The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding was a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching tale set during at the end of the second World War. The novel was told from the perspective of an elderly Japanese woman who was (Amaterasu) coping with her devastating losses following the Nagasaki nuclear bombing.
Amaterasu and her husband had fled from Japan to start a new life in America. Many years later, the widow answered a knock on the door which would forever alter her existence. A young man, marked with burns had arrived, claiming to be her grandson. It was difficult to believe that this man was truly her grandson after their exhaustive search following the bomb which led them to accept that he had perished. The young man brings her a collection of letters from an old acquaintance to try and proof his identity, starting her down memory lane. As Amaterasu reads these letters and the daughter’s journals, family secrets are slowly revealed.
This is a gripping book that is difficult to put down as the reader connects the previous choices to the present situation and waits for find out if Amaterasu will accept this man as her family. The Japanese perspective of the war is interesting and her descriptions reflect the fact that she had visited this area of Japan, where she had been teaching English.
Clearly, Jackie Copleton’s first novel is a great success and I look forward to her future novels!! It is interesting to learn that she attends book clubs but unfortunately, our group is a little far away here in Canada! This was a terrific read which I would recommend. Thanks Christine B. for sharing it with me!!
Addendum: Check out this fantastic article from the UK Daily Record which describe Jackie Copleton’s inspiration for writing this wonderful novel. The article shares more historical detail and pictures as well. Thanks Jackie for tweeting this! I hope that this blog and article encourages more readers to learn about Nagasaki through this wonderful novel!