The Kitchen God's Wife

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Overview

"Tan is one of the prime storytellers writing fiction today."
NEWSWEEK
Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now, because she believes she is dying, Helen wants to expose everything. And Winnie angrily determines that she must be the one to tell her daughter, Pearl, about the past—including the terible truth even Helen does not know. And so begins Winnie's story of her life on a small island outside Shanghai in the 1920s, and other ...
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The Kitchen God's Wife

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Overview

"Tan is one of the prime storytellers writing fiction today."
NEWSWEEK
Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now, because she believes she is dying, Helen wants to expose everything. And Winnie angrily determines that she must be the one to tell her daughter, Pearl, about the past—including the terible truth even Helen does not know. And so begins Winnie's story of her life on a small island outside Shanghai in the 1920s, and other places in China during World War II, and traces the happy and desperate events tha led to Winnie's coming to America in 1949.
"The kind of novel that can be read and reread with enormous pleasure."
CHICAGO TRIBUNE

With the same narrative skills and evocative powers that made her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, a national bestseller, Tan now tells the story of Winnie Louie, an aging Chinese woman unfolding a life's worth of secrets to her suspicious, Americanized daughter.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Tan's The Joy Luck Club mesmerizing second novel, again a story that a Chinese emigre mother tells her daughter, received a PW boxed review, spent 18 weeks on PW 's hardcover bestseller list and was a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection in cloth. June
Library Journal
The Joy Luck Club LJ 2/1/89, Tan's remarkable and successful first novel, is followed by this chronicle of Chinese-American life, which shows Tan's growth as a writer. Pearl, the American-born daughter of immigrants, begins the tale with an uneasy visit to her mother for Grand Auntie Du's funeral. Misunderstanding runs deep between mother and daughter: Pearl is married with two young girls of her own, but her mother's life is largely incomprehensible to her. This leads to the large second part of the novel, told in mother Winnie's voice of her young womanhood in World War II-era China. Tan is a gifted natural storyteller. The rhythms of Winnie's story are spellbinding and true, without the contrivance common in many modern novels. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/90; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selections; first serial to McCall's .-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
School Library Journal
YA-- Fans of Tan's Joy Luck Club Putnam, 1989 will love her powerful second novel. Here she creates an absorbing story about the lives of a Chinese mother and her adult American-born daughter. Pressured to reveal to the young woman her secret past in war-torn China in the 1940s, Winnie weaves an unbelievable account of a childhood of loneliness and abandonment and a young adulthood marred by a nightmarish arranged marriage. Winnie survives her many ordeals because of the friendship and strength of her female friends, the love of her second husband, and her own steadfast courage and endurance. At the conclusion, her secrets are uncovered and she shares a trust/love relationship with her daughter, Pearl, that was missing from both their lives. Some YAs may find the beginning a bit slow, but this beautifully written, heartrending, sometimes violent story with strong characterzation will captivate their interest to the very last page. --Nancy Bard, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399138560
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Product dimensions: 9.34 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.51 (d)

Meet the Author


Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate, Saving Fish from Drowning, and two children’s books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which has been adapted as Sagwa, a PBS series for children. Tan was also the co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Tan, who has a master’s degree in linguistics from San Jose University, has worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Biography

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which has been adapted as Sagwa, a PBS series for children. Tan was also the co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Tan, who has a master's degree in linguistics from San Jose University, has worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      En-Mai Tan
    2. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 19, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oakland, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., San Jose State University, 1973; M.A., 1974

Table of Contents

Life and Background.

Introduction to the Novel.

A Brief Synopsis.

List of Characters.

Chronology of Historical and Fictional Events.

Critical Commentaries.

Genealogies.

Map.

Critical Essays.

Review Questions and Essay Topics.

Amy Tan's Published Works.

Selected Bibliography.

Historical Background Bibliography.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 115 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(39)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Riveting and intense, another brilliant read from Amy Tan

    I adore the way Amy Tan intertwines more than one story line into her books, at first glance it seems that the tale centers on Pearl, the daughter of a Chinese immigrant, who has morphed into the modern American culture and who finds her mother annoying and old fashioned at times. Once the reader gets familiar with Pearl the story then turns back to her mother, Winnie and her childhood friend Helen. Winnie's story is sad and beautiful at the same time, her suffering and struggles to overcome an abusive husband who's been keeping her from freedom half her life are intense and emotionally moving. Tan's rich, descriptive writing has deep meanings hidden in words. I found myself laughing quite often, which was a surprise because the story is pretty intense. As usual the author supplies us with deep insight into the ugly reality of life, one of my favorite lines was on page 352, "The society is like bright pain applied on top of a rotten wood" which made me stop and think, digest and absorb her wise words, Tan is a master of writing tales with imperfect characters, so many of them have so called rotten bases, and their struggle to improve and move on make the tale even more vivid and intense. In this case it was the way of life for Pearl in wartime China, the harsh reality was that she didn't have much of a saying; all the older men and women in her house seemed to run her life, and the male dominated culture didn't help when the girl was going through hardship, if anything it made her life more hellish, and at times it was hard to read but I continued, good books aren't always pretty.

    This was a good and potent read, I must warn readers that they might get angry at the bad men in Pearl's life, but her struggles never diminished her personality and her big heart, which she has to this day. I feel that Tan's books not only entertain but also teach a lot, not to mention show us how life in the past was so much harsher, and remind us of individual struggles that women still have to go through, whether they are someone's wife or daughter or best friend, and that deep down we are strong, and our stories are beautiful, and that life might never be fair, but we try our best to fight for it.

    - Kasia S.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2011

    A Quick Read

    All of Amy Tan's books have the same formula: Chinese women who have moved to America and tell their American born daughters about their lives in China. This book was very short and the audio was horrible. The book is about Winnie, who decides to tell her daughter Pearl about the secret she has been carrying for 50 years. Before marrying Pearls father, Winnie was trapped in a marriage to an abusive husband. After suffering the loss of many children and going to jail. She is finally able to escape and get out of China. The most interesting things about Tan's books are the cultural practices and superstitions of the Chinese. This book was good but not amazing.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    The Transformation of a Chinese Woman

    By telling the story from the past, many moral lessons were presented through life experiences. Winnie, came to America after she already experienced both the worst and best moment in China. She transformed from an innocent young girl to a stronger woman through the reality from life. Winnie and her daughter have a distant relationship since her daughter is an Americanized girl, which she does not agree on her mother's traditional idea. However, after communicating through life stories, they became closer, maybe her daughter cannot imagine the difficulties Winnie had gone through. Various lessons were presented differently throughout the novel. Although aspects of life may be challenging, however, Winnie had proved that an individual can be both strong and weak at the same time. While surviving through numerous hardships and sufferings, Winnie showed that she is no longer the girl that hides behind people, now she is able to stand up for herself. Great courage is shown as the plot develops. The Kitchen God's Wife is a story that can help the readers understand about different cultures, something that may be a miracle and totally familiar about. Although it is not published for a very long time, but it successfully transported this multicultural society deeper into the knowledge of Chinese traditional aspects towards life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2006

    Better than joy luck club!

    This book is phenomenal and you don't want to put it down. I thought nothing could ever compare to Tan's first book, Joy Luck Club, but this one is actually better!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2013

    I enjoyed this book so much.  Parts of the story were so comical

    I enjoyed this book so much.  Parts of the story were so comical and other parts were very sad.  It made me appreciate more the era and the country in which I live.  Tan has an ability to seamlessly weave one story into another  while having them all seem to flow naturally.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Heartwrenchingly good

    So much misunderstanding between generations is due to each generation's different way of expressing their reasons for doing what they do with their life. Every mother only wants whats best for her kids, at whatever cost. Such a wonderfull storyof a good mother and her struggle for content in life for and her children. I will pass this one to everyone i kbow!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    Fantastic

    This book was so rich in history, atmosphere, emotion, and more, that I could not put it down. The character's lives were spun in a most riveting manner. I would recommend this to everyone. Thank you Amy Tan!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2013

    A BOOK THAT HAS STAYED IN MY MEMORY ALL THESE YEARS. I recently

    A BOOK THAT HAS STAYED IN MY MEMORY ALL THESE YEARS.
    I recently purchased the Nook HD+ and along with it several books. After finishing the third book, I found my mind wondering to what had been my most favorite book and there was only one answer "The Kitchen Gods Wife". I read this book many years ago and to this very day the charactors, the settings, and the wonderful story that unfolded before me with each page has stayed in my mind. I could feel the written words to the depths of my soul. It brought tears to my eyes and conjured up every other possible emotion I had inside. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to experience the wonderful writing of Amy Tan. I know you will enjoy it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2014

    Love the way the author writes. I enjoyed this book and it's a q

    Love the way the author writes. I enjoyed this book and it's a quick read. Books that teach me something I didn't know before are my fav's.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    HELP!!!

    Summary did not make sense . Good or not?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Amy Tan

    I enjoy her books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2009

    Story OK if a little slow

    I bought this as a book on CD and have to say that it was the worst sound quality I have ever heard on a commercial product. It probably colored my opinion of the story as I had to have the sound turned completely up and still had a hard time understanding the reader (the author). I would definitely NOT buy this book on CD again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2009

    Poor Audio Quality

    I love Amy Tan's books, but trying to listen to this audio was impossible. It sounded as if she'd recorded it over a telephone. The quality was so poor I gave up trying to listen to it. Get the book, instead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Not the best of Amy Tan

    I have read several of Amy Tan's novels and have enjoyed them very much. I thought The Kitchen God's Wife was not quite as good as the others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2008

    amazing

    This is the absolute best book I have ever read hands down. It captures and describes emotions, experiences and thoughts that everyone can understand and relate to whether they are Chinese or not. When I read The Kitchen God's Wife I laughed I cried I was angry and a whole lot of other emotions came to me. I thank Amy Tan for writing this book it helped me to see that we are all the same the world over. My only disappointment was that Winnie's first husband took so long to die. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a wholesome and moving reading experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Kitchen God¿s Wife by Amy Tan is more than just a book it¿s a tale of growing up and learning from the past and its mistakes. Told through the narratives of Winnie and her daughter Pearl, this novel explores Winnie¿s life during World War II and how she immigrated to America. Does the plot sound familiar to The Joy Luck Club? Well, this book is more interesting and appealing as it is filled with more Americanized Chinese-isms, puns, and is extremely true to the current Chinese American culture. Both mother and daughter become to understand their heritage, on different levels- Winnie¿s Americanized life and Pearl¿s traditional Chinese past. Instances of their misunderstandings heighten the rift between Winnie, a Traditional Chinese woman, and Pearl, the Chinese-American child. As a fifth generation Chinese-American myself, I¿ve come to appreciate the risks and strife my ancestors endured in order to come to America, like Winnie, as I relate to the emotions and misunderstandings that Pearl expresses in this book. I am normally a very picky reader, but I¿m glad I chose this book because I appreciate Tan¿s insight into the history of China as well as follow the life of Winnie- which is similar to my ancestors who emigrated from China to America during World War II.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2007

    Amazing!

    Amy Tan did it again! This book made the tears flow and yet gave me such a feeling of joy because of the strength within the characters!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2006

    Sure Pleaser

    This is the 1st Amy Tan book I have ever read. I first became interested in her work when I saw the film The Joy Luck Club. I couldn't put the book down. Tan was able to make me laugh, ire, and surprise me with every sentence. Tan wonderfully develops the characters and their stories in such a way that I felt as if I was member of the family. This book is truly wonderful and Amy has a new fan me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2006

    Brilliant

    Amy tan is a fabulous writer.The kitchen God's Wife is one of the best novels i've ever read. It portrays a vivid image of the entire novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    Book Review

    The Kitchen God¡¯s Wife is a remarkable story of intertwined strength and hope that crosses the cultural boarders from old Chinese traditions to new cultural hopes. Amy Tan is able to weave the past influences of Winnie Louie¡¯s harsh life, describing her as an insecure little girl to become a strong minded woman. The past experiences which Winnie Louie encountered convey the message that the paradoxical nature of strength and hope could prompt one to do both good and evil. Winnie¡¯s past was built on layers of hardships and painful memories. The absence of a close family resulting from a prearranged marriage contributed to Winnie¡¯s initial insecurities however, they made her stronger than ever. Married to a cruel and a non loving husband, Winnie struggles to restrain herself from an unhappy life. Living during the Japanese-Chinese War furthered her endurance and determination for a better future it also led to a romantic encounter and an eventual marriage with Jimmy Louie. Their love for each other provided her with a new hope for what destiny may have in store for her. Winnie¡¯s willingness to conceal and eventually confess the truth of her daughter¡¯s real father paralleled to her daughter¡¯s confession of her own kept secrets. The Kitchen God¡¯s Wife is an influential book because it encourages one to consider the importance of family relationships and the honesty between the loved ones.

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