What We Were Promised Audiobook, by Lucy Tan Play Audiobook Sample

What We Were Promised Audiobook

What We Were Promised Audiobook, by Lucy Tan Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Jennifer Lim Publisher: Hachette Book Group Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 7.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 5.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: July 2018 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781478920908

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

50:10 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

14:00 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

27:22 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Publisher Description

Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and unfulfilled promises.

After years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina and their daughter, Karen, join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city. One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina discovers that a childhood keepsake, an ivory bracelet, has gone missing.

The incident contributes to a wave of unease that has begun to settle throughout the Zhen household. Wei, a marketing strategist, bows under the guilt of not having engaged in nobler work. Meanwhile, Lina, lonely in her new life of leisure, assumes the modern moniker tai tai—a housewife who does no housework at all. She spends her days haunted by the circumstances surrounding her arranged marriage to Wei and her lingering feelings for his brother, Qiang. Lina and Wei take pains to hide their anxieties, but their housekeeper, Sunny, a hardworking woman with secrets of her own, bears witness to their struggles. When Qiang reappears in Shanghai after decades on the run with a local gang, the family must finally come to terms with the past.

From a silk-producing village in rural China, up the corporate ladder in suburban America, and back again to the post-Maoist nouveau riche of modern Shanghai, What We Were Promised explores the question of what we owe to our country, our families and ourselves.

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“Narrator Jennifer Lim has fun with the character of Sunny, an opinionated housemaid…Lim’s narration is arch, sardonic, and swiftly paced. These qualities highlight the humor laced throughout the novel, especially when it zooms in on Sunny’s time with the Zhen family. With her lively performance, Lim places Sunny’s hopes and aspirations center stage…There are a number of other female characters, and Lim makes them as familiar as our own friends.”

— AudioFile 


  • “I read What We Were Promised in a state of enchantment, immediately drawn into the longings, secrets, and very human foibles of its finely-drawn cast of characters. Both intimate and panoramic…local and universal.”

    — Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author
  • “A luminous family saga.”

    — Entertainment Weekly
  • “Homecomings aren’t always sweet. And for Lina and her husband, Wei, they can be outright dangerous when a long-lost brother’s return threatens to pull their family apart…This seemingly inconspicuous visit sparks generations of stories fraught with star-crossed romance, familial anxiety, and expat privilege.”

    — USA Today (★★★½ out of four)
  • “From fitting in culturally, family dynamics, and self-worth, the story will resonate with anyone who is uncertain and fearful about their future.”

    — Women.com
  • “An astute portrait of a staid family thrown into disarray…Tan does not explore the Tolstoyan adage that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way but rather throws a stone into the still pool of carefully balanced domesticity. Though set within Shanghai’s Chinese-born, Western-educated repatriate community, the push and pull of family ties and rivalries could as easily occur in any place and time.”

    — Shelf Awareness
  • “Tan’s talent as a storyteller clearly shines through her strong plot lines and characterization; readers will want to know more about each well-crafted player in the story, rich or poor, young or old. Verdict: A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.”

    — Library Journal
  • “Abounding in insight and deftly told.”

    — Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements


  • A Huffington Post Pick of Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018
  • Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize
  • A Pop Sugar Pick of 30 New Books to Pick Up This Summer
  • A Barnes & Noble Discover Award selection
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month selection
  • A Refinery29 Pick of Brilliant Beach Books
  • An Audible Editors Top Pick for Summertime Listening
  • A Millions.com Pick
  • An Entertainment Weekly Pick of the Month

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About Lucy Tan

Lucy Tan grew up in New Jersey and has spent much of her adult life in New York and Shanghai. She received her BA from New York University and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was awarded the 2016 August Derleth Prize. Her fiction has been published in journals such as Asia Literary Review and Ploughshares, where she was winner of the 2015 Emerging Writer’s Contest.

About Jennifer Lim

Jennifer Lim is a voice talent and audiobook narrator.