Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Title: The Joy Luck Club
Author: Amy Tan
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 1989
Rating: Five out of Five

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue. With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

This is a beautifully written novel that describes the lives of four Chinese mothers, who left China for America, and their Chinese-American daughters. All the characters are well developed and the personalities of each one come through very strongly. The stories of the mothers' lives in China are sensitively and delicately combined with the perceptions of the daughters, making the novel eloquently poignant tale. The author captures the complexities of the relationships between the mothers and daughters extremely well. It was fascinating to read about the history of the Chinese mothers', and how their experiences affected their relationships with her American-born daughters, who couldn't really begin to understand what their mothers went through before leaving China for a better life.

Although it is a captivating and enticing novel, at times it is often easy to become confused about what mother goes with which daughter. A small gripe about an otherwise superb novel.

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