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Three Souls

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  950 ratings  ·  221 reviews
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 af
Paperback, 439 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by HarperCollins Canada
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helen the bookowl
This was an AMAZING book and everything I could have hoped for! I was contemplating reading it for weeks and some days ago I finally decided to pick it up.
I like to call this story a modern retelling of "A Christmas Carol" set in China because it deals with a main character who dies. However, before she is sent to heaven, she is visited by three souls who take her through her life. They say that something went wrong in her life and that she needs to rectify it before she can continue to heaven.
Susan Rubin
Can’t stop thinking about this book.

It’s 1935 China and the story opens with the ghost of a young woman watching her own funeral. Leiyin can’t remember her past, but she knows she should be in the Afterlife, not still here on this earth. Despite such a beginning, this is not a ghost story, not yet. It’s a historical novel, narrated by a ghost as she watches her memories unfold up to the day of her death to learn how she died and what crime she committed. The three souls of the title belong to Le
5 stars - Utterly amazing.

Beautiful, unique, haunting, and utterly memorable are the best ways I could describe this story. Set primarily in the early 1930's in China, the narrator is a young Chinese woman who has recently died. She is stuck in limbo and needs to make amends for her sins in order to proceed to her afterlife. Her companions are her three souls - Yin, Yang, and Hun, each with their own distinct personality and opinions. Together they review her life and decisions that she made, an
Read my full review:

My opinion: To call this book amazing is not giving it enough credit. There was just something just hauntingly beautiful, on so many levels, about this book.

The author wrote characters and a setting which were so strong that I felt like I was there. The storyline, which was set in the beginning of Communist China , gives an engrossing description of the status of women and their struggles for identity.

I started off with a egalley of this book, but ende
Leiyin has died. Her ghost, along with the manifestations of her three souls, watches her funeral and burial. Yet Leiyin does not seem able to go to her afterlife. Her souls tell her this is because of a sin she has committed, but doesn’t remember. So Leiyin’s memory turns back to when she was a 15 year old girl. It is 1928. Civil War rages in China. Leiyin, the youngest daughter of a wealthy, important businessman is spoiled and selfish. She has just read Anna Karenina. She has just met the rev ...more
First-time novelist Janie Chang deploys an intriguing literary treatment that is effective and engaging. Leiyin, the main character is dead and she’s watching her own funeral and the mourning of her six-year old daughter and husband from high above as she’s being buried. As the priests finish their chanting, she encounters three bright sparks and realizes that these are her three souls – the yin, the yang and the hun – who inform her that her ascendancy into the afterlife ready for reincarnation ...more
Despite being narrated by the ghost of a recently deceased young woman, I wouldn't call this a ghost story. It's a historical novel set during the political upheaval of revolutionary China in the 1920s-30s. Song Leiyin, the third daughter of a prominent family, watches her funeral as a ghost, unable to move on to the afterlife or to remember how she died. She is told by the manifestations of her three souls that she can't move on to the afterlife until she atones for the sins of her mortal life. ...more
This is a book not to be appreciated for its literary merit, but for its simple language and straight-forward storytelling and for the history and culture it conveys.

Knowing that the acceptance of ancestral ghosts is prevalent in traditional Chinese culture makes it easier to accept the premise of this story. Leiyin, a young woman who has died, must rectify her faults and the ruin she's caused. She is accompanied by three souls - yin, yang, and hun. The setting is China during the tumultuous 30
The sense of place in “Three Souls” is exquisite. It’s set in China in the late 20’s through the mid 30’s and it begins with 17 year old Leiyin’s ending her school years and becoming a young woman just as China is in turmoil between the Communists and the Nationalists and the Japanese are invading. It was a time of rapid change and old and new were in conflict. Leiyin is caught in the cusp of these changes and she has nontraditional views on what she’d like her future to be. She’s an upper class ...more
THREE SOULS by Janie Chang is a novel set in a particular time in Chinese history. It begins as the protagonist, of the tale, Song Leiyin, "awakens" to discover that she has died but that she has remained earthbound. As she observes the ceremony that is her funeral she is accompanied by three sparks that represent her three separate souls. How she died and why her spirit remains trapped in a transitional limbo is the basis of this tale.

Set during the 1920's and 30's Leiyin's journey of self disc
Narrated by a recently deceased young woman, this book kind of read like the Chinese The Lovely Bones crossed with A Christmas Carol and a dash of Freud slipped in. Leiyin can't progress through the afterlife until she atones for the sins of her mortal life, in which she was a spoiled, petulant teenager whose desire to push back against tradition in the late 1920s caused her to be cast out of her family and married off to a man from a tiny, rural town. Her three souls help her process the memori ...more
Farzana Doctor
Just finished Janie's Chang's exceptional novel. It's mischievous, original, full of history and a page-turner. This is a very talented author. I'm stoked that she'll be on the IFOA panel I'm moderating on November 3rd, 1pm at Harbourfront.
Noreen Zayna Barlas
This is a MUST read. Beautiful, eloquent, took me on an emotional ride. The premise was unique and the experience profound. This novel is one which I will add to my favorite reading list.
Leanne Shirtliffe
This is a beautiful, haunting book, one that stays with you long after you're done.
Jennifer D
3.5-stars, if we could.

historically and politically compelling, this is a very good debut novel. set during the 1920s and 30s in revolutionary china, chang weaves the threads of family life, domestic routines, and cultural traditions with political and military upheavals as the communist party evolved, challenging nationalist rule. power, position, connections and sons were important in securing a family's legacies and successes. this is very much a patriarchal world. women were just getting awa
I couldn't put this book down even for a second until I finished it, and even afterwards I went over it again. That's how good it is.

Three Souls is set in 1935 China, but flashes back to the 1920s when the main character, Song Leiyin, is an educated yet naive young woman from a wealthy and traditional family. Leiyin discovers that not only is she dead, but she can't remember what led to her death and subsequent retention in between life and afterlife. She's not alone. She also has her three soul
I so loved retracing the journey of Leiyin's short life from the perspective of her non-physical self. Actually, I should say selves rather than self because each of her 3 souls harbored a significantly different energy. These souls are parts of Leiyin yet distinct in their points of view while looking back over her life. This worked very well because the author didn't attempt to put boxes around right and wrong. Instead, she revealed multiple perspectives through the souls and Leiyin's own afte ...more
Amber Brown
Thanks to Goodreads for an advance copy!

Finally! It took a solid year, but I finally read a new book worthy of 5 stars!

Three Souls is the story of a young woman after she dies, as she waits to cross over to the other side with her three souls. Before Leiyin can cross over, however, they must review her life to see what she must atone for.
Set in mid-Civil war, pre-Mao China, the clash between Nationalists and Communists is growing stronger. Young Leiyin falls in love with a Communist poet &
Story Description:

Harper Collins|August 12, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44342-390-8

Leiyin has to make a choice: Should she save her only child or forever relinquish her own afterlife?

Civil war China is fractured by social and political change. Behind the magnificent gates of the Song family estate, however, none of this upheaval has touched Leiyin, a spoiled and idealistic teenager. But when Leiyin meets the captivating left-wing poet Hanchin, she defies her father and learns a harsh reali
Loved this book. The story is beautiful and the characters are beautifully drawn. It's wonderful to see the main character grow and mature through her experiences. The plot is also quite original since we know she dies at the very beginning of the book and rest of the story is told from her observing her own memories with her three souls after her death. Enough said before I ruin the detailed and rich plot.
This is one of those books that I wasn't sure I'd like, but wound up loving! I don't think I've ever read a book set in China before, so this was a totally new experience for me. Add in the 1930's setting, which I usually don't care for, and this one is totally outside my usual comfort zone! But the author made it an easy read and I was never confused about what was happening because she explained everything seamlessly, without getting in the way of the story. Very impressive!

We first meet Leiyi
Sherri Severson
I really enjoyed this book. It grabbed me right away and I became completely absorbed in it. One of those books that I will think about for a long time. Well written, believable characters and story line. It was a book that I wanted to know how it would end yet I didn't want the book itself to end. I highly recommend reading it!
Bradley Somer
Janie Chang has written the most compelling book I've read in the past year. The setting and descriptions are so powerful, this is a truly immersive read. Tie this with intriguing characters and wonderfully twisting plot lines and you have a book that will keep you up late into the night.
I really enjoyed this book and find it comforting to think that we may have the opportunity to atone for our wrongdoings in our life before passing on to another life. An interesting perspective by the character after death, shown through memory...
Wow. This book drew me in and kept me spellbound. This story takes place in China during the 1920 - 1930's. It's a time of a lot of changes, politically and culturally. Leiyin's story touched me deeply. Highly recommended.
Compelling story and unlike any book I have read. Can not think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this historical, romantic, political and supernatural fantasy.....loved the characters ...this book will stay with me for a long time.
Mary Stanik
Painful, joyful, outstanding. Read this book!
very good read couldn't put it down
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Janie Chang grew up listening to family stories about ancestors, ghosts, and dragons. Her first novel THREE SOULS is available from HarperCollins Canada, William Morrow (USA) and Fabbri (Rizzoli) in Italian.
More about Janie Chang...

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“That’s the trouble when you’re young, my hun soul says. You think you have all the time in the world. You think the world will wait until you’re ready.” 5 likes
“a woman’s true value is measured by the size of her dowry.” 0 likes
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