Monday, March 31, 2014

Three Souls by Janie Chang

4 Star

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.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

Three Souls will appeal to fans of Amy Tan or historical fiction, particularly historical fiction set in Asia. This book was quite exceptional in many ways especially in the wonderful way the story and setting were detailed. I am not the biggest fan of historical fiction yet I found myself completely engrossed in the story despite my initial hesitation.

The plot moved along over many years at a fairly rapid pace and I rarely, if at all, found myself bored which is what typically happens for me with fiction of this sort. It demonstrated to me the extreme power of Janie Chang's writing debut.

The story was set in an era that I do find captivating, namely the 20s and 30s, so it was interesting to see what China was like during that period versus what North America was like at that time.

Three Souls had so many things that appealed to me. The characters were quite real and seemed genuine in their actions and speech. The story involved a few love stories and heartbreak, which most great stories typically do but this one definitely had a unique take on things. I also liked the fact that a different type of family dynamic was described, in a lot of detail, to give me a new perspective on things that I had never considered before. 

The only thing that gave me pause was the three souls part of the story but after a little while, once I became used to it, it truly added to the story as I felt that perhaps it was something that would be part of the Chinese culture or beliefs that I was not previously aware of.

Three Souls truly was a wonderful and eye opening love story that enriched my understanding of a different culture.

Thank you to Harper Collins for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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