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Amy Tan can often deliver mixed results (I thought Saving Fish... was a mess), but when she's working on a mother/daughter relationship, we've got gold. This is the gold, and is just as true a story as anything nonfiction.
This book falls short of being a great novel for an ironic reason. The main character, Ruth, is an editor: she assist authors in tightening their work and putting it to the paper not as they wrote it, but as they imagined it. Part of me suspects this novel needed its main character's expertise. In no way is the novel bad, or even greatly flawed, it simply goes on a bit too long. With some slight tightening, this novel could be quick and impactful. The pay off in the final chapters of the novel, while satisfying, are somewhat undone by the novel's length.
Structurally, this book is interesting and fun, being broken into three parts. Parts 1 and 3 concern Ruth, dealing with her mother suffering from Alzheimer's, and part 2 details her mother's life as a child in China. While all three of these are interesting and weave together in very interesting ways, the length hurts the pacing, making it difficult to get through at times.
I feel that I am in no way the intended audience for this book (I am a 26 year old dude), I still enjoyed this novel thoroughly, despite what I feel are issues with pacing and length. I had always wanted to read an Amy Tan novel for some reason, and I'm glad that I finally have. I'll certainly read more of her work in the future.
I found this book far better than "The Joy Luck Club" which I have to admit I could not finish. I have seen parts of the movie (JLC) and thought I would like the book, especially since I liked this one so much. I couldn't put this book down; Joy Luck Club I returned only 1/3 read.
A timeless and beautiful recounting of Ruth's life with her mother - an immigrant from China following WWII; the discovery of handwritten account of her mother's life in China that reveals the identity of Ruth's Grandmother - "Precious Auntie". Highly recommended.
An exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters, told effectively via different generations of the same family. Realistic characters, interesting descriptions of Chinese culture and traditions, plus an engaging story made for a great read.
Amy Tan excels in the exploration of relationships between immigrant parents and American born children, and especially so in this novel of the discovery of a mother’s handwritten account of her life in China. Over the course of a year, mother and daughter finally discover what they share in their bones.
I loved this book! Mundane occurances become interesting and funny when Tan writes about them, and those difficult aspects of relationships are portrayed so perfectly. And that's not all - the story was really interesting, being told through a few generations. A beautiful book overall. Lovely.
Novel picks up in the second third of the book however falls flat in plot and character development.
The Bonesetter's Daughter is told in three parts: present day San Francisco; a small village in China pre-1940; and then back to present day U.S.A.
Ruth's mother, LuLing, was born in China and raised by a horribly disfigured nursemaid called Precious Auntie. There is a mystery surrounding the identity of LuLing's mother. LuLing's husband died young, so it was just Ruth and her mother in her family as she grew up. As an adult, Ruth has great difficulty negotiating intimate relationships. She has lived with a divorced man and his two teenaged daughters for 10 years, but still doesn't feel like she belongs there. Meanwhile, she worries about her mother, who is developing Alzheimer's. LuLing and Ruth are both complex, interesting women.
The first two parts were excellent but the final part seemed rushed and everything gets resolved into an unrealistically happy ending. Still, I would recommend this to women who enjoy reading about mother-daughter relationships. That is definitely Amy Tan's greatest strength.
As in her other books, Amy Tan digs through the layers of a family's history, the story melding the past ? and another culture ? with the present and Western culture. The daughter's relationship with her mother propels the book, yet it's the mother's gripping story of her childhood and young adulthood that makes this book such a good read.