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The Kitchen God's Wife (Flamingo) Hardcover – 23 Apr 1992

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (23 April 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006545068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006545064
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.4 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,893,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in the US to immigrant Chinese parents, Amy Tan is an internationally celebrated writer. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, and two children's books. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.

Product Description

Review

‘In this remarkable book Tan manages to illuminate the nobility of friendship and the necessity of humour. Give yourself over to the world she creates.’ New York Times

‘Once again this wonderful novel has extended experience. There is something dizzyingly elemental about Tan’s storytelling; it melds the rich simplicities of fairytales with a delicate lyrical style.’ Sunday Times

‘Tan is a prodigal with her talent. She weaves a dazzling web of unfamiliar colours, smells, tastes and landscapes.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Amy Tan writes with passion and humour, making East and West mutually more comprehensible.’ Daily Mail

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Pearl Louie Brandt has a terrible secret which she tries desperately to keep from her mother, Winnie Louie. And Winnie has long kept her own secrets – about her past and the confusing circumstances of Pearl's birth. Fate intervenes in the form of Helen Kwong, Winnie's so-called sister-in-law, who believes she is dying and must unburden herself of all falsehoods before she flies off to heaven. But, unfortunately, the truth comes in many guises, depending on who is telling the tale…

Thus begins a story that takes us back to Shanghai in the 1920s, through World War II, and the harrowing events that lead to Winnie's arrival in America in 1949. The story is one of innocence and its loss, tragedy and survival and, most of all, the enduring qualities of hope, love and friendship. Tan's voice – her vivid characterization, her sly and poignant humour, and her sympathetic insights into human relationships – gives us a compelling novel, both painful and sweet, suffused with hopes universal to us all.

"Tan is a consummate storyteller whose prose manages to be emotionally charged without a trace of sentimentality."
SUNDAY TIMES

"In this remarkable book Tan manages to illuminate the nobility of friendship and the necessity of humor. Give yourself over to the world she creates."
NEW YORK TIMES


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First Sentence
Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jan. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is another wonderful book by Amy Tan. The depth of stories told layer upon layer drawn perhaps from the combined experinces of many people create an atmosphere of a remote region of Southern China in the midst of war. It is a harsh story but beautifully told with warmth and humour. The Asian style of life where people rarely say quite what they mean for the good of the whole is so typically and naturally portrayed. It is a story of hope and liberation and of the many trials and hardships that eventually lead to her goal. Perhaps, finally, as the story and the secrets are unravelled the daughter begins to understand t he importance of the beliefs and customs of her Chinese- born mother.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Aug. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Having recently read Wild Swans it whet my appetite for more books with a chinese theme. Reading The Kitchen God's Wife certainly did not disappoint. Amy Tan tells the story of family and its different generations, one born and reared in China and one in the US. Members of both generations have their own secrets which are eventually unwoven throughout the book. Told with such heart-rending humour - you will certainly be moved to laughter or tears, or both!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on 6 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best, if not the best, book I have ever read and I have read a lot over the years. It is also, I think, Amy Tan's best work. I have even bought copies for friends because I believe it is one everyone should read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gaby on 16 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was truly painful and mouth dropping to see the kind of suffering you can bring to yourself and your love ones by not standing up for yourself nor those who you love. The most painful thing of all is to see how it is out of ignorance, really not knowing any better. A person programmed to be that way can really have it that bad, specially when the societal culture makes it basically impossible to have it another way. Extremely sad!

Amy Tan really depicts pretty well how wounded people re-act and in the figure of Wen Fu, we found a truly pathological person, a real predator, a psychopath. It was very instructive to see how real this character was. China and its environment and time felt so real as well.

It is worth reading the book from all the potential lessons that can be extracted. It was really a very good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. T. A. Oliveira on 16 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
In her second novel, "The Kitchen God's Wife", Amy Tan explores in another angle the subjects she so successfully addressed in her debut, "The joy luck club". Here, after a slow start, the narrative takes off bounding past and present, mother and daughter. When we first meet Jiang Weili is through the eyes of her 40-year-old daughter, Pearl, who doesn't have a nice view of her mother, whose she adopted years later is Winnie Louie.

But it is again through her eyes - and ears - that we will learn her mother's story. Both mother and daughter have kept secrets from each other, and, one of the aims of the narrative is to both release the burden by telling the truth. Weiwei story is long and sad. It is told by her to Pearl, and it is so mesmerizing that readers feel sorry every time she has to break her narrative.

While the character is telling her story, the daughter's - and the reader's as well - conception about Weiwei changes. As Tan displayed her talents in her previous book, she is a writer capable of bringing readers from laughs to tears in one paragraph. Her prose is additive and we may fail to notice some problems in the book, such as the stereotypes and plastered narrative. On the other hand, the story she is telling is so strong and relevant that one can easily turn a blind eye on the faults.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dona Rendell on 2 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is very moving and exceptionally well written. The relationships among characters in the book are complex; the story centres around conflict and its resolution, be it conflict between generations, men and women and East and West.

I expect that mostly women will relate to it as the story is told from the perspective of a woman. As a feminist, I found the book's ideas hard to accept, namely love is acceptance and the woman should bear it all.

Overall, I do recommend the book as when reading it I got immersed in time and place so different from my one.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
This novel is about Pearl Louie and her mother, Winnie. The complexities and tensions between a mother and daughter are subtle, yet poignant at times. Tan describes the trials of being an immigrant in the United States through the character Winnie, and the problems of growing up torn between one's racial heritage, and one's national heritage (being born in the United States as a minority). The story is moved along by the discovery of a family "secret" that threatens to make every moment Pearl has lived, only a lie.
The beginning and end of the book describe the interactions between a first-generation Chinese-American woman and her thoroughly Chinese mother, who came to America fleeing the Communists in 1949. In wonderfully authentic voices, Tan shows us each woman through the other's eyes, and the rest of the family through both sets. The love, tension, and misunderstanding between immigrants and their children, by now a reasonably familiar theme, is done in a comfortable low-key suburban way, without exaggeration or unnecessary crisis.
The middle of the book is the story of the mother's life in China, a life with the usual quota of mistreatment, oppression, bad marriages, dead children, lifelong friends, and so forth. If the head and tail of the book are about what happens when your children grow up American, the middle is an example of why you would want them to.
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