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The Kitchen God's Wife

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  78,903 ratings  ·  2,220 reviews
Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now, because she believes she is dying, Helen wants to expose everything. And Winnie angrily determines that she must be the one to tell her daughter, Pearl, about the past—including the terrible truth even Helen does not know. And so begins Winnie's story of her life on a small island outside ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 21st 2006 by Penguin Group (first published 1991)
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Yun Choi I believe that Amy Tan represents her mom, Winny, as a Kitchen God's wife. In the story, Winny tells her daughter about Kitchen God. The Kitchen God i…moreI believe that Amy Tan represents her mom, Winny, as a Kitchen God's wife. In the story, Winny tells her daughter about Kitchen God. The Kitchen God is no better than human. It actually worse. You don't even want to call as a God. But he is a still God. Winny married a crazy bad man in her first marriage. It seems represents that crazy man as a God and Kitchen wife is Winny herself. (less)

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Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
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
Elyse  Walters
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it came out -- I thought I had written a review --no?

It's holding -(all these years later) -a lasting wonderful reading impression. The culture -the relationships: struggles and love -the foods - it was all delicious.
Debbie Zapata
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturdaymx
Secrets. Mothers and daughters nearly always keep secrets from each other. But at some point in life the secrets need to be told....don't they? Winnie, Pearl's mother, faces this dilemma. Winnie's dearest friend Helen is threatening to tell Pearl all of the secrets of Winnie's early years in China. So Winnie decides to tell Pearl her life story before Helen does. Because of course Helen would not tell it correctly anyway.

But Pearl has a secret of her own. Will hearing her mother's secrets give h
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer Cole
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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."
Mariah Roze
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book for the Goodreads' Book Club: Diversity in All Forms! If you'd like to join the discussion here is the link:

This book is an extremely short read. I read it in less than 24 hours while working and going to school. The story takes a huge turn when Winnie shares what her life was like in China. This is a sad, but eye-opening story that is definitely realistic fiction!

"Winnie and Helen have kept each other's worst secrets for more than fifty
Anna Luce
/ / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

For a book published in the 90s The Kitchen God's Wife comes across as strangely outdated. And I guess in spite of Tan's writing—which is far from mediocre or incompetent—I could not look past the fact that her story was the antithesis of female solidarity.

At first I was taken by Tan's storytelling. The first 40 pages or so, those that take place in the 'present', were enjoyable. We learn that Pearl, a woman in her thirties, has always had a difficult rela
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: us, library
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
Ivana Books Are Magic
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Kitchen God's Wife was my second novel by Amy Tan. As it often the case with Tan, this novel focuses on the dynamics of an American Chinese family, more precisely on the relationship between a mother and a daughter. There are other characters, but there is no doubt that the mother and the daughter are the protagonists of this novel. Pear and Winnie are not only the sole narrators, they are what this novel is about. The Kitchen God’s Wife opens with the daughter’s narration. Pearl has been bo ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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
Had to catch my breath....I just love Amy Tan, and I wanted to give this modern classic five stars because she's certainly worth it as a writer. But I kept hoping and worrying about our main character, Winnie! How many times can one person get f--ed over in a lifetime? Before they're even 30?! I know, I know -- World War II, the Chinese, the Chinese, the Chinese, spousal abuse, the Chinese, the Chinese, the Chinese..... I get it......but I had to suspend my disbelief a bit at the end in a plot i ...more
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book begins with Pearl planning on attending a wedding but then also learns there is a funeral. As most of Tans books, this book deals with family history, relationships, some cultural history of China, the life of women in China and assimilation to the United States.

Winnie and her friend Helen have a kept a secret for most of their lives, Winnie's daughter Pearl also has a secret she has been keeping from her Mother. Helen steps in, claims she is dying (is she?) and tells each Winnie and Pe
Carolyn F.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago (okay decades). As with the other books I've read by this author, a lot of untold sorrows with a sort of redemption at the end. Good book. ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Meghan Becker
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is probably in my top 5. So good.
Full review: I never cease to be amazed at the treatment and plight of women throughout history. I'm certain I wouldn't have lived long, 'cause, honestly, my goal would have been to make sure I took out at least a couple of the meanest men with me! Unbelievable to me and so very very sad. How can dismissing half the human race be justified? I assume Tan is accurate in her portrayal of females in China during the early to almost mid-20th Century. And if s ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love this book. Winnie is so brave. She was stuck with an evil, horrible husband. She went through WW2. Her daughter didn't know all of this about her so she tells her all that she went through. It's a great book about revealing secrets and her daughter learns to admire her mother's strength and find the same in herself.

Also, why do so many folks have to marry horrible, awful people?
Ying-gai = I should have.
To me, king-gai meant my mother lived a life of regrets that never faded with time.

Chance is the first step you take, luck is what comes afterward.

I don't know why something that made me so happy then feels so sad now. Maybe that is the way it is with the best memories.

Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite of Amy Tan's books. I loved it! ...more
When we meet Winnie Louie, she seems like a traditional Chinese wife, ruling her family with a combination of love and superstition. Now widowed, she still misses her husband, Jimmie Louie, and worries excessively about her two grown children. Winnie has secrets she has kept hidden since her youth in China, secrets she wants to tell Pearl but is afraid to.

Pearl Louie, now in her 40s, has secrets too. She has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and knows that her mother will wonder what
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
The bulk of this story takes place in war time in China. With that being said, I liked how this was NOT a story or retelling of that historical fact. It truly was a story of a woman who was torn oftentimes between traditonal China and wanting a better life. Her life had so much tragedy I was sad to read some of it. But it was all told for an important purpose and not just to be told for the story's sake. Amy Tan's characters are always so well developed as well as her descriptions of what is all ...more
Sharon Huether
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Secrets, secrets, and more secrets. This story has plenty of them.
There was old Aunt and New Aunt and a host of relatives all brought their story secrets to life.

Growing up and living in China during and after World War II they had many difficulties.
Winnie a beautiful, strong willed woman has an unforgettable voice in the story. It's her life, her mother's life and then her daughter life too in America.

A joy to read.
Jun 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Kitchen God is recognized in traditional Chinese culture. His wife is ignored. She does all the chores, suffers all life's hardships, and is never recognized as a deity. The mother-daughter relationship between Chinese-Americans, Pearl and Winnie, is a bit strained. They are from different generations. The Americanized younger generation does not adhere to the subtle rules of social interactions. They don't communicate well with the family's elders. Secrets from from the past remain deeply b ...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
"It's not you it's me" is what I feel like saying to this book!

It hit a couple of tender spots for me at the start because of my own mother/daughter relationship. I put aside for a while because I found the switch in POV to the mother a bit hard to handle. It was rhetorical whining really & the story was uniformly depressing. I had to keep taking breaks & read something else.

I'm unlikely to read anything else by this author.
Mary Blye Kramer
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was so caught up in the main character of this book that I often forgot I was reading fiction. Wonderful story, beautifully written. It will certainly make you realize how little we know about our mothers’ hearts and lives as human beings.
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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

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