28 October 2009

Short Review: The Love Wife by Gish Jen

The Love Wife
is Gish Jen's third novel. It examines the relationships among an All-American white woman and her Chinese-American husband, her mother-in-law, and her children. Take a look at the publisher's summary:

Here is Carnegie Wong, second-generation Chinese American warm heart and funny guy. Here is his WASP wife, the delicious "za-za-vavoomy" Blondie. Here are their two adopted Asian daughters, and their half-half bio son. And here is Mama Wong, Carnegie's no-holds-barred mother, who, eternally opposed to his marriage, has arranged from her grave for a mainland Chinese relation to come look after the kids. Is this woman, as Carnegie claims, a nanny? Or is she, as Blondie fears, something else?

What happens as Carnegie and Blondie try to incorporate the ambiguous new arrival into their already complicated lives is touchingly, brilliantly, intricately told.
I read this novel in the summer of 2006; thus I don't remember the details. According to my reading notes, the characters are well developed, and the plot held my attention. However, Blondie is a bit too stereotypically WASP-ish and is not very assertive, which lessened my sympathy for her. On the other hand, the dynamics of the intersecting cultures and generations were interesting. I noted that the ending left me hanging, and not in a particularly good way.

When I was writing this post last night, I discovered that there was a Reading Group Guide for the novel. I looked over the questions and realized that The Love Wife would probably make a great book club choice. Jen brings up a number of interesting issues that could generate good discussions. I originally rated the novel a B-, but as a book club choice, I would consider it a solid B or even a B+.

The cover shows the 2004 Random House edition. (Source: bought; see review policy)

The Love Wife at an Indie
The Love Wife at Powell's
The Love Wife at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs; if you buy, I get a small percent.

Reading at the Beach is the host for this meme: Each week she invites us to spotlight a book whose title begins with the featured letter. This week it's L.


JoAnn 10/28/09, 7:34 AM  

I enjoyed the audio version but, since it's been several years, don't remember very much about it.

Unknown 10/28/09, 7:46 AM  

The letter L is producing some good books! It sounds like one I will like!

Julie P. 10/28/09, 8:16 AM  

So funny about your grade changing. When I started reviewing books, I realized that my grades are higher when I have to "analyze" the book. I definitely think you don't have to love a book for it to make a great book club read!

Nise' 10/28/09, 9:30 AM  

It is a great idea to have made a few notes after reading a book. I am like you, many books I don't remember much about a few years down the road.

S. Krishna 10/28/09, 9:58 AM  

I'd never heard of this book, but I might have to give it a try. Thanks for the review!

bermudaonion 10/28/09, 12:44 PM  

I'm amazed that you kept such detailed notes. I think it would be interesting to explore the differences in the couple's cultures.

Anonymous,  10/28/09, 1:49 PM  

Sounds very interesting. I've never read Gish Jen. I think I'll put this on my WL!

Thanks for playing!

Meg @ write meg! 10/28/09, 1:51 PM  

This one is totally new to me, but sounds very interesting! I love anything dealing with family dynamics and identity. Thanks for the intro to it! :) And I'm impressed you make/keep notes, too; I'm terrible about that...

Margot 10/28/09, 2:10 PM  

I like stories about inter-cultural families. This one sounds very interesting. You are to be admired for all those book notes you've kept over the years. I envy you that collection.

kayerj 10/28/09, 10:19 PM  

talk about an interfering mother in law. She has a long reach. If you want to wander down my road I’m home.

me again 10/28/09, 10:57 PM  

Never heard of the author or the book, but looks like one I might enjoy. Thanks for the book recommendation!
My L book is HERE

Anonymous,  10/28/09, 11:12 PM  

I'm impressed that you can remember so much about a book you read years ago. Until I started my blog, I did not take any notes and relying on my memory is not always so fruitful!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 10/29/09, 1:21 AM  

I read this pre-blog and while I remember enjoying the story, it hasn't stood out. I barely remember Blondie.

Thanks for stopping by. I read all comments and may respond here, via e-mail, or on your blog. I visit everyone who comments, but not necessarily right away.

I cannot turn off word verification, but if you are logged into Blogger you can ignore the captcha. I have set posts older than 14 days to be on moderation. I can no longer accept anonymous comments. I'm so sorry if this means you have to register or if you have trouble commenting.


All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2020. All rights reserved.



To The Blogger Guide, Blogger Buster, Tips Blogger, Our Blogger Templates, BlogU, and Exploding Boy for the code for customizing my blog. To Old Book Illustrations for my ID photo. To SEO for meta-tag analysis. To Blogger Widgets for the avatars in my comments and sidebar gadgets. To Review of the Web for more gadgets. To SuziQ from Whimpulsive for help with my comments section. To Cool Tricks N Tips for my Google +1 button.

Quick Linker



  © Blogger template Coozie by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP