Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Orange Wednesday: The Bonesetter's daughter (Tan)
When I spotted Amy Tan's The joy luck club in the library booksale for 20p, I couldn't resist it. This amazing multistranded debut novel tells the story of four Chinese mothers and four first generation Chinese-American daughters. The novel is cleverly constructed so that it is almost like a collection of stories - the mothers reveal their experiences of growing up in China, and these are contrasted with their daughters experiences in America. I found it to be a wonderful evocation of mother-daughter relationships as well as a fantastic insight into both Chinese and immigrant cultures.
Whilst this was not longlisted for the Orange prize, two of her later novels had been: The bonesetter's daughter and The hundred secret senses. And having read The joy luck club, it was not long before I sought one of them out.
If anything, I enjoyed The bonesetter's daughter even more than The joy luck club. It was somewhat similar, in that it combined the experiences of a first generation Chinese-American daughter with that of her mother in , but I felt that by focussing on just one pair, the characters and the story were much more developed. Ruth and her mother LuLing have many of the same issues as the women in The joy luck club - Ruth frequently struggles to understand her mother who, despite having lived in the United States for 50 years, is very keen to hold onto her Chinese customs and heritage and only speaks very poor English, and her mother has obviously had to try to come to terms with bringing up her daughter in a culture very different from the one that she was brought up in. This becomes more apparent after the mid-section of the book which describes LuLing's story of life in a small village in China in the 1930s.
Amy Tan's writing is both beautiful and easy to read, so coupled with an interesting story and details about a culture with which I am not particularly familiar, I hugely enjoyed this novel.
I'm extremely keen to get hold of The hundred secret senses now, but I'm also intrigued to seek out her memoir, The opposite of fate. Has anyone read either of those?