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Night of Many Dreams

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,926 Ratings  ·  153 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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Oct 07, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
Jan 17, 2015 Veronica rated it it was ok
Shelves: alternating-pov
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.
Feb 28, 2016 ☮Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii, read-in-2016
2.5 stars. This was likeable enough. A little too light and simplistic for my tastes. I did like the alternating stories, the idea of the two sisters growing up in Hong Kong from the 1940s to 1960s, trying to find their own ways while still respecting their mother's traditionalism.

This is my fifth book by Tsukiyama, and definitely not my favorite.
Mar 26, 2015 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I love Gail Tsukiyama and have read 3 other books of hers; The Samurai's Garden being one of my all-time favorite books. Night of Many Dreams fell short of my expectations of her writing and yet I did enjoy the read. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could.

The first half of the book moved well with the tale of a family in Hong Kong during WWII and the Japanese occupation. Gail has a way of making you see into the thoughts of her characters and be a part of their lives for a while. As time progresse
Jan 08, 2009 Shelly rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2009, own
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
Mar 15, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Jan 11, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
I loved this story. Gail Tsukiyama remains one of my favorites! Not wanting to give any spoilers let me just say this is a story about a family who survive dynamic change in their country and grow on separate paths as individuals while remaining at their very core loving toward each other. While I'm doubtful this exists anymore in reality it's nice to still keep the dream alive
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
Oct 17, 2011 Camy rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 03, 2012 Judith rated it liked it
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
Sep 27, 2009 Barbara rated it it was ok
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
Jun 29, 2014 Mandy Gilbert rated it liked it
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
Dec 08, 2012 Kirsten rated it liked it
Shelves: new-fiction
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.
May 27, 2015 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in historical Chinese fiction
This is a pretty decent story that takes place mostly in Hong Kong from about 1940, when the Japanese were invading Hong Kong, to the mid-1960's. It's the story of a family with two daughters, Joan and Emma. The girls are not adults at the start of the book; Joan is probably a teen and Emma is the little sister. Neither daughter follows the path that is desired for them by their mother. She just wants them to get good husbands and settle down. Instead, Joan becomes an actress and earn acclaim in ...more
Jun 17, 2016 Patricia rated it it was ok
Not one of Tsukiyama stronger books. To me, there seemed to be a lot of flaws in this book. The story was just drab. The story progressed from childhood to adulthood for the two protagonist sisters, Joan and Emma Lew. They live in Hong Kong whereby the Lew's evacuate to Macao during WWII as the Japanese invade their homeland. Their father Ba-Ba stays behind. The mother. Kim Leng, auntie Go, and their cook Foon leave. They return after the war and slipped back into their life. Joan never finds lo ...more
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
Feb 19, 2010 Carly705 rated it it was amazing
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
Lovely family saga. I'm not as into Tsukiyama's writing nowadays as I was in high school -- it's a bit tell-y for my current tastes -- but it gets the job done and I still bond hard to her characters.

Some of the shower-of-detail that she uses about life in Hong Kong feels oddly exoticizing, in a way that I would have trouble with from a white author. I assume this is her trying to serve her American audience's tastes. It grated a bit, but I also have a hard time faulting the book for it.
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.
Maggie Mackin
Jan 22, 2016 Maggie Mackin rated it liked it
This book lacked depth. Started off strong with 4 female characters set in Hong Kong and Macao during WW II. But despite the rich opportunities of this time and place, the descriptions were flat and not fully mined. Ditto on the characters.

On the positive side, it was a fast read and I enjoyed the structure of chapters narrated by the different characters.
Jan 26, 2015 Vionna rated it liked it
The narrative in this book was very engaging. We followed the lives of Joan and Emma from their childhood in Macao and Hong Kong during the war years. The paths of the two sisters diverged when Emma went to University in the States while Joan became a famous Chinese actress. We learned of the sorrows and happy times within this close knit family.
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's books tend to be light reads because of the straightforward language, but they're also beautifully crafted and capture a lot of hard times in them. I really liked how this one changed point of view between the various women: it created a certain richness to the character development.
Jelly Washington
Jul 22, 2015 Jelly Washington rated it really liked it
If you enjoy Amy Tan, you will enjoy this author. She takes you and brings you into the culture and the yearning of the characters. A story of family and especially the sibling bond but also of individual strength through different the eyes if very different women.
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it it was amazing
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,
Jun 12, 2012 Kimberly rated it liked it
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
Mar 12, 2015 Tania rated it liked it
Recommended to Tania by: madybooks
I recognized a lot of details about Macau and Hong Kong, which made the book interesting. However, I felt it lacked a certain depth of emotion and that the story was told a bit superficially at times.
Jan 08, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it
The Lew family is followed as they flee from Hong Kong to Macao during the early 1940s. The characters are strong and entertaining enough, but I preferred Tsukiyama's more recent novel, A Hundred Flowers.
Jun 03, 2015 Shinay rated it it was ok
I love this author and loved her previous books but this one I coildn't stick with. The characters were not well defined and it was slow moving. I have moved on to the author's next book Dreaming Water.
Feb 22, 2014 Rochelle rated it really liked it
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.
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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).
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