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Night of Many Dreams: A Novel
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Manufacturer: St. Martin's Griffin
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.54
EAN: 9780312199401
ISBN: 0312199406
Label: St. Martin's Griffin
Manufacturer: St. Martin's Griffin
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 288
Publication Date: 1999-07-01
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: 1999-06-24
Studio: St. Martin's Griffin

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Editorial Reviews:

As World War II threatens their comfortable life in Hong Kong, young Joan and Emma Lew escape with their family to spend the war years in Macao. When they return home, Emma develops a deep interest in travel and sets her sights on an artistic life in San Francisco, while Joan turns to movies and thoughts of romance to escape the pressures of her real life. As the girls become women, each follows a path different from what her family expects. But through periods of great happiness and sorrow, the sisters learn that their complicated ties to each other--and to the other members of their close-knit family—are a source of strength as they pursue their separate dreams.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: My least favorite Tsukiyama book so far
Comment: NIGHT OF MANY DREAMS by Gail Tsukiyama
January 21, 2008

Rating 3.5/5 stars

I think this is the third Tsukiyama book I've read and so far the least favorite. It is the story of a Chinese family living in Hong Kong before the start of W.W.II and the communist takeover of China. The story is written from various viewpoints - Emma, the youngest sister who is studious and bright; Joan, the older sister, who only wants to be an actress; and Auntie Go, their mother's sister who runs a knitting factory and never married.

What I found lacking in this novel was any clear direction of where the story should be going, except that of a family's story from 1940 through 1965. The reader will watch the two girls grow up in Hong Kong, will learn about the family history, in particular that of Auntie Go but also that of the girls' parents. I think the highlight of the story were the years during W.W.II, when the Japanese took over Hong Kong and the Chinese and British subjects that remained in Hong Kong lived in fear. The writing during this part of the book felt more solid, and I actually felt something for the characters at this point. What I also enjoyed about the story were the details of their lives, from living with loyal servants, to their years in Macao where they waited out the war years in safety.

I think my opinions of this book will probably be in the minority, but I really was looking forward to a much better written book. There was definitely something lacking, and while I enjoyed the story in general, I didn't connect with any of the characters, except possibly Auntie Go. This wont' stop me from continuing to read Tsukiyama's books, however. NIGHT OF MANY DREAMS gets a marginal recommendation.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: "Dream" is a snooze
Comment: My book club selected this book because Tsukiyama is one of our favorite authors. Compared to her other novels like Samurai's Garden, Language of Threads and Women of the Silk, Tsukiyama's Night of Many Dreams does not have a compelling story line - mildly interesting, but not a page-turner. It's defintiley not one of her best efforts. Ironically, the title seems to have nothing to do with the tale, except that reading the book might make you snooze.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: I enjoyed the book, but not the sequence of events
Comment: I found this book in a hospital waiting room recently while waiting for a family member receiving a treatment. After about three pages, I was hooked and conned a nurse into letting me borrow it from the hospital.

Overall, the book was well written, interesting, and informative. If it is historically accurate, I learned some things.

One thing that I didn't like about this book was that it jumped around so much. For instance, in one scene, Emma and Jack have their first date and in the next, they are married with a two-year-old child.

I didn't like that the male characters weren't really developed. Hing is always off in another country for work. Joseph's a letch. Chin is elusive. You learn nothing of Wilson's life outside of the Rec Center. Jack is developed pretty well, but then is axed at the end. I knew it was coming, but found it completely unnecessary to kill off Jack's character. That was just wrong.

I found it odd that Joan and Emma have English names when no one else does (in Hong Kong) except for Joseph.

I like Emma's and Joan's characters. Joan is depicted as a strong, stubborn person who can succeed at anything she desires. However, I didn't like it and found it strange that such a strong character was reduced to premarital sex with her director.

That was a really unusual scene. Here's a young woman going into her house after work and her boyfriend drives up saying he needs to speak with her. So, they drive off to his apartment, which seemed like an odd place just to go to "talk." Along the way she thinks that whatever happens, she has no control over. Huh? This is a strong woman, who once fought off an armed soldier and she thinks she has no control over a chat with her boyfriend? That didn't make any sense.

At his apartment, he's so embarrassed about his messy bedroom, that he closes the door. Then, he just picks her up out of the blue mid-discussion, carts her off into the embarrassingly messy bedroom, undresses her, and does the deed without her saying or doing anything. Just bizarre.

Overall, I really liked the book, but would have liked some characters and relationships developed better and to not end when it did.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Tsukeyama delivers through her voice
Comment: I approached this novel after relishing Tsukeyama's "Women of the Silk" and "The Samurai Garden". After two such masterpieces, I was half-expecting a waning ability to keep fresh story ideas and a slip into banal immigrant themes. As with her other works, I found strikingly-moving interactions between characters and a fluidity which draws one into the scenic location changes of the individuals in the story.
One of Tsukeyama's talents lies in her subtle ability to introduce character traits through tight dialogue and her resistance to pepper the discourses with Asian-sounding metaphors and references. By using the latter sparsely, she paints a more realistic San Francisco, Macao, and Hong Kong, three cities seeking modernity against the pull of traditionalism and sentimentality. I enjoy her choice of time and places, depicting a family's progression over a period which spans several decades beginning with WWII-the most volatile and growth-inspired decades of the Pacific Rim.
Through each of her tales, I imagine Tsukeyama talking to procurement agents with negotiations on upcoming screen adaptations. If not done yet, perhaps she might convince an Asian production company to supervise such films, for they call for more subtle and engaging cinematography than is generally found in blockbuster films.
I can imagine how the story might read if translated into Chinese for an Asian readership. With her formulas and style, Tsukeyama shall continue to breathe beauty into her character-driven stories. Although I read it alone over a Chinese dinner at a restaurant on San Bruno Avenue, it beckons to be shared with another as a corn-cob-piped storyteller might. Try reading this book aloud to a friend, even in English--you will understand what I mean.
I highly recommend this book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A serene tour de force
Comment: I was recommended to this book by a friend, and before that, I had never even heard of the author. The plot wasn't intricate nor breathtaking, nor is it the psychological workings of the characters violently stirring. This story of Emma and the years of her childhood to adulthood set with the scenes of boisterous Hong Kong, friendly Macao, and abroad in San Francisco could only be depicted with a style of such grace and candor. Whenever I feel like a rest from the rush of this world, I would pick up another book by Tsukiyama and allow the lightness of her beautiful writing life me up.

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