Savvy Reader Book Club: Three Souls

What makes Three Souls a good book club choice?

Janie Chang’s debut novel, Three Souls, transports you into a world drowning in tradition, yet thriving on family and love. It is a very human story that presents you with characters and relationships you just can’t get enough of. You get a glimpse of 1920s China and ancient Chinese beliefs on afterlife and familial duties. It’s so compelling you’ll want to read it three times.” —Jess

After reading Yangsze Choo‘s The Ghost Bride, I was in love with Chinese culture and storytelling. Luckily, Three Souls was the next book I picked up. Unlike The Ghost BrideThree Souls fast-forwards to the early 19th century; China is amidst civil war and social change, and a restless ghost must make a life (and death)-altering decision. It is magical, as is Janie Chang’s writing.” —Kaiti

Here are some discussion questions to get your conversation started…

1)  Leiyin’s three souls manifest three very distinct and different personalities. What do you think the souls represent, individually and collectively? What do you think is their role in the story?

2)  Pre-World War II China was a time of great turmoil. What details and descriptions of ordinary life does the author use to evoke the social and political transitions taking place?

3)  Think about the conflicts that women of Leiyin’s generation experienced during this time of transition. How are they similar to the experiences of immigrant women today? How are they different?

4)  Three Souls makes a strong statement about how women were treated in Chinese society. Of all the examples showing how women were oppressed, which affected you the most and why?

5)  What new information did you learn about Chinese history, society or family dynamics? Were there any passages or scenes in the novel that you felt gave you fresh insights into that time and place?

For more discussion questions, click here.

Author Insights can also provide some interesting discussion topics:

Click here to read how Janie Chang’s grandmother, and past relatives, inspired Three Souls. On Open Book Toronto, Janie shared her creative process while writing her novel.  See the article here.

For more from Janie, visit her blog.

Reviews provide food for thought:

“Three Souls is a glorious, deeply readable novel—the kind you pick up and read voraciously, every chance you get. The kind you get lost in.” —Shaena Lambert, author of Oh, My Darling

“An enjoyable tale of scandal, ambition.” —The Winnipeg Free Press

“Compelling and utterly original. Janie Chang’s riveting debut gives us so much: a complex heroine, a window into the vanished world of pre-Communist China, a fascinating plot and language that sings. An intoxicating story of family, ambition and the risks we take for love.” –Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl

Hosting? Here are some tips:

Step into Song Leiyin’s upper class world in 1920’s China and host a traditional Chinese dinner while you discuss the book! Click here to find out how to make a 5 course traditional Chinese Dinner.

Step into Song Leiyin’s upper class world in 1920’s China and host a traditional Chinese dinner while you discuss Three Souls.

Supplementary Reading Material:

Janie Chang felt that Amy Tan‘s The Joy Luck Club spoke directly to her. Watch her rave about Amy Tan and her writing here:

Amy’s next book, The Valley of Amazement, is on sale in November.

Is your book club reading Three Souls? Tell us via twitter @SavvyReader or email us at for more book club inspiration!

Happy Reading!
The Savvy Reader team.

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Digital Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Canada. Film, fiction and fashion blog enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader & @ktvncnt.

2 thoughts on “Savvy Reader Book Club: Three Souls

  1. Just picked up Three Souls at the Toronto Word on the Street Festival this past Sunday! Am excited to add it to my TBR pile!

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