The Hundred Secret Senses

The Hundred Secret Senses

4.3 76
by Amy Tan
     
 

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Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of southern China, this is a tale of American pragmatism shaken, and soothed, by Chinese ghosts. What proof of love do we seek between mother and daughter, among sisters, lovers, and friends? What are its boundaries and failings? Can love go beyond 'Until death do us part?' And if so, which aspects haunt us like regretful… See more details below

Overview

Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of southern China, this is a tale of American pragmatism shaken, and soothed, by Chinese ghosts. What proof of love do we seek between mother and daughter, among sisters, lovers, and friends? What are its boundaries and failings? Can love go beyond 'Until death do us part?' And if so, which aspects haunt us like regretful ghosts? In 1962, Olivia, nearly six years old, meets Kwan, her adult half sister from China, for the first time. Olivia's neglectful mother, who in pursuing a new marriage can't provide the attention her daughter needs, finds Kwan to be a handy caretaker. In the bedroom the sisters share, Kwan whispers secrets about ghosts and makes Olivia promise never to reveal them. Out of both fright and resentment, Olivia betrays her sister -- with terrible consequences. From then on she listens to Kwan's stories and pretends to believe them. Thirty years pass, and Olivia is about to divorce her husband, Simon, after a lengthy marriage. She is certain he has never given up his love for a former girlfriend, who died years before. Kwan and her ghosts believe otherwise, and they provide Olivia with ceaseless advice and pleas to reconsider. But Olivia has long since dismissed the ghosts of her childhood and the wacky counsel of her sister. Just as Kwan anticipates, fate intervenes and takes her, Olivia, and Simon to China. In the village where Kwan grew up, Olivia confronts the tangible evidence of what she has always presumed to be her sister's fantasy of the past. And there, she finds the proof that love endures, and comes to understand what logic ignores, what you can know only through the hundred secret senses.

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Editorial Reviews

Newsweek
Tan has once more produced a novel somewhat like a hologram: turn it this way and find Chinese-Americans shopping and arguing in San Francisco; turn it that way and the Chinese of Changmian village in 1864 are fleeing into the hills to hide from the rampaging Manchus. . . .The Hundred Secret Senses doesn't simply return to a world but burrows more deeply into it, following new trails to fresh revelations.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tan's novel of the conflicts between two very different Chinese American sisters spent 12 weeks on PW's bestseller list. (Dec.)
USA Today
Her most polished work . . . Tan is a wonderful storyteller, and the story's many strands -- Olivia's childhood, her courtship and marriage, Kwan's ghost stories and village tales -- propel the work to its climactic but bittersweet end.
Boston Sunday Globe
The wisest and most captivating novel Tan has written.
San Diego Tribune
Truly magical. . .unforgettable . . . The first-person narrator is Olivia Laguni, and her unrelenting nemesis from childhood on is her half-sister, Kwan Li. . . . It is Kwan's haunting predictions, her implementation of the secret senses, and her linking of the present with the past that cause this novel to shimmer with meaning.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375701528
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1998
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

Michiko Katukani
Ms. Tan has . . . injected a large dose of supernatural whimsy into her story in an effort to explore the connections between the generations. The results are decidedly mixed: a contemporary tale of familial love and resentment, nimbly evoked in Ms. Tan's guileless prose, and unfortunately overlaid by another, more sensational tale of reincarnation that undermines the reader's trust. . . -- The New York Times

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