Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book Review: The Bonesetter's Daughter

I love Amy Tan. I fell behind with my Amy Tan reading after her first two novels, and I'm catching up with the novels I've missed. I read Saving Fish From Drowning a year or so ago and finished The Bonesetter's Daughter last week. Tan is, really, a masterful storyteller.

As in most of her other novels, Tan explores in this novel the mother/daughter relationship and the role of the extended family and one's rich family history in one's life. I love the feeling that I get reading Tan's novels: that we aren't just floating through this world aimlessly; we are structured by our heritage, formed by our parents and strengthened by our lineage. We are anchored, and the more we know about our family stories, the more we can understand about who we are—and aren't.

LuLing, now an old woman fighting Alzheimer's, was once the village bonesetter's daughter in a tiny village in China; decades later her daughter Ruth reluctantly and then with astonishment goes about discovering her mother's true past. The narratives of the young woman LuLing and the middle-aged Ruth blend together beautifully, without a jolting between past and present.

Tan's stories are so multi-layered. There are an abundance of relationships explored here, beyond just mother and daughter; fascinating pieces of life in China in the early to mid-1900s are described; and of course the whole Chinese and Chinese-American cultural themes are fascinating.

I think at this point I've read all of Tan's fiction, and I look forward to more of her work in the fiture. This time I won't let a whole decade slip by without reading her.

5 comments:

Amy said...

This is my favorite Amy Tan novel!

Anna said...

I'll always have a soft spot for The Joy Luck Club, but I loved this one, too. You really can't go wrong with Amy Tan.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

crochet lady said...

I read the 'Joy Luck Club' some years ago and liked it. I added 'The Bonesetter's Daughter' to my reading list, sounds good. Thanks.

PS. I have a review on my blog for 'The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet' by Jamie Ford.

Krakovianka said...

I love Amy Tan, too. I wish she'd write more.

Mindy Withrow said...

This is the only Amy Tan book I have read so far -- and I read it a few years ago -- but I did love the way she moved between LuLing's and Ruth's experiences to reveal past and present together, and she deepened my appreciation for many aspects of Chinese culture. Thanks for your review -- I find it via the Sat Review at Semicolon, where I just posted my two reviews of the week as well.