She watched the world in front of her, the horizon line now impossible to discern, and thought that even when men were trying their best to become monsters, nature refused to give in. What was beyond her couldn’t be easily altered by human stupidity. (The Diplomat’s Daughter, Prologue)
At its best, historical fiction transports you to a time and a place where reality and the imaginary co-exist. From the outset, The Diplomat’s Daughter by Karin Tanabe did just that. It surprised me how quickly I was drawn in as Tanabe delicately weaved together the stories of three young people during World War II: a Japanese diplomat’s daughter, an Austrian Jew, and a first generation German American. The novel moves quickly around the world as it unveils the often overlooked horrors faced by German and Japanese Americans, displaced European Jews, the Japanese, and even the Chinese people. Tanabe tells their stories with honor and dignity as she sheds light on this troubled time in our world’s history.
No matter where the novel took me—Virginia, Texas, Vienna, Shanghai, or Tokyo—I was impressed with the overwhelming strength of its characters. Whatever terrors they faced, Emi, Christian, and Leo fought with all their might to maintain their humanity, and that of others. Tanabe reinforces this fact with a superb cast of supporting characters; Jack, Inge, Keiko, and Jin were exceptionally developed and I came to care for each of them just as much as the main characters.
The Diplomat’s Daughter is a breathtaking journey around the world and into the hearts of three people fighting for life—and not just life, but also love, honor, and a place to call home. I greatly appreciated this novel and its ability to open my eyes to places, people, and events that were a mystery to me. I’m sure that in the days and weeks to come, Emi, Christian, and Leo will continue to haunt my mind and inspire my heart to love and serve those around me.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley. All thoughts, opinions, and ratings are my own.