I officially do not want to read anything by Tan again. At least this is how I feel at the moment.
Why the three stars: The Kitchen God's Wife
is very well written, but I hated what this book was doing to me. The WWII in China is merely a backdrop for the protagonist's personal drama of epic proportions; suffice to say that when something very bad, but not exactly cruel, happened (one of protagonist's children dies, quite straightforwardly, of plague)
, I felt relief.
Winnie (the protagonist's new, American name) was married to a psychopath. Throughout the book, she has to cope with humiliation, degradation, and a plethora of personal tragedies : she is repeatedly, regularly raped, humiliated by her husband in private and in front of their friends, loses children because of her husband's violence and cruelty - directly and indirectly
. This is, I think, a book about comradeship and despair, loss and strength; but if you do not bear reading about serious abuse too well, consider skipping this one.