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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 8 January 2014
This is a book which took me a while to get into, but once I did I quite enjoyed the read. It is the story of Gretchen who returns to Singapore and the family soy sauce factory after years of living in San Francisco following the break up of her marriage. I really enjoyed reading about the factory and the history of it, as well as Singapore itself. As for the food descriptions, well they just made me hungry although I found it ironic that surrounded by all the wonderful food, Gretchen preferred to eat junk food most of the time.

It is a story of family traditions versus the modern way of life and about the choices we have to make in life. Should Gretchen stay and help run the factory which would please her father or should she return to San Francisco which would please her mother? Is there a place for her in either city? Sometimes I felt the story was just a little unnecessarily wordy, although every now and then there are some real pearls of chinese wisdom in there.

Whilst on the whole I enjoyed the read, I think I would have preferred it more if Gretchen had been a nicer person. She came across as not really wanting to get involved with anyone, even her own family, and in her own mind she could be quite scathing about her friends at times and didn't really treat any of them particularly well. For the most part the story is quite slow moving as it builds up all the background information but I did think the last couple of chapters, when Gretchen finally makes up her mind what she wants to do felt a little rushed.
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on 26 September 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Many other reviewers have given a synopsis of the book which I will not repeat. It may be predictable but, actually, I didn't find it distracting. I thought it was well written and, in fact, I found the writing style reminded me of Pat Jackson's Too Long To Die (another excellent book). My only criticism is that I don't think that September is the beginning of summer in San Francisco - unless I have misread the paragraph!

A great story and I can't wait for the next book.

P.S. How about some of these fantastic recipes using soy sauce being added at the end? Just a suggestion!!!
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on 14 January 2014
apologies for the poor punctuation, typing via kindle is not an easy feat. the book is a pleasant surprise for a kindle daily deal. perhaps being asian, chinese, lived in singapore and moving many times around the world, the book is especially poignant. while this is not an excuse to be selfish, whom has not been stuck in a static state and acted out when life throws you a curveball? and also being an avid fan of kikkoman, i understand the importance of soy sauce. i love this book and the subtle observations of daily life resonated really well with me. perhaps not to the level of introversion extraodinaire jhumpa lahiri but a fantastic debut, nevertheless. will be looking forward to the next book.
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on 16 June 2014
If Gretchen was likeable it would have been more stars. I enjoyed reading about the soy sauce factory and about Singapore. Now on my bucket list. There was not a thing likeable about the main character Gretchen. She was spoilt by her parents, horrid and rude to her college room mate and best friend then bitter and jealous. Awful to her childhood best friend and ungrateful to her parents. Though she seemed to think it was everyone elses problems. How her friends even stayed around is beyond me. She was also quite rude to the new love interest and cast him in the bad light. I did like the story though....
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on 15 July 2014
The descriptions of the making of soy sauce to the traditional recipe were fascinating and the story of the family dynamics which were woven around the history of the product made wonderful reading. I loved it!
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on 3 February 2014
The theme was different and interesting as it gave insight into another culture. Gretch's character develops slowly as the story progresses and it is easy to feel symapthy for her. Her relationships will a variety of people are well told. The family ties in her culture are made clear asthe story progresses.
At first I thought it was going to be too light reading but changed my mind as I read on.
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on 18 October 2014
About to visit Singapore I chose this book hoping it would introduce me to the delights of this small Asian country, in this respect I was disappointed but I enjoyed learning the process of producing Soy sauce and grappled with the complicated life and mind of Gretchen, disappointed in love and torn between two cultures. The story proves how difficult it can be growing up within ones own mindset.
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on 31 January 2014
I wasn't really sure what I was getting when I tried a sample, but so glad I bought the full version.
At times I wanted to kick her for being so dense, but she really redeemed herself at the end, just to prove that human nature isn't written in stone and we can change if we really want to. Great book
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on 6 August 2014
A gentle story about a woman taking over the running of her family's soy sauce company in Singapore. A nice introduction to the country and an undemanding read. This isn't meant to be great art but it's well written and manages to create a sense of nostalgia for a time and country that I've never lived in.
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on 24 January 2014
An absolutely riveting read.
What was so likeable about storyline was that honour and loyalty bound up in a specific culture and the trials and tribulations plus joys of running a family business and empire were so salutary; that it could be a psychological self help manual !!
Maybe the writer did not mean it that way, but it emanated from her pages. Relationships were beautifully interwoven into to this story line, whether platonic,family, love,or work relationships and were as crucial to the rise or demise of the LIN Soy Sauce empire as any business plan.
The love triangles were so subtlely &graciously penned (not in least vulgar),that this reader was aching to read more.In fact,reading between the lines was much more powerful and had you on edge of your seat as to next turn or twist within a possible romantic realm. Every character had their flaws of human nature and yet sacrifice and the plate of human kindness assisted everyone to become the best they could be, given the circumstances.
The matriarch,an academic, now a recovering alcoholic, suffering from end stage renal failure; was an amazing character both forlorn,lost and yet still a silent yet magnificent force in the success of the Lin Soy Sauce empire.It traverses two cultures both American and Chinese so expertly and tangible that love and honour plus respect are indelibly stamped in each word.
I could go on for a long time , but thank you Kirstin Chen for a superb read.
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