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The Hundred Secret Senses
Review of "The Hundred Secret Senses" by Amy Tan
And this book introduces us to that most unforgettable character: Kwan. In many ways this is my favorite Amy Tan novel. I think you will enjoy The Hundred Secret Senses - especially meeting the memorable Kwan.
The Hundred Secret Senses: A Novel [Paperback]
This intricate novel enthralls you by the use of parallel plots - a modern day story of a modern Chinese American woman and her embarrassing - but wonderful sister Kwan who can see GHOSTS, and a historical Chinese story that Kwan says is her past life story.
This story is about family shame, Chinese culture, psychic phenomena and adventure. And it is by the incomparable Amy Tan. How much better can you get?
Olivia was jealous of the attention that Kwan had gained, and also embarrassed by her less than sophisticated ways. She often tattled to her parents. When she told them that Kwan saw ghosts they decided Kwan was insane and hospitalized her in an insane asylum. There she is treated with shock "therapy" - leaving Kwan's beautiful thick hair as coarse and tightly curly afterwards. However, somehow Kwan forgave Olivia, and much of the story deals with how Olivia learns to appreciate Kwan.
The story in The Hundred Secret Senses
A Tale of Two China's
The book takes place in the Chinese community of modern San Francisco.
The story begins as Olivia Yee, a half-Chinese and half-Caucasian modern woman learns as a little girl at her father's death that she has a Chinese half-sister.
After the death of the father, her new sister Kwan comes to live with them. Olivia is hoping for an exotic, delicate flower.
instead she gets Kwan - who is an embarrassment from the very beginning with her flamboyant, clumsy ways, her broken English, and her unsophisticated optimism. But most upsetting of all Kwan has "yin eyes" - and she claims these eyes give her the ability to see ghosts.
Throughout the book Olivia teases Kwan in cruel ways for her differences; with the worse assault being tattling to adults about Kwan's claims to see ghosts.
Kwan explains the Hundred Secret Sense further to Olivia
Olivia " What do you mean, hundred secret sense?'"
Kwan" Ah! I already told you so many time! You don't listen? Secret sense is not really secret. We just call secret because everyone has, only forgotten. Same sense like ant feet, elephant trunk, dog nose,cat whisker, whale ear, bat wing, clam shell, snake tongue, little hair on flower. Memory, seeing, hearing, feeling, all come together, then you know something true in your heart. Like one sense, I don't know how say, maybe sense of tingle."
Amy Tan Reads the Book For You
Amy Tan's official site - don't miss it!
- Amy Tan's Official Website
Amy Tan's official site
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On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?
Send to Yin World. Everything with mind and heart together, use hundred secret sense.
Miss Moo's Life in China in the 1800's
A Fascinating Sub-plot in this book
Because Kwan can see ghosts, we are treated with stories of her "past life" in southern China in the 1850's. There Kwan was a young woman of the Hakka minority living with American missionaries with an agenda to overcome the current political dynasty with a Christian based rulership that goes beyond any desires to bring "truth" to the Chinese people.
The view of American Imperialism that comes about is painful; we watch the Chinese people played on with threats and promises of abundance. Kwan's historical character: "Miss Moo" gets an unique view of the missionary society as she becomes the friend and confident of Miss Banner, one of the missionaries. The story here evolves into a dramatic end throughout the story, and we learn more of what made Kwan, the loyal, good-hearted woman that she is.
The multiple story lines were one more example of what a rich writer Amy Tan is - and it made The Hundred Secret Senses a hugely enjoyable book.
More Amy Tan on Amazon - And More Great Chinese Entertainment
The Hundred Secret Senses translated into Spanish - more chances to read this wonderful book.
More Amy Tan at her best: mothers and daughters, Chinese village past with a modern Chinese-American present and beautiful storytelling that holds it all together.
In this Dvd you will be able to see an interview with Amy Tan in which she discusses her experience with The Joy Luck Club, as well as the Hundred Secret Senses.
Unfortunately this is the only one of Amy Tan's books that is available in the form of a movie. Fortunately, this is an excellent film directed by Wayne Wang and not to be missed!
And while we are at it.......We might as well add this DVD - one of my favorites about the Chinese and Chinese American experience, again directed by Wayne Wang.
The Trip inside China
As the story developed in San Francisco, Olivia and her husband Kwan grew more and more estranged. Kwan sensed that quickly and could not help but trying to do everything she could to bring them back together. The family was unexpectedly drawn to China, where they were able to visit Kwan's relatives deep into a rural area.
There they had many adventures as they meet Kwan's people and the story came to the end.
How did This Book End?
The book's end caught me by surprise, with a poignant but very touching conclusion that left me thinking about it for days.
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