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Again grounding her novel in family and the workings of fate, Tan (The Kitchen God's Wife) spins the tale of two sisters, two cultures, and several acts of betrayal. Kwan, who came to San Francisco from China when she was 18, remains culturally disjointed, a good-natured, superstitious peasant with a fierce belief that she has "yin eyes," which enable her to see ghosts. Kwan's younger half-sister Olivia (or Libby-ah, as Kwan calls her) is supremely annoyed by Kwan's habit of conversing with spirits and treats her with disdain. Despite herself, however, Libby is fascinated by the stories Kwan tells of her past lives, during one of which, in the late 1800s, she claims to have befriended an American missionary who was in love with an evil general. Kwan relates this story in installments that alternate with Libby's narration, which stresses her impatience with Kwan's clinging presence. But Kwan's devotion never cools: "She turns all my betrayals into love that needs to be betrayed," Libby muses. When circumstances take Kwan, Libby and Libby's estranged husband, Simon, back to Kwan's native village in China on a magazine assignment, the stories Kwan tells?of magic, violence, love and fate?begin to assume poignant?and dangerous?relevance. In Kwan, Tan has created a character with a strong, indelible voice, whose (often hilarious) pidgin English defines her whole personality. Needy, petulant, skeptical Libby is not as interesting; though she must act as Kwan's foil, demonstrating the dichotomy between imagination and reality, she is less credible and compelling, especially when she undergoes a near-spiritual conversion in the novel's denouement. Indeed, some readers may feel that the ending is less than satisfactory, but no one will deny the pleasure of Tan's seductive prose and the skill with which she unfolds the many-layered narrative. Major ad/promo; BOMC and QPB main selections; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
YA?Olivia, the narrator of this story, was born to an American mother and a Chinese father. She meets her 18-year-old Chinese half sister, Kwan, for the first time shortly after their father's death. Kwan adores "Libby-ah" and tries to introduce her to her Chinese heritage through stories and memories. Olivia is embarrassed by her sibling, but finds as she matures that she has inadvertently absorbed much about Chinese superstitions, spirits, and reincarnation. Olivia explains, "My sister Kwan believes she has Yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin..." Now in her mid-30s, Olivia, a photographer, is still seeking a meaningful life. The climax of the story comes when she and her estranged husband Simeon, a writer, go to China on assignment with Kwan as the interpreter. In the village in which she grew up, Kwan returns to the world of Yin, her mission completed. Olivia finally learns what Kwan was trying to show her: "If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses." The meshing of the contemporary story of Olivia and the tales Kwan tells of her past life in late-19th century China may confuse some readers. Although this story is different from Tan's previous novels because of the supernatural twist, YAs will find some familiar elements.?Carol Clark, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a mystical Chinese story that tells the life of Olivia Laguni. When Olivia was a young child, her half-sister, Kwan, arrived from China to stay with her family. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by smartnurse123
First off, I'd like to assert that Amy Tan is an incredibly successful writer, whose books sell in the millions, and NOBODY can take that away from her. Read morePublished on April 22 2004
I just love this book. Amy Tan is a genius because she has the ability to write about people and the situations they experience in such a real, candid, and yet witty way. Read morePublished on April 11 2004 by A. Dobry
A truly magical book, it will open your mind as well as your heart.Published on March 23 2004 by Silinator
Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Kitchen God's Wife" are two wonderful, wonderful novels -- I stayed up late into the night reading both of them, and... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004
It's really too bad so many reviewers think they are actual critics, as if critics ever knew trash from treasure. Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2003
I loved this book because it made me want to solve the mystery of Kwan's yin eyes and how it affects her half sister Olivia. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2003 by Elizabeth