Three Souls by Janie Chang mini-review

This week’s mini book review is courtesy of the Glen Forrest Book Club. Three Souls by Janie Chang opens in China in 1935, and is the story told by the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin who watches her own funeral accompanied by three souls. The Book Club gave this novel 4 out of 5 stars, enjoying the simple, clearly stated prose, the historical context, and the use of the three souls as a literary device. The Book Club thought the length was a good one for book clubs – not too long and not too short! The novel goes back in time to 1920s China as Leiyin reviews her life. The setting of pre-Mao Chinese society was absorbing and illuminating.

In the story, Leiyin has to understand why she cannot enter the afterlife, and it is the role of the three souls to bring her this revelation. As a wilful and selfish teenager Leiyin, meets Hanchin, a poet of left-wing ideals. Leiyin falls in love with him, but in the patriarchial, strict Chinese society, she is exiled for disobeying her father. The events which follow result in her death. The themes of love, family, and consequences are wonderfully dealt with.

It is a clearly recommended read, and a great one for book clubs.

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