our own. Jackie Coppleton is a British author who spent some time living in the city of Nagasaki, and her passion for the city and culture and the depth of her research shines through throughout the novel. Blending emotional fiction and historical fact, the author offers a unique insight into Japanese culture.