The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

mutualA Dictionary of Mutual Understanding.  This is a beautiful tale of love and family centred around the events of a mother and daughter in the city of Nagasaki before and after the atomic bomb exploded and decimated the city in 1944. Jackie Copleton has perfectly captured the quiet humility and restrained nature of her characters as they battle with the misunderstandings and tragic events that occur when secrets are kept within a family.

Yuko falls in love with the first man in her life to show her consideration and to truly be interested in her ideas and ambitions.  Unfortunately he is a friend of her father’s and nearly twice her age, but is this the only reason her mother is so against the relationship and tries everything in her power to prevent the two lovers being together?

After the bomb nothing is the same and the surviving family rebuild their lives in different ways in order to cope with the horror they have endured.  Many years later even more secrets are revealed as the remaining family members reconnect.

Each chapter starts with an explanation of a trait of Japanese culture and society which is unfamiliar to Western thinking and is relevant to the events to follow.  A lovely novel.