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?


  1. I haven't read this or the ones you ask about (have read The Joy Luck Club) but I do highly recommend The Kitchen God's Wife. Amy Tan is easy to read as well as gripping; I must seek out more of her work soon as it is so absorbing.

  2. I love Amy Tan! I have read all her books and love them all (except Saving Fish from Drowning which was a big departure for her in terms of style and didn't work) Her autobiography is fascinating - I highly recommend it.

    I'm really pleased that you've discovered her!

  3. Amy Tan is one of my favourite authors. I have yet to read the Joy Luck Club yet, but adored the Bonesetter's Daughter and the Kitchen God's Wife. The Hundred Secret Senses is very enjoyable also. I would highly recommend the Opposite of Fate - especially as it reveals a lot of inspirartion for her books. The Opposite of Fate is not a traditional memoir though - it is more like a treasure chest of odds and ends of Amy's family and upbringing, and insights into her books. It was these insights that I enjoyed the most.

  4. It's ncie to hear everyone's enthusiasm for Amy Tan - I definitely think she is worth exploring further. Thanks for the recommendations :)

  5. I read The Joy Luck Club but didn't really enjoy it that much. Bonesetter's Daughter and Kitchen God's Wife were both highly recommended to me, so I'll probably try one of those soon.

    Glad you enjoyed this :)


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