The Hundred Secret Senses

The Hundred Secret Senses

Book - 1995
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Baker & Taylor
Kwan, a seventeen-year-old Chinese half-sister, turns young Olivia's world upside down with her stories of ghosts of another time, tales that have a profound impact on Olivia's life and imagination, until she discovers a way to reconcile the ghosts of the past with her dreams of the future.

Blackwell North Amer
Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of southern China, this is a tale of American pragmatism shaken, and soothed, by Chinese ghosts. What proof of love do we seek between mother and daughter, among sisters, lovers, and friends? What are its boundaries and failings? Can love go beyond "Until death do us part"? And if so, which aspects haunt us like regretful ghosts?
In 1962, Olivia, nearly six years old, meets Kwan, her adult half sister from China, for the first time. Olivia's neglectful mother, who in pursuing a new marriage can't provide the attention her daughter needs, finds Kwan to be a handy caretaker. In the bedroom the sisters share, Kwan whispers secrets about ghosts and makes Olivia promise never to reveal them. Out of both fright and resentment, Olivia betrays her sister - with terrible consequences. From then on she listens to Kwan's stories and pretends to believe them.
Thirty years pass, and Olivia is about to divorce her husband, Simon, after a lengthy marriage. She is certain he has never given up his love for a former girlfriend, who died years before. Kwan and her ghosts believe otherwise, and they provide Olivia with ceaseless advice and pleas to reconsider. But Olivia has long since dismissed the ghosts of her childhood and the wacky counsel of her sister.
Just as Kwan anticipates, fate intervenes and takes her, Olivia, and Simon to China. In the village where Kwan grew up, Olivia confronts the tangible evidence of what she has always presumed to be her sister's fantasy of the past. And there, she finds the proof that love endures, and comes to understand what logic ignores, what you can know only through the hundred secret senses.

& Taylor

Kwan, a seventeen-year-old half-sister from China, turns young Olivia's world upside-down with her stories of ghosts of another time, tales that have a profound impact on Olivia's life and imagination, until she discovers a way to reconcile the ghosts ofthe past with her dreams of the future

Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1995
ISBN: 9780399141140
Branch Call Number: FIC Ta 1995
Characteristics: 358 pages ; 24 cm


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Oct 23, 2017

This was the kind of story that made me just want to read right to the end in one sitting. The story itself, although interesting, was not the real reason. I just loved Tan's writing; her way of relating thoughts as interesting inner conversations with oneself. Her characters are always interesting and this story about two half-sisters really kept my attention. Olivia meets her half-sister when Kwan-Li arrives from China at the age of fourteen. She speaks an endearing, or annoying depending on your perspective, kind of English, and takes to Olivia in a big way proclaiming she will look after her always. It seems Kwan Li can see dead people with her yin eyes and believes that people are born again just to be with those they love. To enjoy this story you must believe that Kwan Li is exactly who she says she is with the abilities she says she has. I found her delightful with her fractured English and her seemingly always sunny disposition. Olivia in her own way was also endearing with her frustrations and her doubts about her life and her anguish about not having a child. As excellent a read as Tan's other books.

Apr 04, 2013

Pop fiction. Set in California and Southern China, this novel tells the story of a woman and her half-sister, who see ghosts and tell ghost stories set in the 19th century. Unconvincing and unsatisfying.

penpencil22 Jun 24, 2011

My all-time favorite book by Amy Tan. gotta love Kwan :)

Feb 11, 2011

This was a magical book, hard to put down...finished it rather quickly due to compelling story and interesting characters.


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