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The Kitchen God's Wife

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  50,803 ratings  ·  1,417 reviews
With the same narrative skills and evocative powers that made her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, a national bestseller, Tan now tells the story of Winnie Louie, an aging Chinese woman unfolding a life's worth of secrets to her suspicious, Americanized daughter.
Paperback, 415 pages
Published November 2nd 1993 by Vintage (first published 1991)
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Willow
Amy Tan writes about women (complex women!) and I think that’s one of the things I love about her books. The men in her stories are shadows, almost undeveloped, with little presence except when they are cruel and threatening.

I found this closed women’s world wonderfully refreshing, especially after reading so many books where men are the main focus. In The Godfather, Mario Puzo jumped into Mama Corleone’s point of view for just one small bit; just long enough to reveal that the wife of the mafi
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Julia
Aug 14, 2007 Julia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mothers and daughters
Shelves: readitandlovedit
great story about a relationship between a mother and daughter. we all, to some degree, struggle with our relationships with our mothers. this book made me look deeply at my own relationship with my mom and got me thinking about how much about my mom and her life that i still don't know. my mom is reading this now and we've had some great conversations about this and what it means to our own relationship.

this is a wonderful story about (1) the incredible love of a mother; (2) cultural assimilat
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Caroline
The book starts out in contemporary America, and is narrated by Pearl – a second generation Chinese emigrant, who is trying to balance her own 21st century American family life with the needs of her Chinese mother and her mother’s friends. From the third chapter on the narrating is taken over by Winnie, Pearl’s mother, and it transforms into being the story of her life – told against the background of her living in Shanghai in the 1930s and 40s, under the Kuomintang, but with the Communists alre ...more
Hollie
Maybe its because I just finished it, but I really liked this book. This is a story of a Chinese woman named "Winnie" and the secrets she keeps from her daughter, not only to protect her daughter, but to protect herself and her best friend. As with many of the books we read, Winnie has had a hard life, almost horrific in some respects but the reason I love her is that the story isn't tragic, she doesn't complain about it (too much), or make herself out to be a hero, well except maybe in her own ...more
Jennifer Cole
What I learned from this book--my favorite part:

"Isn't that how it is when you must decide with your heart? You are not just choosing one thing over another. You are choosing what you want. And you are also choosing what somebody else does not want, and all the consequences that follow. You can tell yourself, That's not my problem, but those words do not wash the trouble away. Maybe it is no longer a problem in your life. But it is always a problem in your heart."
Bloodorange
I officially do not want to read anything by Tan again. At least this is how I feel at the moment.

Why the three stars: The Kitchen God's Wife is very well written, but I hated what this book was doing to me. The WWII in China is merely a backdrop for the protagonist's personal drama of epic proportions; suffice to say that when something very bad, but not exactly cruel, happened (view spoiler), I felt relief
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Tania
She is not related by blood, not even by marriage. She is not someone I chose as my friend. Sometimes I do not even enjoy her company. I do not agree with her opinions. I do not admire her character. And yet we are closer perhaps than sisters, related by fate, joined by debts. I have kept her secrets. She has kept mine. And we have a kind of loyalty that has no word in this country.


3.5 stars. The Kitchen God's Wife covers many themes and places, yet it is very easy to read. After reading it I ha
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Julie
This is my favorite of Amy Tan's books. I loved it!
Joyce
I decided to re-read this since it had been at least 15 years since I first read it and I remembered it not one whit (that says more about me than it does the novel). Yet there are Cliffs Notes on it now?! Arrgh! A friend of mine who teaches with me also admitted that she got tired of teaching the Joy Luck Club, so she started teaching this one instead because many of the same themes are explored.

I'd agree it's every bit as satisfying as the Joy Luck Club, although if I had to choose between the
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Kasia S.
I adore the way Amy Tan intertwines more than one story line into her books, at first glance it seems that the tale centers on Pearl, the daughter of a Chinese immigrant, who has morphed into the modern American culture and who finds her mother annoying and old fashioned at times. Once the reader gets familiar with Pearl the story then turns back to her mother, Winnie and her childhood friend Helen. Winnie's story is sad and beautiful at the same time, her suffering and struggles to overcome an ...more
Mehrsa
I wasn't quite expecting this book to rival Joy Luck Club in complexity or originality, but I don't think it even came close. It starts out with a mother/daughter relationship, but the story quickly turns to the mother's story of an abusive first marriage in feudal China and WWI. The characters are one dimensional and the story is just not original. Her husband is just absurdly bad and most of the characters are flat and uninteresting. It's too long for what it wanted to convey. At the end, it t ...more
Joyce
This book was better than expected. I especially loved the relationship between Winnie and Helen. The relationship reminded me of my Mom's with her sister with some crazy ways of looking at things.

Winnie went through some hard, terrible times. Yet the book was not depressing. Winnie had a lot of inner strength. She just didn't know it and thus she lacked confidence in herself. Plus she was also trapped. Living with fear and brutality really impacts one's mind to the point where just surviving i
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Carla
I thought I had read this book many years ago, but knew that if I had, I would notice right away. I guess I didn't read it! What an wonderful story. A story of secrets held for many many years. Of a Mother and daughter from not only different generations, but cultures and continents. I find the stories of new immigrants and their American born children fascinating. Particularly when the immigrants life in their home country was impoverished, abusive, and horrifying particularly due to war. There ...more
Anthony Padua
Anthony Padua
12-19-13
Per. 3
Mr. Brandt Final

The Kitchen God's Wife tells the story of Pearl, a Chinese American woman who lives in California with her family. The book is set in various places in California during the 1980's, when many people from all over the world were immigrating to the U.S. Living with her husband and two daughters, Pearl frequently visits her mother, the very mother who escaped China during the Japanese invasion during World War II. Pearl, as well as her mother does every
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Sera
Another fantastic work by Tan. Tan has a tremendous gift when it comes to her story-telling and her ability to interweave Chinese culture, language and history is not only genius, but also gives her works of fiction incredible authenticity.

TKGW is a story within a story about three Chinese women who emigrated to America, but the real story (and the better story) is what happened to them before they came to America - WWII, the men in their lives and their children not only define the women that t
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Tracy
Make it stop! The first quarter of the book was okay, though I was waiting for something to actually make me care. It was a story about family and secrets and interaction - but then the interaction stopped and with no segue a woman is talking about her history and the abuse she endured and war and infant mortality... it's not clear if she's having 'an episode', if she's talking TO someone, or what.

I began forwarding through random (long) chunks to try to get past this depressing and (so far) poi
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Ervin Patrick
Ai-ya! While I was reading, I felt Wen Fu around me! Sometimes, I felt like throwing the book on his face or tearing the book apart thinking he would feel torn apart too! But, of course, I can't afford to tear my books apart so I just had to wait when the gods would collect Wen Fu's debts!

This is a very POWERFUL book! and I really mean something that can make you sympathize - smile, and have teary eyes! The characterization is very vivid! I can almost feel I was in China during the war - and bec
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Karschtl
I enjoyed this book very much! One of the rare cases where I gave the full 10 stars at Bookcrossing. Here at Goodreads with only 5 stars I give them a little tiny bit more often.

Anyway, very well written, easy to read (because of the 'simple' language Winnie uses) and an absolutely interesting tale. Shocking at times and I felt sorry for Winnie more than once. I was glad that I knew from the beginning that at some point her life changed for the better.

Bought my own copy later on, after this one
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Sarah
Why do I love these books? They are all about women who try to think and feel at the same time. They are taught to be submissive and understand the feelings of others to the extreme. Imagine how hard it is for a smart woman to be logical, kind, understanding ,caring, in a world full of crisis, power and politics. It's amazing that she was able to find love and comfort for a short time in her life.
Tasha Swinney
This was my first Tan novel. Previously I read her memoir on writing, The Opposite of Fate, and I loved it. I figured I'd read her fiction when the right time came and the right time came when I moved to China and had no internet.

Wow, so what to say? This book contains a whole lot of sad. Is that Tan's thing? I'm not sure but it IS a really beautiful portrayal of mother/daughter relationships, and all sorts of family and friendship relationships. And the plot twists, gosh the plot twists! Tan i
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Barbara
This a story about family. Set mostly in China during WWII, Winnie attempts to describe her life in China to her daughter. This is a family with many secrets. Truly, this is a story of fear, guilt, obligation, forgiveness, redemption, but most of all, it is a story about love.

Be prepared, this book will make you hungry. There are multiple descriptions of food. The whole story is a sensory adventure with all the smells and sounds and tastes vividly described.

This book will make you cry. The cha
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Natalie
I lost momentum about halfway through this book. The beginning was interesting, with the dynamic between the mother and daughter. I hate to say it, but I actually grew tired of reading about how crappy her life was. I know it sounds callous, but I have no respect for a woman who stays with her husband after he maims and then kills her child. Had that been me, I would have gone anywhere, even lived off the streets to get away from that man. The problem was, Weila was so proud and didn't want to l ...more
Annette
Jan 25, 2009 Annette rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenagers
I have to say, this book probably took me more than 2 months to finish. At first I regretted picking and buying this book when I read the first 200 pages. But when I was told we had 3 more weeks before the marking period ended, I panicked! This was the only book that I read throughout the whole marking period for advisory and I still have about 200 more pages to go. So then I forced myself to read at least 10 minutes per night. Then on Friday night (1/9), I got hooked onto this book. I read at l ...more
Hildred Billings
If there's one thing Amy Tan is comfortable with, it's the mother-daughter relationship, particularly between Chinese immigrant mothers and their jaded American-born daughters. "The Kitchen God's Wife" is absolutely no exception. Tan's sophomore novel, "The Kitchen God's Wife" follows on the footstep's of Tan's smash debut "The Joy Luck Club". The easiest way to look at this novel is as essentially the same thing as "The Joy Luck Club", but focusing on one relationship as opposed to four.

The st
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Kathryn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meri
This is my second Amy Tan, and I have to say that I don't understand how she earned a place among America's greatest authors. I have not read The Joy Luck Club, so maybe that's the problem.

I did enjoy this one very much. Amy Tan has a way with characters. The story starts out from the perspective of the daughter, who has a fraught relationship with her overbearing mother. When the perspective switched over to the mother, I was unhappy with the change. I didn't like the mother! My opinion changed
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Erin
Reading a book by Amy Tan is like getting back in touch with a old friend. Because her characters and plots tend to be consistent from book to book, there's a constant feeling of familiarity and predictability - but in a good way. If you liked the Joy Luck Club or the Bonesetter's Daughter - you're definitey going to like this book as well.

Let’s face it, it’s difficult to find a more dramatic backdrop for a novel than China during WW2 – with the Japanese invaders, the Kuomintang, the Communists
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Lakeshia
Apr 02, 2009 Lakeshia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lakeshia by: Thrift Store
Shelves: fiction
I'm starting to become a big fan of Asian themed novels. These books give you a sneak peek into the their world and family relationships. Most of Tan's novel is based on relationships between mothers and daughters in Asian families. In this novel, Winnie, the mother of Pearl has a deep dark secret that she's been keeping to herself for years. It isn't until someone close to her decides to unleash that secret that Winnie decides its time to reveal the truth to her daughter.

No matter whether your
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Hyun Jung
Sep 22, 2007 Hyun Jung rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: advisory07-08
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria Longley
I found the framing of this story awkward and quite irritating, but once you get past the slow start it is an absorbing tale of Weiwei's life before and in wartime China.
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Amy Tan (Chinese: 譚恩美; pinyin: Tán Ēnměi; born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and what it means to grow up as a first generation Asian American. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her most popular fiction work, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film.

She has written several other books, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hun
...more
More about Amy Tan...
The Joy Luck Club The Bonesetter's Daughter The Hundred Secret Senses Saving Fish from Drowning The Valley of Amazement

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“Chance is the first step you take, luck is what comes afterward.” 212 likes
“Isn't that how it is when you must decide with your heart? You are not just choosing one thing over another. You are choosing what you want. And you are also choosing what somebody else does not want, and all the consequences that follow. You can tell yourself, That's not my problem, but those words do not wash the trouble away. Maybe it is no longer a problem in your life. But it is always a problem in your heart.” 111 likes
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