Y’all know how much I enjoy historical fiction, and one that’s set in China? Bonus! (Ok, ok, so y’all also know how much I enjoy all sorts of genres, but that doesn’t lessen my anticipation for Janie Chang’s Three Souls…)
About Janie Chang:
Born in Taiwan, Janie Chang spent part of her childhood in the Philippines, Iran, and Thailand. She holds a degree in computer science and is a graduate of the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University. Three Souls is her first novel.
About Three Souls:
An absorbing novel of romance and revolution, loyalty and family, sacrifice and undying love
We have three souls, or so I’d been told. But only in death could I confirm this….
So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife. Beside her are three souls—stern and scholarly yang; impulsive, romantic yin; and wise, shining hun—who will guide her toward understanding. She must, they tell her, make amends.
As Leiyin delves back in time with the three souls to review her life, she sees the spoiled and privileged teenager she once was, a girl who is concerned with her own desires while China is fractured by civil war and social upheaval. At a party, she meets Hanchin, a captivating left-wing poet and translator, and instantly falls in love with him.
When Leiyin defies her father to pursue Hanchin, she learns the harsh truth—that she is powerless over her fate. Her punishment for disobedience leads to exile, an unwanted marriage, a pregnancy, and, ultimately, her death. And when she discovers what she must do to be released from limbo into the afterlife, Leiyin realizes that the time for making amends is shorter than she thought.
Suffused with history and literature, Three Souls is an epic tale of revenge and betrayal, forbidden love, and the price we are willing to pay for freedom.
I loved, loved, LOVED Janie Chang’s Three Souls! It is a beautifully-told, evocative story of a young woman who rebels against convention, is punished for it, finds happiness anyway, only to almost lose it all. Death, you say, is the end, so why do I say “almost”? Because if she doesn’t atone enough for her wrongdoings, she’ll also lose her chance at reincarnation.
Song Leiyin is the privileged youngest child in a family of some renown. She is intelligent and beautiful, and openly headstrong, which surprises me. She’s well-loved, and it shows in her confidence of success in the path she chooses – even if she knows it’s not the path she’s allowed to take.
There are so many layers to Chang’s story. Leiyin’s maturing, which takes years (oh, the benefits of hindsight!). The tempering of her ebullient spirit, the regrets of decisions made in haste. The loss of idealistic dreams, betrayal of loved ones, the resignation to life as you see it spanning the next decades – all of it woven into a fascinating tale of a young woman born into the wrong era.
I especially loved the look at family life, social class, and the historical backdrop. Chang brings it all to life, gives us an insight into how and why so many things were done the way they were for so many centuries.
Underlying it all is a constant facet of so many women’s lives – that we are not our own. We belong to our families, to our husbands, to our societies. It also showcases the responsibility of family to one another. The act of a father in anger that is also a protection of a daughter’s future. I may not agree with a lot of the dictates of the time, but I applaud the patriarchs who execute their responsibility as well as they can, within the strictures they have to work around.
Fans of Amy Tan, Lisa See, and Gail Tsukiyama will enjoy Three Souls, as will fans of family drama and tragic romance. Pick this up!
drey’s rating: Outstanding!
Have you read Three Souls? What did you think? And if you haven’t, read on to win your own copy!
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of Three Souls for you. This one’s open to US & Canada residents only; no PO Boxes please. To enter, fill out the form below before March 20th. Good luck!