An absorbing novel of romance and revolution, loyalty and family, sacrifice and undying love
We have three souls, or so I'd been told. But only in death could I confirm this....
So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls—stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun—who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends.
As Leiyin delves back in time with the three souls to review her life, she sees the spoiled and privileged teenager she once was, a girl who is concerned with her own desires while China is fractured by civil war and social upheaval. At a party, she meets Hanchin, a captivating left-wing poet and translator, and instantly falls in love with him.
When Leiyin defies her father to pursue Hanchin, she learns the harsh truth—that she is powerless over her fate. Her punishment for disobedience leads to exile, an unwanted marriage, a pregnancy, and, ultimately, her death. And when she discovers what she must do to be released from limbo into the afterlife, Leiyin realizes that the time for making amends is shorter than she thought.
Suffused with history and literature, Three Souls is an epic tale of revenge and betrayal, forbidden love, and the price we are willing to pay for freedom.
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About the Author
Born in Taiwan, JANIE CHANG has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, New Zealand and Canada. She writes historical fiction with a personal connection, drawing from family history and ancestral stories. Chang has a degree in computer science and is a graduate of the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Leiyin learns she has three souls upon her death, souls who explain they are trapped with her ghost until she atones for some egregious transgression in her mortal life. They witness her, through memories, rebel against the patriarchal traditions of her father, suffer the consequences, and live with regrets for her naivety. In the early 20th century, Leiyin controls little about her life, and this during a civil war and Japanese aggression. Epiphanies hit her hard and fast reliving her memories. She must communicate with mortals to appease the gods by rescuing the fates of her loved ones in order to ascend to the afterlife with her souls. Chang’s blending and bending of Chinese culture and history create a compelling narrative of inadvertent espionage and acceptance of one’s place in society. The speculative elements placing Leiyin outside her own story fascinate the reader as they astonish Leiyin. Chang’s novels are educational in many ways, to the anticipated appreciation of readers of historical fiction, speculative fiction, and fans of Tatiana de Rosnay and Laura Spinella.
Three Souls by Janie Chang is a novel tak­ing place in China before World War II. This is Ms. Chang’s debut novel. In China, 1935, Leiyin watches her own funeral and wan­ders why she has not been per­mit­ted to the after­life. Leiyin dis­cov­ers that she is not alone; three souls are there to guide her along the way until she make amends. But first she has to find out what she has to make amends for. Dur­ing her life, Leiyin fell in love with a rad­i­cal com­mu­nist named Hanchin, but at the cost of dis­ap­point­ing her fam­ily and pun­ished for dis­obe­di­ence and ulti­mately he death. Slowly Leiyin dis­cov­ers what she must do to exit limbo and go on to the afterlife. Three Souls by Janie Chang is a very lyri­cal, poignant and inter­est­ing novel which give the uni­formed reader, such as myself, an inter­est­ing back­ground about recent Chi­nese his­tory and cul­ture. While the book does not delve into much phi­los­o­phy, it does give a cer­tain ref­er­ence about the loom­ing Japan­ese inva­sion, people’s fears and the strug­gle between the Nation­al­ists and the Communists. The novel is told through the eyes of the pro­tag­o­nist, Leiyin, who is spend­ing the time in the after­life, reflect­ing back on her life and try­ing to atone for some­thing she has done wrong. The reader doesn’t know what she is try­ing to atone for until the end. I liked the way the author cap­tures the after­life, with the three spir­its who guide us through life, are also our guide in the after­life, each with their own unique per­son­al­ity and advice. The author builds her char­ac­ters well, while I didn’t con­nect with any of them (usu­ally the sign that I won’t like a book), I did feel as if I know them and cared about them. Leiyin strug­gles to get her mes­sage from a state of limbo to the liv­ing were poignant and the solu­tion was unique and interesting. The book lagged at some points, inter­est­ingly at the sec­ond quar­ter, but I did enjoy read­ing the novel and learn­ing about Chi­nese cul­ture, his­tory and belief sys­tem. I am look­ing for­ward to read more books by the author.
After she dies, a woman rights the wrongs she did during her life.