Archive | September, 2017

Van has finished reading… Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester

20 Sep


In moving from America to Tokyo to be two-year-old Yuki’s nanny, Diana is as aware that she’s running away from a burgeoning relationship as she is of the obvious adventure that awaits. But all is not quite as it seems in the Yoshimura household. As Diana’s connection with Yuki grows she faces challenges both cultural and emotional, knowing that each decision she makes has consequences, and that some may be far-reaching.


Alison Jean Lester’s Yuki Means Happiness tells the story of a young woman’s blossoming, of her looking for a place of understanding, and finding her fit. And what a thing of beauty it is, what an absolute delight!


Albeit the book is mostly set in Japan it wouldn’t be as a gateway to the oriental experience that I would advise picking this book up. The kind of everyday differences Diana experiences are exactly that so they’re already fairly well represented in the wider consciousness. Rather, it’s Diana’s reaction, her resistance to or assimilation of them that marks her progress. It really is all about Yuki though, and the way we see her through Diana’s eyes. It’s truly remarkable just how real she feels and the relationship between Diana and Yuki is exquisitely observed; there are moments from the book that linger vividly in my mind. It is achingly tender. If you follow my reviews you’ll be familiar with The Harvey Effect, and Alison Jean Lester conjures it up a few times. No need for prolix or flowery effusions, she simply chooses the appropriate words and lets them work their magic. This is I think the first time I’ve encountered the Harvey Effect with a whole character though. Right from the off Porter appeared to me, fully clothed in the guise of a young Jimmy Stewart, and it suited him very well. I couldn’t help but sit and wait and hope on his behalf. Honestly, I don’t see how any reader could fail to connect with Yuki, or Diana (if not because of Diana then at least because of Yuki through Diana) or Porter, if not all three. Be prepared to have your heart filled, and also squeezed because once you have connected won’t be able to help yourself feeling for them.


I can well imagine coming back to re-read this book in the future. It makes me smile just thinking about how much I like it. And the really great thing – children will insist on growing up but here there is a place where Yuki will always be two years old, full of love and promise and as cute as anything you can imagine. Add her to your reading list. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.


Yuki Means Happiness was published on 27th July 2017 by John Murray ISBN: 9781848549623


You can find Alison on Twitter @A_J_Lester or at her website


My very special thanks to Emma Petfield at John Murray for bringing Yuki into my life