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The Kitchen God's Wife

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  62,201 Ratings  ·  1,752 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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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…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)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Willow
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: douglas
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
...more
Julia
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bloodorange
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jennifer Cole
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
Debra
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Hollie
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
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.
Julie
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite of Amy Tan's books. I loved it!
Anna H
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
Claudia
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me ha parecido un libro precioso y aunque no he podido leerlo con la rapidez con que me habría gustado, creo que el hecho de haberlo ido saboreando de a pocos, en momentos en que me ha resultado de compañía en situaciones difíciles, le da un valor muy especial y sin duda lo recordaré siempre con cariño por un montón de motivos, no solo literarios. La habilidad de la autora para narrar una historia tan dura y compleja como la de Winnie, sin solazarse en las penas, sino resaltando la fortaleza de ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
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?
 Olivermagnus
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
...more
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
...more
Tracy
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
...more
Kasia
Jun 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joyce
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Shari Larsen
Pearl Brandt's relationship with her mother is a difficult one; she deplores her mother Winnie's petty criticisms, her bossiness, her superstitious rituals to ward off bad luck, and her negative outlook, so naturally, she is reluctant to tell her mother about her diagnosis of MS. But when her Aunt Helen believes she is dying from a brain tumor, she insists that Pearl tell her mother the truth about her illness, and Helen also pressures Winnie into telling her daughter the truth about her past.


Th
...more
Mehrsa
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Florence
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Biondy
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pearl menyimpan rahasia dari ibunya. Tidak ingin membuat ibunya khawatir, Pearl tidak memberi tahu kalau dia mengidap suatu penyakit. Winnie, ibu Pearl, juga menyimpan suatu rahasia dari anaknya itu. Sebuah cerita yang dia simpan selama puluhan tahun. Kini rahasia keduanya terancam terbongkar oleh Helen, saudara ipar Winnie, yang yakin kalau dia akan segera mati dan tidak ingin menyimpan rahasia apa-apa lagi. Akhirnya, Winnie memutuskan untuk memberitahukan segalanya, perjalanan panjang yang dia ...more
Cynda
When wars come and unlikely friends meet sometimes those bonds last a lifetime. Best friends, not the type sought by young women with First World Problems. The type that know most of each others' secrets. The secrets unknown, kept from the other friend, make life complicated. And a daughter to the picture so that 2 generations of women who grew up in different continents. The women of the older generation tell the young woman born in another continent what it was like in the old country, sort of ...more
Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~
DNF @ 41%

The writing is still well-crafted and masterful, but I just couldn't get into the plot at this time. It feels like a forgotten story from the Joy Luck Club, only without the same level of interaction with the younger generation that provided a counterpoint to the direness of the mothers' tales. I feel terrible for not being able to finish this because I do usually enjoy Tan's characters.
alexandra
4.5/5 ☆ THE KITCHEN GOD'S WIFE is overwhelming, beautiful, and will always have a special place in my heart.

trigger warning: this book contains an abusive relationship and rape.

i started this novel not knowing what to expect. but right off the bat, i knew this book would be unforgettable. the story is told in alternating POVs. it starts with Pearl, speaking of her situations now, and moves onto Winnie, Pearl's mom, telling her daughter of what happened in the past. most of the story follows Winn
...more
Anthony Padua
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ishita
(Actual rating 3.5/5)

Most of the immigrant stories I have read are about second-generation American desis, so I loved reading all the intrinsic cultural details of first/second gen Chinese Americans in the Kitchen God's Wife - both similarities and differences.

A lot of immigrant stories feature and emphasize on the disconnect of the second-gen with their cultural heritage and the consequent tussle with their parents. This book pretty much ticks all the cliche boxes with Pearl not identifying mu
...more
Lynn
Full review: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/201.... 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
Joyce
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sera
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Night of Many Dreams
  • Spring Moon: A Novel of China
  • Amy Tan's the Joy Luck Club (critical essays)
  • Wild Ginger
  • Pavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's Quarters
  • A Cup of Light
  • Inheritance
  • The Vagrants
  • Peony in Love
  • The Red Chamber
  • China Men
  • The Chinese in America: A Narrative History
  • The Favorites
  • A Free Life
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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...

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“Chance is the first step you take, luck is what comes afterward.” 1815 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.” 122 likes
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