Friday, 10 June 2016

Book Review: Three Souls by Janie Chang.


Book: Three Souls

Author: Janie Chung

Pages: 439

Read On: My Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: 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.

General Thoughts: I've had this book on my Kindle since it first came out!
I've wanted to read it since then but for some reason or another, rather some book or another this has not made it to my reading list!
A couple of nights back, while browsing on my Kindle I started reading it and couldn't put it down! 
I loved it and was sucked into this story! 

Things I Liked: 

1. I am always looking to read more diversely. I do read plenty diverse books from all over the world but I haven't read that many books set in China or really South East Asia even! This is some thing I want  to amend. And this book was a very good first step in that direction. 

2. I loved the setting of this book. China in the 1920s-30s. I've studied a little bit of Chinese history in college and this book brought all of that flooding back. Names I studied such a long time ago and politics and socio-economic climes and changes all came back to me via this book. I loved this. And I am grateful to know and remember my Chinese history! 

3. The three souls were so well explained and each of these souls are so well etched out and it was so well written and became important characters in the novel. 

4. Leiyin was such a lovely person to get to know and see her life and her mistakes and see her journey. 

5. The writing was stellar. 

6. There wasn't a dull moment in this book. The story moves along swiftly and I kept turing pages to see what happened to Leiyin and those she loves. 

7. The family life of a Chinese family was shown so well and it made for such interesting reading. I learnt so much about their social norms and their protocols. The existence of concubines and illegitimate children being acceptable for one such thing I found utterly fascinating. 

8. The book goes back and forth, to a flashback of Leiyin life and her mistakes and then to the discussion about it with her souls. I loved this format and the introspection it evoked. 

9. I loved Leiyin's family, especially her sisters and their marriages and the choices they make in their lives. I also loved the sly correspondence that went on between the sisters. 

10. The latter half of the book is devoted to the things Leiyin does as ghost to ensure the safety of her daughter. So this changes the pace of the book slightly and the flashbacks stop but we get to see her family, especially her in-laws and husband live their lives after her demise, this too was very interesting. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. The last 20% of the book wasn't as enchanting or riveting as the beginning. I felt the narrative lost some steam as Leiyin began her life as ghost and tired doing things to ensure a better life for her daughter. 

2. Also some reveals made in the end of the book were fairly easy to guess. 

3. Also some of the things Leiyin does are clearly self-destructive and mistakes, yet even though she is such an intelligent and perceptive person she fails to see through the manipulations of a past love/crush. 

Rating: 4/5 

I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. 



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