978-0-399-14685-5 / 0399146857

The Bonesetter's Daughter

by Tan, Amy

Publisher:Putnam Adult



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About the book:

Amy Tan's fourth novel The Bonesetter's Daughter, like her highly successful The Joy Luck Club, explores the conflicts between a Chinese-American woman and her Chinese mother. Set in San Francisco, Ruth and her mother LuLing exercise a frosty commitment to each other. When her mother begins to show signs of Alzheimer's, and her talk of bad luck and curses becomes more jumbled, Ruth realises that her encroaching dependency will change her life. She questions how she will she care for a parent who she mostly resented throughout her childhood. The illness finally prompts Ruth to get her mother's autobiography translated and the central section of the book becomes LuLing's story of her mother, the bonesetter's daughter.

Tan excels at locating the small, quotidian details of Californian domesticity and works the fissures and rifts between the generations very well. She can also blend hip, pop psychology with inherited Chinese lore to amusing effect. But the narrative starts to hum with energy and drive as the story is told from LuLing's perspective. The story shifts to a small Chinese village known as Immortal Heart, in the thirties, where LuLing's mother learnt her father's skill with a splint and special dragon bones dug out of a cave called Monkey's Jaw. The quality of the writing takes on the charm and compulsion of a fable as Ruth's grandmother's tragic life unfolds. In turn, Ruth uses what she learns of the maternal line of resilience to retrieve her own writing voice and vision: "These are the women who shaped her life, who are in her bones...They taught her to worry...They wanted her to get rid of the curses." As she recognises what her mother wants to remember, she begins to define what she wants for her own life.--Cherry Smyth

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