The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds

The Malayan Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Christine Rendel
Series: The Malayan Series, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (246 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya - and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother.

Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man. Together, they have ten children. At last, she can pass on the stories she has heard - magical tales of men from the sea - and her warrior's courage, along with her wonderful kueh (cakes).

But the cultural shift towards the West has begun. Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.

©2016 Selina Siak Chin Yoke. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

mercy! wtf is going on???

What would have made The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds better?

uh get another narrator?

What was most disappointing about Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s story?

disappointing? how bout this: i don't even recognize the name(s)! i must've heard them, but...the way SOMEbody's asian pronounciations were so off the mark, it ruined the ambiance.

What didn’t you like about Christine Rendel’s performance?

buzzkill. i'm sure she would read Downton Abbey really fine

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds?

are you kidding me?? pshh no way. thank goodness #audible is so understanding. i'm not famous or anything, but i'm old. no time to waste..you get my drift?

Any additional comments?

again, i'm just an old woman, but i enjoy submerging myself in a great audiobook. i do not however appreciate being read to like a school child. am i wrong to yearn for the sound of an (authentic) asian-accented narrator?

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderfully told; perfectly narrated!

Performance is perfect. Narrator does unique voices for all characters. Even main characters voice changes over length of narrative as they "get older." If you have interest or experience in Malaysia and Chinese culture in that part of the world you will live this story!

The only reason story is not rated 5 is because it lacks clear singular crisis. Of course this is more realistic as it covers the life of a Chinese matriarch. Wonderfully told; perfectly narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

This book was very dull. It was a very flat storyline, just point a to b to c. No interesting turns, writing style was too simplistic. I do not recommend, had to force myself through it!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Totally diappointing!!

What would have made The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds better?

If it was 2/3 shorter than it was. And the tedium was arduous and painful. The names of all the characters were hard to keep track of. I had to force myself to finish it even though I liked the concept and was looking forward to learning about the culture.I guess what would have made it better was to not have read it~

Would you recommend The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds to your friends? Why or why not?

No....boring, arduous....repetitive and nothing of great interest. Nothing memorable or noteworthy.

What character would you cut from The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds?

I can't even recall their names!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A historical, cultural tour!

Loved the exceptional imagery drawn up by the author throughout the book! I almost felt as if I were in the scenes observing the characters in the story!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

thoroughly enjoyed

I'm so glad I had this thru audible. the narrator brought me directly into the story in a way I dont think could with just reading it. the voice inflections and accent brought this novel to another level...I was in tears several times...and Im so sad it was over. I wish I could taste the Nonia quay and all the food described 😊 a wonderful book! I even listened while on my runs ... made me forget about running pains as I kept listening chapter after chapter. I highly recommend 👌

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting, character's very realistic

This story was entertaining and educational. I identified with the lead character and how she cared for her family. I highly recommend this book!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Tedious

Absolutely nothing interesting about this story. Nothing happened, no interesting cultural points,very shallow characters. I skipped chapters and still never got to anything interesting. I really don’t call a woman who loses her husband but is left with real estate (shops &land) in dire straights! Really?? Her desperation to figure how to make money,then setting up a “cake” stall, as a huge accomplishment is pretty lame. The worse thing is everyone’s dialog,but the narrator, is written/read in “pigeon” English! It doesn’t make ANY sense! Like they can’t even speak their own language in full sentences.
It’s just really lacking in culture of the times, traditions, description of geographical areas, just mundane, boring daily life that could actually be anywhere.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

could be about 200 pages shorter

The story follows the main character Chye Hoon, a woman of mixed Malayan-Chinese heritage (known as Nyonya) from childhood (born in the late1800s), through marriage, motherhood (10 children) and into old age. Its focus is everyday life of Malaysian women and families. Through Chye we learn her heritage, customs and beliefs and how they conflict with the western culture that has come to her country. Her deepest desire is to teach her children their cultural heritage but they resist as they want to be “modern”.

The book is slow moving, repetitive and much too long for the content. The day-to-day life story telling is, at times, interesting, but not especially exciting. The book is 476 pages and would have been a much more enjoyable story had it been about 300 pages long. There are a lot of characters in this book and I found it very difficult to keep them all straight. I did enjoy learning the historical aspect of the Malayan-Chinese culture, particularly as the “white devil” takes over more and more of her country. “Her ancestors would fight for her spirit, but so too would the white devils who had come to rule. They had taken first our land and then our souls.”

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds is apparently book 1 of a 2 book family saga.

For more of my book reviews follow me on Instagram at #emptynestreader and on Goodreads.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved the story every word took me to a new world.

loved the story every word transported me to a new world. I was disappointed when it was over.I wanted more.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • marie lee
  • 02-10-17

Wonderful Memories

At first I thought I wouldn't be able to get into the story because it was read by an English narrator. That soon changed as the narrator brought in the local way of speaking. I was enthralled.
I am an English lady in her seventies . My late husband was Hokkien Chinese originally born in Malaya. Later, the whole family moved to Singapore. We lived in Singapore with family in the sixties and seventies.
It was an absolute delight to read this story and brought back many wonderful memories of my time there. Of course I was familiar with the style of language and the mixture of the Chinese and Malay cultures. This fascinating book and the brilliant narration by Christine Rendel really brought back wonderful memories of our time there.
I can't wait to read another book by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.

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  • maura o hanlon
  • 11-23-16

Back to the past .

Beautifully written book . Takes you back to past time ,s . Great narration by Christine Rendel .