Night of Many Dreams
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Night of Many Dreams

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,475 ratings  ·  122 reviews
As World War II threatens their comfortable life in Hong Kong, young Joan and Emma Lew escape with their family to spend the war years in Macao. When they return home, Emma develops a deep interest in travel and sets her sights on an artistic life in San Francisco, while Joan turns to movies and thoughts of romance to escape the pressures of her real life. As the girls bec...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published December 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1998)
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Night of Many Dreams was a little slow at first but the historical setting of Hong Kong in the early 1940′s kept me reading and I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed it. Constant shifts in point of view by an omniscient narrator, sometimes even jumping a bit back in time from the last character’s perspective, might be challenging for some. I didn’t find it disruptive, just different from your traditional linear story. Night of Many Dreams probably wouldn’t hold a lot of appeal to anyone looking for a...more
I'm usually a fan of Gail Tsukiyama's writing, but this was rather disappointing. From the various perspectives to the weird chronology and multiple flashbacks, I simply could not get into it. Because the story took place over such a long period of time, it felt rushed. It got more interesting towards the end, but this book was definitely hard to get through. It took me a long time to finish because I kept stopping putting it down, which hardly ever happens, so it was pretty bad.
This story follows a family; two sisters, their mother, their aunt and their cook through 25 years of their lives. A tale of love, losses and change.

I fell in ... admiration... of Gail Tsukiyama's books when I first read Women of the Silk. From there I picked up a book here and there; usually when I noticed them on the shelves at the bookstore or at Costco. I never went out of my way to hunt them down.

Her books are not rip-roaring thrillers or slash 'em up horrors or even remotely fantasy relate...more
My friend Marjorie just LOVES Gail Tsukiyama, so she chose this book for book club. I liked it. The characters are growing up in WWII China (and each chapter flips between 3 main characters: 2 sisters and their single aunt) and the focus is the relationships between the sisters, their mother (whose sole goal is to get them married off) and their aunt, who owns her own knitting factory. The writing is light and lovely, but I wasn't that connected to the seemed like they didn't hav...more
Tam G
And I picked up Gail Tsukiyama's Night of Many Dreams somewhere in the last month or two. I enjoyed three of her other novels and it is a light read in the vein of Lisa See's books. This one follows two sisters in Hong Kong growing up during and after WWII. I enjoyed the place portrayals of Hong Kong, Macao, San Francisco. It was an easy, upbeat read which felt realistic enough to the time period and culture and did not devolve into major plot drama. The story was more interested in the two sist...more
I am just on a roll here reading all the books on themes that I love. Here is another exploration of the relationship that binds families - set again in Hong Kong juxtaposed with North America. The book was finished in a day - the author's style is easy to read, very clear and uncomplicated. Perhaps the story lacked stronger emotion and could have been a little more detailed. However, I felt that it accomplished its goals and it clearly gave us insight into this the lives of Joan and Emma. It di...more
Night of Many Dreams has an interesting plot and interesting characters. However, the writing style was too superficial. You were not emotionally involved with the characters because Tsukiyama never reveals the inner feelings of those characters. As I read the novel, I felt as if I were watching the characters from afar, rather than viewing the world around them from their eyes. I also didn't get the real sense of the surroundings when I read Tsukiyama's descriptions. As I said earlier, the plot...more
This book was disappointing for me. Altho dealing with an interesting subject, the author only gave me a dispassionate telling of pretty regular lives. I didn't feel close to any of the characters, and life-changing events just came and went w/very little passion or discussion. I probably won't remember this tale for very long. It's a shame, because I really liked "Women of the Silk."
Mandy Gilbert
This novel followed the lives of two Japanese sisters growing up in Hong Kong during WWII. There really was no plot to this book, it was more of a life story. We follow the lead characters from the time they are young girls until they are adults leading lives of their own.
I enjoyed the differing perspectives and the background descriptions. I love being taken back in time, and the author delivers, painting vivid images of Hong Kong, Macau and San Francisco from days gone by. In fact, since read...more
Solid storytelling and an interesting look into wartime and post- WW2 Hong Kong. I think I 've just read too many stories set in Hong Kong and this one didn't sing for me.
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Nine-year old Emma and her sister, fourteen-year old Joan, live a pretty luxurious life in Hong Kong, until war intrudes. With Japan invading Hong Kong and snatching it away from Britain, Emma and her family move to the Portuguese colony Macao, where Emma meets her best friend, and Joan tries to drown herself in cooking to escape from a morale-shattering incident that happened just before they left. After the war, however, their mom sends Joan out on countless dates so that Joan can get married...more
This book made me think about the bond family has. In this book, Emma and Joan have a very special bond. Emma always looks up to Joan because of her bravery and courage. Joan loves Emma because of her kindness and honesty and friend making skills. They are very different things, but it works out in their relationship.

In our world sibling relationships usually DO NOT work out. In my family there are fights and screaming and meltdowns. But we all love each other. Like batteries, opposites attract...more
Sally Atwell Williams
I liked this book. It was easy reading and light, which I needed. The characters are two sisters born in Hong Kong, and their family. The chapters are each written in the point of view of Emma, the younger sister; Joan, the older sister; and Auntie Go, their aunt. It is a story of family, growing up, and achieving goals. It is also about growing up, bucking traditions they were raised with, and finding their own way.
This book is eerily similar to Shanghai Girls. I don’t think it was on purpose at all. But the similarities are there: focused on two sisters, growing up in pre-WWII China (Hong Kong in this case, Shanghai of course in the other), the older sister the more beautiful one who becomes an actress, and some of the action takes place in the US. Shanghai Girls, though, was focused on the angst. And it was truly impossible for any male to be an actual love interest. In this one, the girls get to be happ...more
Tsukiyama turns out another novel in which you can taste, sense and feel the world she creates!

"Two sisters...separate family that binds them together forever.

Emma and Joan are the two daughters of the Lew family, coming of age during and after the turbulent years of World War II. Beautiful elder sister Joan hopes for a traditional family life, but through a series of troubled relationships begins a career as a Chinese film actress. Emma, inspired by the independence of her Aunt Go,...more
Night of Many Dreams is told from three different points of view – Joan, Emma, and Auntie Go – over a period of more than twenty years. At the start of the novel, World War II is underway and no one living in Hong Kong believes that Japan will invade the British colony. When the war progresses, we see how it affects 11 year old Emma and her older sister Joan.

Over the years, the family changes as the daughters grow and take paths that differ from what their mother expected. It’s not an action pac...more
This was a good book. It was easy reading and enjoyable. I liked the historical background. It takes place in China during the world war II era. It tells how the war affected the family.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Lew narrates this story of herself and her older sister Joan, growing up in Macao and Hong Kong during and after World War II. Joan’s parents try to find her a suitable husband, but Joan is afraid of love and marriage and runs off to a convent for a while, before she becomes a famous film star in Chinese movies, while Emma moves to San Francisco to attend college and work there. The characters are well drawn -- Auntie Go, who runs a business of her own, and the cook/servant Foon, are partic...more
Mar 12, 2009 Marjorie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Caroline, Lindsay, Meredith
I love Tsukiyama's writing style and character development. This novel was different than her others in that each character narrated a chapter in the book, so you got to really know the characters' thoughts and others perspectives of them through.
I also loved the description on Foon's cooking. It made me hungry!This novel took place from 1940-1965 and dealt with women's independence vs. societies pressure of getting married. I saw many connections to the pressures of today with women being more...more
Feb 22, 2009 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: wwii, asian
I really like this author. When I find an author I enjoy, I'm loyal. This book follows a family in Hong Kong before and after WWII. The story centers around the two sisters and their aunt and how they each make their way in life. They follow their dreams, even though they aren't traditional, and this causes conflict with the mother/sister. So interesting to watch the story develop. That's one of the things I like about Tsukiyama. You watch the story open up and grow and really come to know the c...more
Excellent story of two strong Chinese women and their experiences in Chinese culture.
Somewhat strong female characters--Aunt Go who doesn't marry but goes into business, the two daughters Joan and Emma, and Mah Mee. Joan is the oldest and most beautiful--she reads movie magazines and seems happiest at the movies. She feels physically ill at times and then better when she becomes more comfortable with herself. Emma always knows what she wants, and goes to America to get it. As in almost every story of China, tho this is set in Hong Kong, there is no happy ending--you can feel it...more
it was a bit slow at first but then i started to like it in the middle-end part of the story. especially when things were getting good, the novel ended. //sighs// i like historical fiction but there was something in the writing that was dragging so i wasn't able to finish this book fast.
Yvonne Greenlee
Charming pleasant peroid and cultural piece
I was disappointed in the novel. Not as rich as her other novels in subject or characters. I found the sisters to be flat and unmemorable. I think if she had written a book about the girls' mother and their Aunt Go it would have been a more interesting.
Liz Neale
Night of Many Dreams is a story about two sisters coming to age just before the second World War.
It was a very good story about growing up in Hong Kong. A mother who played mah-jongg daily and
decided to be a matchmaker for her daughter. Auntie Go who owned her a Knitting Factory and her
Ba Ba who had an import/export business in Japan and Hong Kong. The story revolves around the family as each one help raise the girls to be successful, beautiful women.
I'm not sure Ms. Tsukiyama wrote this book. So disappointed all way thru, nothing like her extraordinary and memorial books as Women of the Silk and Language of the Thread. The plot and characters had a lot of potential here but the author falls short in creating any connection between the reader and the characters. I found it as interesting as The Big Red Book...see Spot Run, See Emma go to School..See Joan go to work...pass on this one friends!
I've read a couple of Gail Tsukiyama's novels. They all have a backdrop of national and world crisis, women (sisters, cousins, etc.) finding their way through adversity and ending with comfort and safety found in family bonds.

That is not to say they are entirely formulaic...there are still plots to unravel, real historical events to be better understood and all against a backdrop that the reader can see, taste and feel.

A really enjoyable book by an author whose other books (Women of the Silk, Samurai's Daughter) I have found very engaging. This was a quick read that told the story of family relationships and all their complexities. It is interesting to read these stories that are set in China giving the reader an historical perspective of women in China and the cultural and gender parameters that determine their place in society.
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Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail Tsukiyama now lives in El Cerrito, California. Her novels include Women of the Silk (1991), The Samurai's Garden (1995), Night of Many Dreams (1998), The Language of Threads (1999), Dreaming Water (2002), and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (2007).
More about Gail Tsukiyama...
The Samurai's Garden Women of the Silk The Street of a Thousand Blossoms The Language of Threads A Hundred Flowers

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