Three Souls

Chang, Janie

  22 Reviews

To achieve reincarnation, Song Leiyin must atone for the wrongs of her short life. With her three souls, yin, yang and hun, Leiyin examines her life, that of a privileged young woman in early 20th century China in a time of political upheaval and social change. Keen to be educated, Leiyin was thwarted by tradition and familial duty and pays a heavy price for her rebellion.

With its unique narration and cultural insights, this is an intriguing story inspired by the author's family history. [Larger font]

Comments from Groups

This book engendered good discussion. It was agreed that it's a well written insight into traditional Chinese culture, and a clever literary device. Delightful. Auckland 332

We loved this book! Great style of writing - the story raced along... Dunedin 015

Highly recommended - we all really enjoyed the book. A unique story line, and excellent descriptive language. Hamilton 051

Comments were very favourable. Members felt the setting, and background of change, gave a fascinating picture. Some felt let down by the more open ending, while others felt it was fitting. We loved the fact that all characters were sympathetically dealt with. We also were interested in the fact that the author is Taiwanese, and used some real-life events from her family in the novel. Christchurch 406

We all enjoyed this book, and were impressed that it was the first novel by this author. We thought the development of characters was competent and insightful, and we were were pleased to see an older, and rapidly changing China,through her characters' eyes and actions. Highly recommended. Napier 005



NELS 076
Unique perspective. We so enjoyed reading about the different culture, and loved all the twists and turns. Good characters, and the second part of the book was action packed.
CHCH 171
Very enlightening and insightful book about that era in China, across different levels of society. Interesting to use the three souls to show these various perspectives. Great questions generated much discussion.
KAIK 003
This was our first book and most people's first time being part of a book group. No one enjoyed the start, but all loved the book.
Mostly our group enjoyed this book. It gave an understanding to the situation in China at that time - the conflict in the evolving middle class between traditional and modern, capitalism and communism. We debated the value in using the voice of three souls. Some doubted it added value. At least it was a new revelation to the Chinese psyche.
Enjoyed by all of our group. We had a very spirited discussion.
A very enjoyable book with a unique perspective on Chinese culture and history from the 1930s. We liked the style of writing and the perspective of the three souls - something which we wouldn't have in our culture. The three parts of the book highlighted the changes in Leiyin's life and death. It raised issues of the role of women and differences between our current lifestyle and the expectations of Chinese women at the time.
A challenging but worthwhile read.
One person loved this, another couldn't read "a book with ghosts". The rest found it readable but not tremendously engaging.
TAUR 038
Fantastic book! Best read we have had this year!!!
All enjoyed it. Very well-written, and a good, twisty plot.
Our group all agreed that Three Souls was very easy to read, and the entire group enjoyed the story and the method of narration from a 'Ghost' especially. The information regarding China's history from the 1920s was engaging and well described.
WELL 036
Our group loved this book - most said they couldn't put it down. We found the 3 souls a clever way to reflect the story. The historical commentary was also fascinating: lack of status for women, illiteracy ( even amongst the wealthy), and the lack of national cohesion.
Everyone LOVED this book. Hard to put down and beautifully written.
AUCK 360
A good but not great book. Three did not read it. One comment was "the Downton Abbey of China" as it only showed things from the elite point of view. One had read it before but didn't remember until nearly finished! The group were divided over whether the device of the supernatural added or was annoying. Some good insights into the history of China and gender politics.
TAUR 038
Fantastic read! Best book we have read this year!!!
WANG 010
Every person in our group found this an interesting and enjoyable read. Most of the discussion was about women's rights and Chinese cultural beliefs. The lives of the household staff also drew comment.
An interesting and engaging book with many layers and a confident writing style - enjoyable to read and discuss.
Most of our group really liked this book - we thought it was amazing for a first novel. The style, although unusual, was very effective ie. a deceased person looking over and guiding her family through dreams.
Our whole group loved the book, and all agreed it was captivating'. There was lots of talk about ghosts and dreams at our get-together. A great start to the year.
Our favourite book so far. Creative writing and well developed characters. We especially liked the historical nature of it.
This is an absorbing novel of romance and revolution, loyalty, family and undying love. Revenge, betrayal and forbidden love are set amid the period of history when Nationalism and Communism were warring for power. Our members were all captivated by the many themes of this complex novel. We all found it to be thoroughly engrossing and remarkably easy to read. We certainly appreciated the insights into the lives of the everyday Chinese, both rich and poor, in this turbulent time in their history. I think we all agreed that it was one of our favourite choices, and would highly recommend it.
CHCH 240
All enjoyed reading Three Souls. The style of writing fitted the culture. It was described as refreshing yet perplexing at times. A wonderful insight into Chinese culture during the 1930's - their life, name structure, and family life with male dominance. An easy read but very cleverly written - fabulously brilliant writing! And quite a different approach to writing. The approach to using Leiyin's souls (in reality, her conscience) was fascinating and informative.