The Ghost Bride
Rate it:
1%
Flag icon
Chapter 1
Yangsze Choo
Thank you so much for reading THE GHOST BRIDE! I am so grateful to the wonderful Goodreads community who have read, shared, and reviewed this book. In response to the most highlighted passages in the book, I've written some personal notes and behind-the-scenes anecdotes—I hope you enjoy them!
Dustin
Dustin
Ooh, I haven't read this, either, but it sounds fantastic! I love supernatural stories. Thank you so much for sharing, Yangsze!
Erin_Elizabeth_I
Erin_Elizabeth_I
I loved this book! And The Night Tiger!
Penny Powers
Penny Powers
This is a wonderful book. You can't put it down and you hunger for the next page!!
2%
Flag icon
This practice of arranging the marriage of a dead person was uncommon, usually held in order to placate a spirit. A deceased concubine who had produced a son might be officially married to elevate her status to a wife. Or two lovers who died tragically might be united after death. That much I knew. But to marry the living to the dead was a rare and, indeed, dreadful occurrence.
Yangsze Choo
Growing up, I once read a local newspaper story about the occurrence of such a marriage. This was so bizarre that I thought about it for a long time afterwards. Who decided to participate in such a ritual? And what did it mean to them; what sort of lives did they lead? Later, I heard more stories about ghost marriage. Usually, the dead married the dead (one of my Singaporean friends told me that his uncle had been married to another ghost in a proper ceremony, with all the food, costumes, and trappings), but more rarely, the living married the dead. I’d been working on a different novel for eight years prior to writing The Ghost Bride (I’m a very slow writer), and one day, I was reminded of this strange practice of marrying dead people. I sat down and wrote the first chapter of this novel, very much as you see it right now. I imagined a scene: a girl sitting in the darkness by a flickering oil lamp, saying to you, “Last night, my father asked me if I’d like to become a ghost bride...” That's how this book started, and once that scene was written, the story began to unfold by itself. Who was this girl, and what kind of family would arrange such a relationship? I tend to write in an organic way, without an outline or plan. It's a bit like riding a bicycle on a dark and windy road, with only your headlamp to show you a little bit of the way ahead. Sometimes a sharp turn will come up, which is a surprise to me as well.
Kathy Chung
Kathy Chung
Yea I heard of ghost marriage from my mom. In the old days people have many kids. My granny had 13 and not all survived. Am not very sure but I seem yo real she said that one of my uncle who pass away…
Stacey
Stacey
Great story, I recommended it to others when I worked for the library. Can't wait to read more of your work
Wendi Wanders
Wendi Wanders
I first heard of ghost brides on a Korean drama.
3%
Flag icon
Women had little security other than jewelry, so even the poorest among us sported gold chains, earrings, and rings as their insurance.
Yangsze Choo
This was absolutely true for women in the past, and still is today in many parts of the world. Jewelry was a form of insurance for women, who were often unable to own or inherit property; in fact, an older lady once told me that “you should always try to get 24 karat gold jewelry, not 18K, as you can pawn it more readily.” Jewelry could be taken with a woman when she got married as part of her dowry, and it was considered personal property in a way that other things were not. In times of war, famine, or need, many women sold their jewelry, or hid it by sewing it in their clothes. I think we forget nowadays that there was a time when a woman couldn’t even open a bank account without her husband or father’s permission. In your own family’s history, you might also have stories of certain pieces of jewelry which were used to as redemption, guarantees, or a means of escape from difficult situations.
Fanny and 93 other people liked this
Jennifer
Jennifer
I never knew that about jewelry being considered personal property. That is so interesting!
Michal Strutin
Michal Strutin
In the ancient and not so ancient world, women wore their wealth.
Wendi Wanders
Wendi Wanders
My family has a story about the husband in the American revolutionary war being hanged as a traitor. On his way to the gallows he supposedly passed his silver shoe buckles to his wife to help her with…
7%
Flag icon
The Chinese considered the moon to be yin, feminine and full of negative energy, as opposed to the sun that was yang and exemplified masculinity. I liked the moon, with its soft silver beams. It was at once elusive and filled with trickery, so that lost objects that had rolled into the crevices of a room were rarely found, and books read in its light seemed to contain all sorts of fanciful stories that were never there the next morning.
Yangsze Choo
When I was a child, I particularly liked moonlit nights. You have to be quite far away from the city to avoid the glare from city lights, but when we visited my grandparents, who lived on the outskirts of a small town in Perak, you could quite often see the moonlight washing like clear water over the landscape. I remember getting up at night for a drink of water and peeking out of the slatted glass louvered windows, through the mosquito netting. Everything would be bathed in a pale silvery glow, sometimes bright enough that you could even read by it. Things looked different in the moonlight. The road in front of my grandparents' house, and the vegetable fields beyond took on a mysterious allure, as though enticing you to get up and run away down some faint twisting road into a strange land. I never quite had the courage to that, but I often thought about it!
Christine
Christine
I loved this passage!
Kathy Chung
Kathy Chung
When i was a kid I dare not point to the moon as mom said the crescent moon would cut my ears if I point at it. When a bit older, I read the story of Chang Er... during mooncake festival I would try t…
Mark
Mark
I think the sun and moon are equally yin and yang. don't know how someone could make one Yin and one Yang. seems unfair actually. Who gave the power to that person to make that distinction? Who made t…
11%
Flag icon
He would often quote Confucius, who had said it was better not to know about ghosts and gods, but rather to focus on the world we lived in.
Yangsze Choo
Actually, my mother (who is Chinese-educated) used to quote this particular bit of Confucius to me, though unlike Li Lan’s fictional father, my mum is highly practical. While I was writing this novel, as well as my second book, The Night Tiger, I would often hear her voice in my head, reminding me of this and that. It’s funny how we internalize all the advice and little bits of wisdom we get along the way. I still iron clothes the way my mum taught me, and I now drink a large glass of warm water first thing in the morning. When I think about it, a lot of “living in this world” consists of small, mundane, care-taking actions which add up to love.
Bernice Rocque
Bernice Rocque
So true. My mother (and father) loved the many adages spoken in their time. "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched" was one of many we heard growing up. Also, my mom often said, "are you p…
Monica
Monica
I agree with your last statement here, ""living in this world" consists of small, mundane, care-taking actions...". Growing up oh, how complained hearing or "enduring" my Mom's(what I thought were) pl…
Gayle
Gayle
Don't be mean. Very simple but deep universal meaning.
13%
Flag icon
We Chinese did not like to give or receive certain gifts for superstitious reasons: knives, because they could sever a relationship; handkerchiefs, for they portended weeping; and clocks, as they were thought to measure out the days of your life. If any of these were presented, the recipient usually paid a token amount to symbolize that it was a purchase and not a gift.
Yangsze Choo
In a Chinese family, these are all traditionally no-nos! I remember receiving a watch from my parents and being told to give them back ten cents as a small token that it wasn’t a gift. My dad has been buying kitchen knives for me for years and each time we do the same thing—I give him five to ten cents to say it isn’t a gift, and thus won’t sever our relationship. Superstition, I know, but somehow it’s become a habit over the years. These are old traditions that are beginning to die out, and many younger people don’t know about them (this also proves that I myself am far gone into “auntie-hood”).
Kathy Chung
Kathy Chung
That's why your book is very important. It incorporated all these long ago traditions. Hopefully younger generation will read and remember them
Dustin
Dustin
Such fascinating stuff!😀
Penny Powers
Penny Powers
Very interesting. Love to learn this new nugget about another culture.
21%
Flag icon
It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures, we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.
Yangsze Choo
One thing that always struck me in multi-ethnic Malaysia was how quickly and easily ghost stories spread. For example, an Indian friend of mine at school warned us all to stay away from banana trees at night, since women with long black hair and backward-pointing feet were said to appear. As a result, we all became terrified of going through banana groves at twilight, lest we meet any of these frightening ladies. I was also told not to play and put the lovely fragrant white flowers of frangi-pani (plumeria) in my hair as it was 1) a tree often planted in Malay graveyards, and 2) white, which is the Chinese colour of mourning. Years later I visited Hawaii and was very surprised to see people wearing wreaths of these flowers on their heads, where it has a totally different meaning!
Lisa and 68 other people liked this
Kathy Chung
Kathy Chung
Lol...same here . And also if suddenly smell something fragrant at night, do not comment on it or else the ahem ahem will follow us home
Penny Powers
Penny Powers
Oh my! I bet seeing the flowers in Hawaii being part of happiness and adornment was very confusing.
Rszee
Rszee
I was told If u tie a red string around the banana tree n pull it into the house the banana spirit will follow u.... but why would people want to do that, i wondered.. that pretty much messed me up ab…
31%
Flag icon
“If I had known how easy it is to lose your life, I would have treasured mine better.”
Yangsze Choo
This was really brought home to me more recently with the sudden sad passing of a couple of friends. We live in a time with modern medicine and healthcare, and often forget how easy it is to die from something as simple as a broken leg, tooth infection, or blood poisoning. Our society is fascinated by youth, health, and wealth. Yet at the same time, we are still frail mortal creatures.
Lori Spielman
Lori Spielman
Wonderful advice. I love all the little lessons in your books.
52%
Flag icon
The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them.
Yangsze Choo
I think this is true of the living as well. But when you are dead, perhaps there are fewer people able to hear your story. When I was writing this part of the book, I tried to imagine what it might be like to continue on in an afterlife where you had moved off the main stage where the living were. Would you be full of regrets? What kind of existence would that be? Perhaps after all, what’s most important to us is to connect with other people.
Sue and 52 other people liked this
Kathy Chung
Kathy Chung
Maybe that's why now we have paper handset, paper Telco, paper iPad and others electronics gadgets as burn offering during QingMing.

When my grand uncle passaway, my grand aunt had a dream. She dreamt…
Dustin
Dustin
Wow! This quote is so powerful and deep.😀
Gayle
Gayle
"The problem with the dead was that they all wanted someone to listen to them." This can also apply to aging people in the US. We become invisible to others.
96%
Flag icon
was strange to think that power in this world belonged to old men and young women.
Yangsze Choo
This is definitely something that has occurred to me as I get older. Women traditionally have held their highest value when they are young enough to bear children, while men to continue to accumulate power and money over the years. The problem is that when women are young and inexperienced (and historically, marriageable in their teens or even late childhood) they usually have little idea of their true value, or of what options they might have.
Chloe and 72 other people liked this
Thais Rocha
Thais Rocha
True and very sad.
Eliz
Eliz
Very true in traditional society.
I am so glad we can change this; older women have valuable skills, and can produce many valuable services, products and works of art in modern countries like the USA
Gayle
Gayle
"Women traditionally have held their highest value when they are young...they usually have little idea of their true value, or of what options they might have." My parents instilled in me the idea tha…
97%
Flag icon
This note or highlight contains a spoiler
And that I want to be his bride.
Yangsze Choo
The last line of this novel came to me when I had almost reached the end of the novel. I tend to write with no outline, and just a hazy idea of what might possibly come up next. When things work out, it’s a nice surprise for me as well! So I was very pleased when I suddenly realized what might happen to Li Lan at the end of the book, and how the last line might read. Writing is a solitary profession, but I do vaguely remember standing in line that morning at Trader Joe's (one of my usual haunts) with a big dopey smile. As a matter of fact, I think it was also while I was pushing a shopping cart in Trader Joe's on another day, that my agent texted to tell me that Netflix was interested in optioning The Ghost Bride as an Original series. I was so thrilled that I almost ran my cart into a large display of bananas. The good news is that the Netflix series will be out in 2020 with a cast of wonderful Taiwanese/Malaysian actors. I'm very excited to see it, as it sounds like the story will be slightly different from the novel! Thank you so much for reading The Ghost Bride. When I started this novel, I had no idea that it would ever be published, or that anyone would want to read a story about an obscure Chinese cultural practice in SE Asia. By the way, you might be interested to know that there were actually two endings for this book. The original ending was what I considered to be historically accurate, but rather dark… This ending is the second one that I came up with. If you liked The Ghost Bride, you might also enjoy my second novel, The Night Tiger. Also set in colonial Malaysia, but in the 1930s (when they had electricity and running water), The Night Tiger is one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks, Amazon’s Best Book of the Month, and one of USAToday, Audible, and Bookbub’s best books of the year so far. Thank you again, and I wish you all the best and many more hours of happy reading to come!
Leslie and 72 other people liked this
Pinar
Pinar
Thank you for taking us around your book. I read it when it first came out and loved it! Very happy about the Netflix series, will be looking forward to it.
Penny Powers
Penny Powers
Thank you for sharing so much with us readers. I love your book the Ghost Bride and can't wait to read The Night Tiger. You are a wonderful writer, please continue!
Frances Pearson
Frances Pearson
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it when it first came out and will probably read it again before it appears on Netflix. But before that I will read Night Tiger. I have just got it in the post and…