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.