The main character, Pearl, narrates the interesting and terrifying story of her mother's life and tries to intertwine her observations into the context of her own life. This novel would have been amazing had the main character not been a stuck-up, narcissictic harpy, letting her bored and naieve ruminations unhappily influence the flavor of the story, which was unhappy enough as it was. However, the chapters that Pearl's mother narrated were really quite breathtaking.
No one tells a story like Amy Tan; she weaves an engrossing tapestry of charachters in the world of Chinese immigrants living in California that is both touching and complex. I was sorry to get to the end of the book and was left wanting more.
Such a lovely complex story linking past with present, secrets with truth, and a sorrowful and endearing tale. Tan manages to tie it all together and give the reader a real sense of completion without being too contrived. An interesting look into Chinese culture and thinking, also.
The Kitchen God's Wife is said to "be bigger, bolder and better" (Washington Post)than her first novel, The Joy Luck Club. Once the reader gets into the mind of the real narrator of the story, the world of Chinese society and thought is revealed. A good read.
From Publishers Weekly
Tan's ( The Joy Luck Club ) mesmerizing second novel, again a story that a Chinese émigré 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.
From 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 characterization will captivate their interest to the very last page. --Nancy Bard, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
An native-born Chinese woman shares her life struggles and triumphs with her American-born daughter. This is an amazing story, I loved the cultural details shown of Chinese life during and after WWII, it gave many perspectives that I had not considered before, observations from outside the American culture. I highly recommend this.
Winnie is a powerhouse who has fought, laughed at, and struggled with life; Pearl is the daughter who grew up in Winnie's shadow. Pearl has a secret she doesn't want her mother to know because Winnie will blame herself, worry, be mad she wasn't told right away. Winnie has secrets she doesn't want to tell Pearl: she's afraid she won't understand, that she'll be hurt. Auntie Helen knows their secrets and thinks it is time for each of them to tell. Winnie was born in China seventy years ago and experienced her mother's desertion, a cultural revolution, and a very bad marriage. How can she explain these things to her American-born daughter, the one who keeps to herself and wouldn't even allow herself to cry when her father died? But as Winnie lets Pearl in, Pearl learns more than just her mother's story. She learns about herself, about the costs she and her mother pay to keep their secrets, and she learns to share her own secrets. Mothers can both support our roots so we can stand on our own and remove the top soil that nurtures us - this is a story of mothers doing both. --