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The Bonesetter's Daughter Mass Market Paperback – January 29, 2002
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A San Francisco career woman who makes her living by ghostwriting self-help books, Ruth has little idea of her mother's past or true identity. What's more, their relationship has tended to be an angry one. Still, Ruth recognizes the onset of LuLing's decline--along with her own remorse over past rancor--and hires a translator to decipher the packets. She also resolves to "ask her mother to tell her about her life. For once, she would ask. She would listen. She would sit down and not be in a hurry or have anything else to do."
Framed at either end by Ruth's chapters, the central portion of The Bonesetter's Daughter takes place in China in the remote, mountainous region where anthropologists discovered Peking Man in the 1920s. Here superstition and tradition rule over a succession of tiny villages. And here LuLing grows up under the watchful eye of her hideously scarred nursemaid, Precious Auntie. As she makes clear, it's not an enviable setting:
I noticed the ripe stench of a pig pasture, the pockmarked land dug up by dragon-bone dream-seekers, the holes in the walls, the mud by the wells, the dustiness of the unpaved roads. I saw how all the women we passed, young and old, had the same bland face, sleepy eyes that were mirrors of their sleepy minds.Nor is rural isolation the worst of it. LuLing's family, a clan of ink makers, believes itself cursed by its connection to a local doctor, who cooks up his potions and remedies from human bones. And indeed, a great deal of bad luck befalls the narrator and her sister GaoLing before they can finally engineer their escape from China. Along the way, familial squabbles erupt around every corner, particularly among mothers, daughters, and sisters. And as she did in her earlier The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan uses these conflicts to explore the intricate dynamic that exists between first-generation Americans and their immigrant elders. --Victoria Jenkins --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Realizing she is having problems with her memory long before Ruth suspects it, Luling painstakingly writes the facts of her life as best she remembers it, so that her story doesn't die with her failing memory.
The start and finish of this novel, which chronicles Ruth's struggle in coming to terms with her mother througout her life and Ruth's stumbling upon LuLing's memoirs, frame the middle section of the book, which consist of the memoirs themselves.
I found the novel absolutely fascinating, and read through it in a single sitting.
Two mother-daughter stories are presented here, as the relationship between LuLing and her mother are also central to the telling of this wonderful story. Amy Tan does a superb job of presenting these separate yet connected narratives into a masterpiece of a book, blending character, dialogue, and narrative seemlessly (and seemingly effortlessly) together.
Readers of the author's previous novels will find similarity between The Bonesetter's Daughter and her previous novels. Some readers, as I, will find everything comfortably familiar. On the other hand, it is only fair to criticize the formulaic sameness of her work. The repeated exploration of the relationship between a Chinese-born mother and her american born daughter is a bit off-putting; as is the parallel telling of two generation's narrative. Also, I don't find that her male characters are realistically drawn, and the relationship struggles between the daughter and her significant other (at least in Ms. Tan's last two books) seem rather superficial.
These (admittedly) rather minor complaints are the only thing that keeps me from giving the book five stars.
Like Amy Tan herself, Ruth is in her forties, and the similarities do not stop there. While the book is not strictly autobiographical, there are a great many parallels between the author and Ruth. For example: both of their mothers were stricken with Altzheimers disease, and both had stormy relationships with their Chinese mothers, both of whom were suicidal.
Ruth's mother, LuLing, came from China in the late 'forties, as did Amy Tan's mother. The story is told in three parts: first is Ruth's ten-year relationship with Art and his two daughters--teenagers in the story--with whom she lives; a relationship that is in trouble for reasons that Ruth cannot determine or resolve. Art seems to be a self-centered individual who takes advantage of Ruth's tendency to always place her own interests secondary.
The second part of the story is LuLing's own story in China, which, fearing memory loss, she is writing, in Chinese calligraphy and which she eventually presents to her daughter. Ruth, because of their difficult relationship lets the manuscript gather dust for seven years, untranslated. LuLing's life story is a tale of tragedy and suffering, lost love and a tempestuous relationship with her own mother, Precious Auntie, which later--after her mother's death--haunts her.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The writing is well done by the pacing was odd. I enjoyed it, but the beginning kind of dragged my mood down. It got better once I made it through the first third of the book.Published 4 days ago by Stille20
Found it very depressing and outdated - wish the Asian & Indian writers would STOP harping on the old "social norms" and get on with the more positive aspects of their... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
The book was well written, easy to follow, and a quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even having read it for a class.Published 1 month ago by Tami Marsh
This story effortlessly and fluidly jumps from the present to the past and back again, as well as from San Francisco to China and back again as accomplished author Amy Tan tells... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Cathryn Conroy
When I picked up this book, I wasn't too interested in the relationships between Ruth, Luling, Art, and the two daughters. Read morePublished 3 months ago by LCK
Within the week I used it, my phone fell several times; the magnet is not strong enough to use with even a thin case. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeri