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The Hundred Secret Senses is an exultant novel about China and America, love and loyalty, the identities we invent and the true selves we discover along the way. Olivia Laguni is half-Chinese, but typically American in her uneasiness with her patchwork family. And no one in Olivia's family is more embarrassing to her than her half-sister, Kwan Li. For Kwan speaks mangled EThe Hundred Secret Senses is an exultant novel about China and America, love and loyalty, the identities we invent and the true selves we discover along the way. Olivia Laguni is half-Chinese, but typically American in her uneasiness with her patchwork family. And no one in Olivia's family is more embarrassing to her than her half-sister, Kwan Li. For Kwan speaks mangled English, is cheerfully deaf to Olivia's sarcasm, and sees the dead with her "yin eyes."Even as Olivia details the particulars of her decades-long grudge against her sister (who, among other things, is a source of infuriatingly good advice), Kwan Li is telling her own story, one that sweeps us into the splendor, squalor, and violence of Manchu China. And out of the friction between her narrators, Amy Tan creates a work that illuminates both the present and the past sweetly, sadly, hilariously, with searing and vivid prose....

Title : The Hundred Secret Senses
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780804111096
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 406 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hundred Secret Senses Reviews

  • April
    2018-10-27 12:41

    The Hundred Secret Senses is now one of my favorite Amy Tan novels, rivaled only by The Bonesetter's Daughter. Yes, I love The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife and Saving Fish From Drowning - I love any Tan story I come across - but The Hundred Secret Senses (along with TBD) really stand out. Olivia, the narrator, is the American-born daughter of a Chinese man and an American woman. When her father is on his deathbed, he reveals to his wife that he left behind a daughter in China, and asks her to retrieve the daughter. Enter Kwan, Olivia's older half-sister who believes that she has "yin eyes" and can see and speak to ghosts.Olivia struggles her whole life to ignore and dismiss Kwan's superstitions until her marriage is crumbling and she, her estranged husband and her sister find themselves on a trip to China together. The ending is extremely poignant without being cheesy or unrealistic. Tan plumbs the depths of issues like life and death, reincarnation, history, soul ties, relationships and culture in this story, and I ate it up.

  • Xavier Guillaume
    2018-11-14 11:33

    Let me start off by saying that I LOVE Kwan! Her voice and self-assurance makes her cool, "Oh Libby-ah! I tell you secret. Promise not tell?" And then later in the book she becomes even cooler! A fifty year old lady crawling through caves. I can picture her saying, "We hakka strong! Don't worry me Libby-ah. I be right back!" :) I think a movie would be great! It has suspense, mystery, romance, death, ghosts! Not to mention the amazing visuals detailed in the story.My only criticism is that Olivia's character annoyed me several times. Especially when she is in China. "They don't have electricity?!? They don't have a bathroom inside the house?!? I have to eat that?!? They don't have something normal prepared for me I can eat?!?" That kind of thing. It's like she's saying, "This stuff might be good enough for you Chinese people, but you guys are crazy!" I understand that she learns from her China trip, and she grows out of her shell, but I feel like she should have known anyway. After all, she's been hearing Kwan's stories of China almost all her life. You think she would have learned by now that they don't have much to American standards. Also, her way of thinking is always about her, her, her. I don't think she stops once to think outside herself, what it must have been like for Kwan when she lived there, or what it must be like for her family that still lived there.But getting over that fact, the story really is quite marvelous. :)

  • Margitte
    2018-11-10 10:36

    Pablo Picasso also had his periods: African, Blue, Cubism, Modern, Rose and Analytic cubism.And so have I. Have periods: Russian, Jewish, American, Middle-East, African, you name it.One of my favorites is Amy Tan. Amy Tan-Period. This one is lasting a few years now and most of her books have a central theme: mothers and daughters. Amy Tan did not have a good relationship with her mother, or grandmother, for that matter. It could have been different if she had children of her own to really understood how mothers' minds worked( and find some closure for herself). So with this opinion in mind, I indulge in her books. And I always find what I am expecting: rich, informative, compassionate tales on Chinese culture, the family relationships, the cultural modus operandi, and the endearing characters filling up the spaces in the stories. Of course, there are always subtle cat-scratching and kitty yowling like alley cats on garbage night, raging throughout her tale, ripping any notion of womanly bonding apart. The women seldom love or even like each other, but there is always something strong keeping them connected. It becomes the mainstay of all her books.Five-year-old American-born, Olivia Lee suddenly meets her Chinese half sister, K wan Li, from the Chanmian village in the Thistle mountains, China. She brings her dreams, ghosts, myths and messages with her, bombarding Olivia in her sleep. A love-hate relationship develops over a period of thirty years, with K wan, who calls a spade a spade in any situation, including Olivia's separation from her husband, Simon. Kwan becomes larger than life, interfering in everything Olivia does. Love and bonding is mainly one-sided with Olivia always trying to keep a physical, as well as emotional distance between herself and K wan. She becomes used to K wan not minding her own business, keeping on top of practically every move Olivia makes. However, K wan sees what Olivia doesn't and she's patient with her little sister. During a visit to China, K wan opens up about her personal feelings for the first time (feelings that Olivia never cared much about). (view spoiler)[" Before I left for America, I raised three birds, not just one, so I could make three wishes at the top of the peak (of the mountain where their village is located). I told myself, If these three wishes come true, my life is complete, I can die happy. My first wish: to have a sister I could love with all my heart, only that, and I would ask nothing more from her. My second wish: to return to China with my sister. My third wish' Kwan's voice now quavers - 'for Big Ma to see this and say she was sorry she sent me away.'This is the first time Kwan's ever shown me how deeply she can resent someone who's treated her wrong. 'I opened the cage,' she continues, 'and let my three birds go free. 'She flings out her hand in demonstration. 'But one of them beat its wings uselessly, drifting in half-circles, before it fell like a stone all the way to the bottom. Now you see, two of my wishes have already happened. I have you, and together we are in China. Last night I realized my third wish would never come true. Big Ma will never tell me she is sorry.' She holds up the cage with the owl. 'But now I have a beautiful cat-eagle that can carry with him my new wish. When he flies away, all my sadness will go with him. Then both of us will be free.'(hide spoiler)]The story is told with subtle wit, humor, endearment, and compassion, particularly the relationship between the two bubbly, sprightly sisters and their shared history of thousands of years. Two family secret are included. The prose, always, and alone, inspires me to stick to Amy Tan's books. The stories are always both heart wrenching and gripping. Both lugubriousness and buoyant. I have never read a book of Amy Tan in which I did not feel like family in the end. In this book, love is a central theme and presented in prose of pride. (view spoiler)[" A suitable Hakka bride from our mountains had thick calluses on her feet and a fine, high-boned face. There were other Hakka families living near the big cities of Yongan, in the mountains, and Jintian, by the river. And the mothers from poorer families liked to match their sons to hardworking pretty girls from Thistle Mountain. During the marriage-matching festivals, these boys would climb up to our high villages and our girls would sing the old mountain songs that we had brought from the north a thousand years before. A boy had to sing back to the girl he wanted to marry, finding words to match his song. If his voice was soft, or his words were clumsy, too bad, no marriage. That's why Hakka people are not only fiercely strong, they have good voices, and clever minds for winning whatever they want."We had a saying. When you married a Thistle mountain girl, you get three oxen for a wife: one that breeds, one that plows, one to carry your old mother around. That's how tough a Hakka girl was. She never complained, even if a rock tumbled down the side of the mountain and smashed out her eye." (hide spoiler)]Love, not romance, snakes through the narrative from beginning to end. "Too much happiness always overflows into tears of sorrow". But distant, emotionally-challenged Olivia will finally understand her own history, with a few unexpected surprises in the works, the role of her sister, and the real meaning of hope and love, when she gets to know the Chinese connection in her own life and her bond with some of the characters in K wan Li's dreams and visions. My Amy Tan-period comes to an end with this book. It is almost as though a blueprint was used for all of them and ensured predictability in the pattern it followed. I did find this book a faster read, with lighter, and more humorous moments than the others. Similarities:The main character is the same than in the other books, with similar issues;The mothers are as bad as all the rest of the mothers in her books, with antagonism ruling the relationship from the daughter's side;There is always a broken relationship in America that needs to be patched up, etc.So, it gets a bit déjà vue. The suspense is created in the reincarnation and paranormal aspects of it. She never loses control over the characters. It is still an enjoyable, entertaining read and certainly worth the time to venture of into the mystical world of Chinese culture, folklore and village life. I just love that aspect of her books. This book did not disappoint. However, I had enough of ghosts and reincarnation for a while, though, and in any book for that matter. But yes, I enjoyed it.

  • Silvanna
    2018-10-29 05:27

    I would have given this five stars but for a few things that annoyed me. Simon's sterility didn't ring true and Kwan's constant good humor was a bit grating.Otherwise very, very entertaining!

  • James
    2018-11-01 05:28

    It's become a tradition for me to read Amy Tan's books when flying. My recent trip to Las Vegas was no exception, since at the last minute, I pulled down Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses - the Kindle version - and dived into it as soon as I could turn my electronic devices back on.The book starts, "My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco."There are ghosts a-plenty in this book. Two or three in particular are fundamental to the story line, and the stories of their lives, deaths, and in some cases reincarnations are woven seamlessly into the narrative, as Kwan shifts from her accented English into Chinese to tell her sister Olivia the stories. Kwan spends time in a mental institution for her troubles. To Kwan, the ghosts are real. Olivia, born and raised in America, and not part of the culture Kwan is speaking from, is skeptical. And yet, against her will, over decades of listening to her sister, Olivia has learned the stories, internalized them, and become haunted by some of them herself, as well as taking on a few new ones.The ghosts are the reason Kwan is so desperate to patch Olivia's failed marriage back together. The ghosts and their story are the reason Olivia, Simon (Olivia's ex-husband) and Kwan go to China. But a ghost can't change anything about its life. Ghosts are dead. It's for the living, the dying, and the newly born who ultimately bring the story to resolution.Tan evokes both these women - Olivia and Kwan - so thoroughly you feel as though you know them, that you have known them since you were a child. Through the longstanding argument and story telling between them, she evokes the ghosts as well, and their stories, and their passions, their very lives that were, to the point that they too are characters in the present story.If it sounds disjoint - like I'm still wrapping my head around this book, digesting it, trying to figure out how Tan did what she did, and why - that's because I am. There's a lot of story there. Tan's books are thick, dense with plot and rich with characters, and The Hundred Secret Senses is no exception. Totally immersive, and I found myself wishing my flight had lasted longer than the two hours or so it actually did, so I could get through more of it. As it was, I was up until 2:00am reading it in the middle of my vacation. It's that good. Read it. Enjoy it.

  • Rebbie
    2018-10-29 12:15

    I read The Joy Luck Club years ago (after watching the movie), and now I’m kicking myself that I’ve let years and years pass before picking up her other novels. I could’ve been treasuring these books all along, but maybe this is a blessing in disguise, because Amy Tan’s novels require a certain type of womanly maturity to fully appreciate her stories that can only come with age and experience. In fact, I think I should re-read TJLC because there are probably lots of subtle things that went right over my head. Ahh, the joys of being a naïve teenager.Anyhoo, The Hundred Secret Senses is told from the POV of a half-Chinese American woman named Olivia, who lives in CA, is estranged from her husband, has very little appreciation for her older half sister from China, and goes on a trip with the two of them back to her sister’s hometown of Changmian.I overly simplified the book, but basically it’s a story about a woman at a crossroads in her life who is teeming on the edge of bitterness and ingratitude, but is also in self denial about this. She’s actively pretending that she has no problem with divorcing her husband after 17 years of marriage, and is choosing not to open up to her loving and nurturing sister Kwan, despite the fact that Kwan has been more like a warm and affectionate mother to her than her own biological mother has ever been.I gave Amy Tan an extra star just for writing the character Kwan the way she did. Kwan’s warmth and positivity, her never ending love and forgiveness toward her family, coupled with her firm belief in herself and humble confidence is awe inspiring. My heart ached as I stayed up late last night, flipping through page after page of Kwan’s story, past life and present. I would give almost anything to have a sister like her, or just a relative like her. She’s the symbol of what has been missing in my life since I was born, so it was a little difficult to overlook Olivia’s ingratitude and immaturity.Speaking of immaturity, it was interesting to me that Olivia reminded me more of a woman who would have been a teenager/college student in the 80’s, rather than during the Vietnam era. I honestly have no idea why, maybe she just comes across as a younger soul for some reason, or maybe it’s because she’s 12 years younger than Kwan, so the years apart put a spotlight on Olivia’s tendency to act like a stereotypical bratty sibling.That’s not to say I didn’t like Olivia. In fact, a lot of the choked back tears I held came from reading about her deep insecurity and fears of losing her husband to a woman she can’t even compete with. That’s so unfair, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It’s just sad that almost two decades passed before Olivia was able to begin dealing with her feelings, and the ending summed that up in a realistic way, rather than giving it the typical Hollywood ending that cheapens otherwise good stories.And that’s one of the reasons I know how much Amy Tan loves the stories she creates, because she gives not only her characters respect, but her readers as well. She gives her characters the space they need to sort through grief, sadness, love, etc., rather than just wrapping everything up in a neat little bow and handing it to readers/viewers like so many other books and movies do.It always gives me a crazy case of the angries when they do that.Speaking of wrapping up, I think I’ll do just that with a toast to Amy Tan, one of my new favorite authors.Cheers!Here's my blog: https://rebbiereads.wordpress.com/

  • Anna Engel
    2018-11-14 11:28

    It's the same basic Amy Tan plot. The details have changed, but the essence of the story is exactly the same as every other Tan book I've read. In this case, though, not only does the narrator have mommy issues, she also has older-sister-from-China issues.Basically, I got bored. I've read most of Tan's novels and have realized that she has a template. She found a formula that worked in The Joy Luck Club and hasn't really changed it since then.1. Female main character.2. She's caught between two worlds (China and America) and two or more generations. As a result, she doesn't communicate well with others. She's aloof, she comes across as cold, and she's constricted by guilt.3. This inability to communicate affects all of her relationships. Various aspects of her life fall apart around her (e.g., loses her job, gets divorced, becomes alienated from her family).4. She finds some level of understanding and compassion.5. Hug. We're done.This method of novel-writing is lazy and unfulfilling. Tan found what worked for her readers and hasn't grown as a writer or storyteller.

  • Spider the Doof Warrior
    2018-11-11 13:24

    So I like this book. What I like about it is how sweet Kwan is, but in just about All the Books there is a straight as in serious character who refuses to believe in ghosty things.Which is a bit irritating when you have proof such things exist.Best thing about this book is the concept that these people cared for each other so much they kept being born again just to be with these folks. it's a nice way to look at death, really. Friendly. You loved this guy in this life so he's going to be reborn just to be with you all over again. It was nice how Olivia learned to be more open minded. It was frustrating having the story be in mostly her perspective because I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so insecure, dang it. And that love isn't perfect or without problems. Just because you're not happy all the time with the person you love, doesn't mean it's not love. Also, reading this book again made me get a bit teary in places. It really is a sweet book.

  • Yun Zhen
    2018-11-03 08:33

    Lovely story :) Not as mindblowing as The Bonesetter's Daughter, but good enough for me to stay up into the wee hours just to finish devouring this book. The story started out slow and took longer than I liked to reach the climax and there are still a few unanswered questions that I would have preferred answered, like what was Olivia's father's real name. But I guess in the big scheme of things, these little questions are inconsequential and would have distracted from the main plot. What won me over was Olivia finally accepting her sister and her loyalty and Kwan never coming back, was tragic for me. This book has enough heartwarming tragedies to truly touch the reader. And of course what was magical for me especially, was Amy Tan's unique ability to weave together many loose threads of plot by the end of the book to create a seamless fabric, an infallible truth.

  • ☮Karen
    2018-11-05 06:42

    When I bought this at a used book sale, there was a note inserted, "Her best book." That said, I'm still surprised to see the general rating for this book is higher than The Joy Luck Club and Bonesetter's Daughter, the 2 other Amy Tan books I have read. I didn't like this one quite as much, but still gave it a 4 for it's ability to keep me interested. The main character, Olivia, has an older half sister, Kwan, come live with the family after spending her formative years in China. It takes Olivia some getting used to having this very talkative (to put it mildly) foreigner move into her American home. Kwan keeps Olivia up at night relating stories of ghosts and China. (Spoiler here:) All the stories that Kwan relates to Olivia turn out to be revelations of one of Kwan's past lives, and not dreams as you might first assume. Do you believe in ghosts? In reincarnation? Not something I really think about, but what I never would have imagined is someone having such total recall of a former life, such as Kwan did. It really bored me with details at first, but then Tan upped the pace considerably once the 2 of them go to China together along with Olivia's estranged husband. Kwan is truly a sweetie and loveable, whereas Olivia often acts like a spoiled brat when dealing with her husband and within the sister relationship. Then she is made to question who Kwan really is, why she has shown up in her life, will she ever get back with her husband, as well as what is real and what isn't. Great ending.

  • Ilona
    2018-11-05 13:19

    Amy Tan's novels are really special in many ways. For me reading "Joy luck club" was a comfortable means of sinking in Chinese culture, bound with familiar American environment, something to hold to, like bungee jumping, you sunk into unknown depth but still know that the rope will return you back in proper time. "The Hundred Secret Senses" seemed to me less americanized than the first Tan's novel. Every single step of characters here seems to be linked to Chinese legends, beliefs and traditions. If the "Club" tells about two separate national words, comparing them, in this novel one cannot exist without the other. Olive, one of the two protagonists, notwithstanding her origins, is totally American, both by looks and in her heart. She is organized, practical, prudent and always knowing what she wants. For Kwan, the other main character, the world is not such a simple system. She has "Ying eyes" which allow her to see spirits but apart from this she sees relations between the things and people which are much more complicated than Olive could ever imagine. For Olive her elder sister us a grotesque character, mumbling some nonsense about ghosts and secret senses, telling some strange unbelievable stories and always ready to intrude into her life when she less wants it.The idiolect granted by the author to Kwan (the absence of endings, frequent usage of Chinese words and wrong pronunciation of English ones) also add to the comic effect. As a child Olive feels awkward from Kwan's presence and ashamed of her, later this transforms into a mixed feeling of pity and boredom, one you would feel towards an insane relative whom you have to take care for. The stories narrated by Kwan really seem mad at first but then as you read on you begin to understand the inner sense of them and what is more important, the connection to the main characters of the novel. The world of Kwan is dark, often violent and scary, but still fascinating, you like it even more because it's absolutely different from your own understandable reality. So if you break through the fantasmagonic narration of Kwan in the beginning you will totally enjoy the novel by the end. I like it because Tan isn't afraid to show China as it is, not a picture from travel magazine, not stories adapted for western readers but just like she sees it, with poverty, superstitious beliefs and dark past. It could scary you off but instead it arises the feeling of uttermost affection towards this country with thousand years of tradition and it's people who live in what sometimes seems entirely another planet. The problems Amy Tan touches upon are nevertheless not nationally coloured, they are universal and eternal: she describes all the sides of family relations - daughters who not always understand their eccentric mother keen on affairs with foreigners; the distance between sisters who have twelve years of age between them and elder performing the role of the mother to the younger one; wife and husband whose relations cooled with time; and of course returning to your roots and getting to know the culture and ways of your ancestors. All in all novel will be fascinating to those who would like to sink into the world of China and will remind you that family ties are the strongest and most important of all.

  • Sana Krasikov
    2018-11-13 05:42

    In high school I had a friend with exquisite indie musical taste who was a closeted Cheryl Crow fan. Another friend confronted him and he had to come clean. Amy Tan is kind of my Cheryl Crow. Her accessibility might blind some highbrow readers to the great wit and wisdom in her writing. And I love how she moves narratively between the physical and spiritual worlds as if the line between the two is irrelevant.

  • Regina Ibrahim
    2018-11-09 12:23

    of course i remember reading it long time ago in my late twenties. Refreshing plot and interesting way of depicting cross culture of China and the new generation. The sister with Yin eyes is very convincingly written. Amy's style in all of her books i strongly believed has injected inspirations to many when writing about anything with Chinese in mind. Those dos and don;ts...worth reading!!!

  • Karen Germain
    2018-11-05 13:31

    I'm a huge fan of Amy Tan and I have read all, but her most recent novel. Tan's third novel, The Hundred Secret Senses, follows two sisters as they try to overcome culture gaps to form a bond. The narrator is Olivia, a photographer who sets up the story through flashbacks to her childhood. On Olivia's father's death bed, he tells his family that he has fathered a child who is living in a remote village in China and he wishes for his daughter to be brought to America. When Olivia is six, her adult half-sister, Kwan, is brought to live with her family in San Francisco.Kwan is a bit quirky. She claims to be able to see and communicate with the dead. She is eager to please her new American family, especially Olivia, who finds her customs and invasive nature to be off putting. Most of Kwan's visions of the dead are dismissed as crazy, until Kwan's stories begin to captivate Olivia. Kwan, a very capable storyteller, draws Olivia into her world and she begins to give into the tales of ghosts and past lives.​The Hundred Secret Senses failed to grab my attention. It's a messy story. Half of the novel is comprised of Kwan's ghost stories and the other half is Olivia's rocky relationship with her husband Simon. The story is muddled and between the two story lines, it takes a painfully long time to play out and intersect. Approximately 95% of the novel is leading up to a reveal that just doesn't merit the time invested in the build. What's strange is that the story feels more like it should have been broken down into a series of short stories. The tone doesn't match between the various sections and it's jarring. I really didn't care about Kwan's ghost stories. They bogged down the pacing and it took me weeks to finish the book due to a lack of interest.​ The section involving the trip to China began to renew my interest in the novel. I enjoyed Olivia and Simon's adventure in a foreign culture. However, it wasn't too long before Kwan's stories came back into play and I struggled through the last twenty pages. Kwan is an interesting character, but only when she is rooted in the real world and not in her fantasy life.​I love Tan's writing style and her stories are usually captivating, but this isn't the best example of her talents. ​Please visit my blog for more reviews and musings.

  • Robyn
    2018-11-17 09:41

    Having been a little disappointed by my only other foray into Amy Tan territory - an audiobook of The Bonesetter's Daughter, listened to whilst living in China - I began reading The Hundred Secret Senses with some trepidation, but ultimately an open mind. My boss had lent me her unread copy of the book, asking me to give her my opinion, and I hoped that I would thoroughly enjoy it and hand it back with my blessings and encouragement to get stuck in as soon as possible. I intended to finish The Hundred Secret Senses and finally get around to reading The Kitchen God's Wife, which I've had on my to-read list for several years.Sadly, this was not to be the case. Basic writing, dull storylines, and forced supernatural elements were the least of my issues with this badly-written, seemingly rushed and uinteresting book. The story is told by our unlikely (and unloveable) heroine Olivia, in the first person, a style I tend to find somewhat grating almost every time I encounter it, and something to which Tan has not enamoured me in any way. Choosing not to delve deep into the intertwining cultural, philosophical and emotional strands of Olivia's psyche but rather to deliver shallow, generic observations from a shallow, generic American woman, she totally misses the point of this potentially useful tool.A quote from a critic on the front extolls the virtues of Tan's characters, describing them as "leaping off the page". Frankly, I wonder if she read the same book as me. The narrator is a bitchy, selfish, cold woman, but not to the extent that I am able to "love-to-hate" her. She is frustratingly two-dimensional, with few positive traits to make me wish her well. I found myself bored by her constant complaints, irritated by her lack of compassion and compromise, and appalled by her treatment of the ever-loving sister around whom the story is woven. Yet none of these emotions were strong enough to give me a sense of empathy or affection for the character, even in a negative sense. In fact, I simply found her transparent and easily forgettable. Of course, no person is perfect, and perhaps Tan is simply trying to make us aware of this fact; but the problem is that I do not wish this character well, and I have no innate desire for her to be happy. It's very difficult to read a book told from the point of view of a person the author clearly feels that you should love and admire when you assuredly do not, but it's even harder when it's about someone for whom - quite frankly - you don't give a rat's arse. Her half-hearted apologies for her attitude and actions are so lukewarm as to be dismissed out of hand, and I simply felt sorry for her long-suffering sister and husband . . . for the short spates of time I felt any emotion towards Tan's half-baked characters at all.The supernatural elements of the story were a good concept, but failed miserably in practice. They seemed forced, partially-developed; uninspiring and pointless. If the aim was to create a family drama with a supernatural twist, it didn't work. Instead my reaction was that the novel was another bog-standard, sibling-rivalry, "oh my mother was so mean to me", generic family drama with little to distinguish it other than some ghostly references crowbarred in for good measure. They jarred with the storyline and would, perhaps, have made for an interesting novel on their own had they been better developed and played a larger, deeper part in an otherwise unexceptional book.Tan's descriptions of family life in modern rural China, the rolling mountains of Guanxi and the historical tales of the invaded Middle Kingdom are well-executed and interesting to read. She clearly has a genuine and deep love not only for her own people and homeland, but the history behind both of them. Her enthusiasm and joy comes through in the passages when she is describing the most mundane of tasks, in the most basic of settings; but this, perhaps, is where she should limit her tales. Trying to make them up-to-date by forcing the juxtaposition of tradtional China with modern-day San Francisco is a gamble which did not pay off, simply because the sections of the story which take place in America are lacklustre and boring. Is it because she doesn't care as much? Possibly. It's more likely that no-one's bothered to tell her a few home truths: namely that she's not a bad writer, but has simply mired herself in the style and trappings of a bit-part novelist and trapped the genuine talent and love for her country and history underneath a thick skin of Americanised rubbish.There is, of course, a strong possibility that Tan's intention was to contrast the hidden boredom of American life, with all of its goals, accomplishments and targets with the hidden joy of Chinese life, free as it is of deadlines, assessment criteria, appropriate spouses and 2.4 children. Maye she deliberately wrote the first half of the novel with thinly-veiled unenthusiasm, creating two-dimensional characters with little to endear them to the reader so that one would be forced to "look deeper" and see the real emotion underneath the uninspiring written words. But I doubt it. I think that whilst that may have been her intention, it backfired by being, simply, not very interesting . . . and with no hidden agenda to save it from itself.Tan writes simple books with dot-to-dot plotlines, ideal for someone who wants an easy introduction into the shallower waters of recent Chinese history. Other than that, I don't have a lot with which to recommend her novels; and The Kitchen God's Wife has been struck off my list for the forseeable future.

  • Priya
    2018-10-31 06:17

    Beautifully profound and amazing, soulful writing. I cannot vocalize my thoughts on this without giving away spoilers. But oh, talk about reading something at the right time! This is a dedication to sisterhood, to friendships, to loyalty, to love of all varieties. I would be raving about this wonderful book for a long time to come!

  • Hildred Billings
    2018-10-25 05:42

    As I'm reading all of Amy Tan's works again, I realized, upon reading all their summaries, that "The Hundred Secret Senses" was the only book I couldn't remember anything about. (I read all the books around the same time before, so it wasn't like a loooon time ago.) Probably because Senses is not about Amy's classic mother/daughter dynamic, but a sister/sister relationship. The story is about a 40ish woman named Olivia, who has put up with her elder half-sister Kwan's nosiness and...her incredible ability to talk to spirits. Like a medium. Actually, that's exactly what Kwan is. A very well-meaning medium who can't stay out of anybody's business, and doesn't even care when people call her names and shun her for being weird.Olivia finds herself with a failing marriage, her 17yo relationship with Simon always meddled with the ghost of his first love. Kwan decides the only way to fix their marriage is to take them all on an excursion to her tiny village in China, where Olivia discovers that all of Kwan's stories about past lives and ghosts are true...and what they have to do with herself.The first thing to note about this book is its voice. I'm a firm believer that Tan is one of the only authors who can pull off first person present and not make me want to run for the hills screaming. That said, there are two POVs in this book - one for Olivia, and one for Kwan. Olivia is a snooty, bratty woman (and child) with a fantastic "woe is me and my messed up family" complex that makes you want to slap her more than once. (And so of course I loved Olivia, because she reminds me of the type of person we hate because she says what we all are thinking but don't have the balls to say.) On the other extreme, we have Kwan, who speaks in broken English. They both love going off on tangents that make you forget what they were originally talking about. But if you're not new to Tan's books, this shouldn't bother you at all.I found myself gobbling this book up and wondering why the hell I never remembered it. I mean, there's no "reveals" because all the "omg what a twists!" are so damn obvious that even M. Night wouldn't touch them, but the actual writing itself keeps you along for the ride. "Why don't I remember this? This could easily become one of my favorite books!" I thought to myself. Then I got to the ending.Which is where a star off comes from.The ending is trite and contrived, and overall a huge disappointment that makes you go, really? I think I rolled my eyes so hard they're still trying to go back into place. And in that process, the ending asked way more questions than it answered. The pure "whatever" I felt at the end reminded me why I never remembered anything about this book later. Still, you'll notice I gave it four stars - because until the end, I really did love this book, from Olivia's epic cynicism to Kwan's witty stories. As long as I pretend the last two chapters didn't happen, I'm good!

  • Claire - The Coffeeholic Bookworm
    2018-10-31 07:18

    Her father dropped the bomb before he died. He admitted that he had another daughter from China and requested to bring her to America. Olivia was dumbfounded when she met learned that her half sister, Kwan, was kind of weird. Kwan was older than her but Olivia felt like she was going to be the bigger sister in the family. Sharing a room with her proved to be quite an ordeal. How would you feel when your sister told you that she'd been seeing ghosts and had the ability to talk with the spirits. She's got Yin Eyes, she said. And she often talked about her past life. Creepy, right? At the end of the day, one couldn't help but accept Kwan's differences and fall for her eccentricities. When Olivia's own marriage was on the rocks, Kwan made a move to help her sister out. She brought them to China and soon Olivia and Simon realized what they'd been missing in their relationship. And how they were interconnected to each other's life. I got this book 4 years ago from work. A colleague gifted this to me during Christmas, along with another book (Pearl Moon by Katherine Stone). I've always loved Amy Tan's books, one of my favorites from her is the Joy Luck Club. With The Hundred Secret Senses, my admiration for Tan increased. She encapsulated stories of reincarnation, marriage beliefs, past lives and even Chinese cultures. This is a story inside a story, just like Inception, and you can't help but put yourself inside their story and get involved and drawn to the characters. I have yet to read The Bonesetter's Daughter which had been highly praised by a lot of readers. But for now, The Hundred Secret Senses is my favorite Amy Tan novel.

  • Javier
    2018-11-03 08:34

    How shall I say this? The main protagonist/narrator of this book is a jerk. A giant one. I don't understand for a moment why it takes almost losing her husband and actually losing her sister for her to stop being a jerk for more than 10 minutes, but it does. This is probably also why I don't generally like romantic comedies. I expect everyone to have figured out how to be compassionate or at least somewhat emotionally intelligent by the time they've reached their mid-30s...which doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?The secondary protagonist, the main character's sister, was delightful. Overbearing, sometimes, yes. It's a simple narrative trick of the author, but very illustrative that when she switches from narrating in somewhat broken english to chinese, her language becomes deeper, richer, occasionally even rather poetic. Actually, I wish the entire novel had been about her and her life (lives?) in China.With the exception of the (horribly cliche) ending, Amy Tan manages to keep this book interesting throughout, and to circumvent predictability with little twists and turns that kept me reading late into the night and early into the morning.

  • Christine
    2018-11-04 06:30

    What an odd book. This is one of those I never would have picked up had it not been for my book club, and another one of those reasons I'm glad I'm in a book club, and that I use it to help me read outside of my comfort zone. I'm still not entirely sure what this book was about, nor what I'm supposed to believe about it, but it was very human and intense. There was something, underneath all the talk of ghosts and past lives, very believable about this story...like something you know is there even though you can't really see it. I'm not sure how to classify this story. It's only paranormal if there really were ghosts and past lives in it, and then only if those things don't really exist. It's a love story, but not a romance. I'll have to be satisfied calling it "other" and then recommending it to those who find themselves in a mood for something a little different.

  • Lori
    2018-10-29 13:35

    This book is a huge favorite of mine. I've read it a couple of times and I don't re-read books very often! I just loved Kwan. Amy Tan's dialogue for her is so rich and real, I could hear Kwan's voice in my head!The whole past-life/reincarnation storyline was fascinating. When I started to put it all together it was a HOLY SHIT moment - then I couldn't put the book down. Just as good, in a different way, as Joy Luck Club.I would LOVE this to be a movie, but Amy Tan's book-to-movie record has been rather sketchy.

  • Bashayer
    2018-11-05 06:44

    أحب كوان، أشباحها وأصدقاءها الميتين، ذكرياتها وحيواتها السابقة، إيمانها العميق بذاكرتها وإحساسها، وحبها اللا محدود. أحب قراءة الأساطير، الخرافات الشعبية، الثقافات القديمة وكل ما حولها، وآمي تان هنا صاغتهم بذكاء في روايتها. الحب في الرواية بين سيمون وأوليفيا كان الشيء العاديّ والمبتذل نوعًا ما -الوحيد- مقابل سحر باقي حكايات الرواية. استمتعت بها كثيرا. فيه شيء مفقود مع الترجمة، أسلوب كوان في الكلام، ركاكة انجليزيتها مقابل طلاقتها بلغتها، أظنه كان ساحر أكثر باللغة الأصل اللي انكتب بها العمل. ولكنه لا يزال ممتع، ولا تزال شخصيتها الأفضل في الرواية.

  • Diana C. Nearhos
    2018-10-27 06:27

    Olivia just wants to live her life as a mostly-American Chinese-American, so she's always resented her half-sister who won't let go of China. Kwan sees yin (ghosts) and is always interfering.While we learn about their dynamic, Kwan tells us the story of her past life in rural China in 1862.To be honest, for three-quarters of this book, I found it kinda interesting but not great. I wasn't sure I'd read the other two Tan books on my shelf, because with 200 unread books, you have to trim somewhere. But then I got to that final quarter and bam it got really interesting all at once. So now I'm a little unsure of where I stand.This was a slow-moving book. I'm often just fine with slow-moving, but I need to feel like I'm heading somewhere and I didn't get that feeling for much of this book. Once we had a destination, I got more into it.The ending made me think more about friends and sisters and what both and loyalty to both really means.Also the rumination on reincarnation was really interesting.

  • Dorothy Weigand
    2018-10-23 13:16

    I rated this book 4/5. I loved it. I enjoyed Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club and I was right in thinking I would like this book as well. It's very good and really talks about something a lot of families go through: the bonds between sisters from different parents. I understand that some siblings get along and others don't, but simply having only one parent in common is no grounds for that. I am pretty glad I've read this book and I plan to read more of her works when I find them.

  • Faizan
    2018-11-13 12:38

    What a beauty.It made me think of On the Jellicoe Road, ..What a great work to create a character like Kwan. Oh, Amy Tan, why you did that you did in the end. I was looking for a happy ending, although it was not sad, but kind of not necessary. That made me sad. After reading nearly 300 nice pages, it was a surprise that something like this will happen.Read this and more review on my site.But overall, I liked the book. Best part is the way Kwan talks. Libby ah. She is so cool. Loving her sister even before the birth. Loyal friend.It was my first book which is that much related to China that much. It was fun watching China from view of Simon and Oliviah. They were so clueless. Simon was.Oliviah, i do not know, why she act like a whinny girl . Her sister was so cool. The stories of Kwan's past life were superb. Yin eyes concept is new to me, but the way author write it, it was not the fear that evoked, but the excitement. Kwan has the gift.the language as i said it, Kwan does the funny talk and Olivia is sad all the time. Why she hate everyone. I read the review of someone, in which reviewer write that Amy's relations were not good with her mother, that's why in every novel of her, protagonist hate their mothers.Might be the reason is this because Olivia was unnecessarily hating her mother. Melodramatic.Melodrama is lot in the book but in a good way. Simon and Yabin scenes draw attention. Miss Banner, Cape, Faher, Duck eggs, and the scenes of Chinese village are written very well.In short, this is the book that made me realize that why I started reading adult-fiction. I am going to try more of Amy.My Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Blogger

  • Christiana Hadji
    2018-10-24 05:42

    H αφηγήτρια του μυθιστορήματος, η Ολίβια, είναι κόρη Αμερικανίδας και Κινέζου μετανάστη, ο οποίος στο νεκροκρέβατο του αποκαλύπτει πως έχει αφήσει μια μεγαλύτερη κόρη στην Κίνα, την Κουάν, και ζητά από τη σύζυγο του να την φέρει στην Αμερική. Η Κουάν από την αρχή επιδεικνύει μεγάλη αφοσίωση και προσκόλληση απέναντι στην μικρή της αδελφή, ενώ αντίθετα η Ολίβια κρατάει τις αποστάσεις της από την ιδιόρρυθμη Κουάν, η οποια ισχυρίζεται πως μπορεί να επικοινωνεί με τα πνεύματα των πεθαμένων.Όταν η Ολίβια χωρίζει από τον σύζυγο της, η Κουάν είναι αποφασισμένη να τους συμφιλιώσει, αφού τα πνεύματα επιμένουν πως είναι γραφτό τους να είναι μαζί. Οι δυο αδελφές αποφασίζουν να αναζητήσουν τις ρίζες τους στην Κινα. Εκεί η Ολίβια αναγκάζεται να αντιμετωπίσει την αδελφή της για να μάθει τα μυστικά που κρύβει το παρελθόν της, και κατα πόσο τελικά οι ιστορίες φαντασμάτων που άκουγε από παιδί να της διηγείται είναι πραγματικές ή αποκύημα της φαντασίας της. Οι αποκαλύψεις που ακολουθούν θα την συγκλονήσουν, θα την κάνουν να καταλάβει καλύτερα το μυστήριο που λέγεται Κουάν και θα της υποδείξουν τον δρόμο για την ευτυχία. Η Ταν για άλλη μια φορά μας διηγείται μια μαγευτική ιστορία αδελφικής αφοσίωσης και αυτοθυσίας, εμπλουτισμένη με μύθους και δοξασίες από την κινέζικη κουλτούρα.

  • Barb Newman
    2018-11-16 06:18

    I've read most of Amy Tan's books over the years so when I found this one on the community market book table for a quarter, I had to look hard at it to remember if I'd read it already! I'm so glad I picked it up because I loved it!Amy Tan does a great job of tying her heros, typically a very modern American born and raised Asian women (in this book Olivia) to in her ethic background by having wonderful characters of the mother, auntie or in this case, a long lost half sister - Kwan. Kwan adores her new little sister Olivia, but Olivia is not so enamoured. I quickly fell in love with Kwan, and kept wishing Olivia would return Kwan's love. Olivia creates plenty of her own reasons to ignore her sister, such as the fact that Kwan sees ghosts. Kwan is not afraid to tell her sister all about the words of wisdom the ghosts have for her. Olivia even learns to understand Kwan's native language by listing to her nightly stories!When Kwan discovers Olivia and her husband Simon are getting a divorce, the ghosts recommend the three of them take a trip to China. All three lives are affected in different ways by the fascinating trip.Highly recommended.

  • Natalia Pì
    2018-11-11 12:25

    My first book by Amy Tan, it was a good experience. I read it rather fast, and enjoyed most of it. I say most of it, because for some reason, my reading slowed down in the second half, which is also why I gave it three stars and not four.The story moves back in time between the late 1800s, in a Chinese village populated by the Hakka, together with some Christian missionaries, and today's San Francisco and China. The parts about China in the past were the ones where, occasionally, my interest dwindled, but not enough to stop the book, not because the story was not interested but because they were told by Kwan, one of the main characters, in her broken English. Whereas that adds a lot to the character (she was possibly one of my favourite characters in a book, lately) it also makes longer chapters told in her voice a harder read.The parts that take place in our time are very nice, I especially enjoyed the interaction between Olivia and Kwan. I wish I had a big sister like her, it would be challenging but great :)Mst of the time it was an enjoyable book that I often wanted to go back to reading. I'll read more by this writer, definitely.

  • Sara Zovko
    2018-11-17 07:41

    Neobična priča o razlikama koje čine Ameriku s jedne strane i Kinu s druge. Kina, zemlja tradicije, običaja i privrženosti obitelji i Amerika, moderna, užurbana i potpuno drugačijih pogleda na život. Ovdje se radi o dvije sestre, jedna , odrasla u Americi, druga je 18 godina svoga života provela u Kini , a zatim došla u Ameriku. I tu sve počinje, Kwan ima yin oči, ona može vidjeti mrtve , razgovarati s njima i razumjeti ih. Kwan, tvrdi da je već živjela prošle živote i priča o njima svojoj mlađoj sestri koja ju smatra za budalu i pomalo ludu i ne vjeruje joj, a onda odlaze u Kinu i tu se sve mijenja. Priče počinju dobivati svoj okoliš, oblik i smisao i mlađa se sestra počinje pitati što je zapravo stvarnost i što je istina. Vidi li zaista Kwan mrtve? Jesu li njezine priče istinite? Ljubav, obitelj, prošlost i drugi svjetovi o kojima tako malo znamo, isprepliću se kroz ovaj roman. Kraj me i nije oduševio, očekivala sam puno više, ali sve u svemu, solidno.

  • Deirdre
    2018-11-21 05:35

    I found this pretty slow really. I wasn't emotionally inevsted in the characters enough to care about the parallel stories. I enjoyed the section set in China for most of it, but found the resolution contrived and shallow. The relationships felt, one dimensional. Perhaps it was intentional given the book was narrated by Olivia, but I didn't get any depth out of them. I despised the ghost of she who came before.The reflections in the parallel stories were somewhat interesting, and the mythos stood up internally. It was a quick and easy read. I wouldn't seek out any more Tan books as a result of it though. I've a fair feeling it'll be mostly forgotten by me in 3-4 years.