During the turbulent months following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, twenty-one-year-old Emi Kato, the daughter of a Japanese diplomat, is locked behind barbed wire in a Texas internment camp. She feels hopeless until she meets handsome young Christian Lange, whose German-born parents were wrongfully arrested for un-American activities. Together, they live as prisoners with thousands of other German and Japanese families, but discover that love can bloom in even the bleakest circumstances.
When Emi and her mother are abruptly sent back to Japan, Christian enlists in the US Army, with his sights set on the Pacific front—and, he hopes, a reunion with Emi—unaware that her first love, Leo Hartmann, the son of wealthy of Austrian parents and now a Jewish refugee in Shanghai, may still have her heart.
Fearful of bombings in Tokyo, Emi’s parents send her to a remote resort town in the mountains, where many in the foreign community have fled. Cut off from her family, struggling with growing depression and hunger, Emi repeatedly risks her life to help keep her community safe—all while wondering if the two men she loves are still alive.
As Christian Lange struggles to adapt to life as a soldier, his unit pushes its way from the South Pacific to Okinawa, where one of the bloodiest battles of World War II awaits them. Meanwhile, in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, as Leo fights to survive the squalor of the Jewish ghetto, a surprise confrontation with a Nazi officer threatens his life. For each man, Emi Kato is never far from their minds.
Flung together by war, passion, and extraordinary acts of selflessness, the paths of these three remarkable young people will collide as the fighting on the Pacific front crescendos. With her “elegant and extremely gratifying” (USA Today) storytelling, Karin Tanabe paints a stunning portrait of a turning point in history.
The Diplomat’s Daughter by Karin Tanabe is a historical novel that just never hit it off with me. I felt more distaste for the characters than I have for any other book’s characters. They sunk my interest. The Japanese woman, Emi, was completely unlikable. I couldn’t connect with her on any level. She believes she is far greater than anyone else. She fell in love with two men. When one of them found happiness with another woman more mature than Emi, Emi tore the letter bearing the news. Anger, hatred, and sadness crept into her nature. Yet, there was still Christian remaining in the equation. Hope seeped into her being…and when she found him, she thought he was still the most handsome man he was when she first met him. Thoughts of what if she found him missing an eye or other body part…or what if he became ugly due to war injuries, would she have still accepted him or simply reject him? I could not like her at all. Even at the end, I still did not find anything about her to like.
Karin Tanabe wrote about the war time periods with great detail. I enjoyed that part of this book. The plot was slow and unbearable due to the characterization. The Diplomat’s Daughter was a crazy love triangle that quickly dissolved. Only at the very ending, did one man still hang on for the young Japanese woman. I could not fanthom why he liked her. I could not stand her personality. Looking for romance, do not read this book. If you want a picture of what world wars were like, then read this book. Overall, I would not recommend this to readers.