Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Original title: The Bonesetter's Daughter

Edition language: English 
Historical fiction, amy tan, china, family, mother-daughter relationship, San francisco, strong women, chinese american
ISBN: 0345457374 (ISBN13: 9780345457370) 
Other Formats :
Hardcover; Mass Market Paperback(339 pages); Kindle(370 pages), Nook, Audio CD 
Published:  February 4th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001) 
Literary awards: New York Times Notable Book
Purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble

“A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters; haunting images; historical complexity; significant contemporary themes; and suspenseful mystery.”
–Los Angeles Times

“For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down–by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Tan at her best . . . rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

A great read! The mother-daughter relationships spanning over three generations was done so authentically it is hard to believe that Amy Tan was not there herself in each generation living those lives in all the different scenes/eras of the book.

"Things I must not forget" - is the first line of some Chinese writings which her mother handed to her and which she managed to translate.

Her mother, Luling, was in the early stages of Alzheimers, which forced Ruth (or Lootie as her mother pronounced her name), to finally get someone to translate the rest of the papers. Ruth had a need to understand her mother's behaviour and thoughts better.

The book often had too many 'page-filler' detail in. You know, those paragraphs and paragraphs of words, which the reader has to skip here and there to continue the story, but it was written so beautifully, and so detailed, with so much suspense, that I just couldn't put it down.

After discovering her mother and grandmother's remarkable life stories hidden in the old Laz-y-Boy chair, Ruth could finally understand herself better, although it was unintended. But she first had to relive two other lives through her mother's meticulous writings to reach a point where she connect all the dots in her own personal relationship-issues with the people around her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Excellent read. Amy Tan is not one of those authors who can be put down easily. And to really enjoy her writing style the most, one must make time to sit back and start one of her stories and stay with it right through to the end. It is worth it.


Amy Tan was born February 19, 1952 in Oakland, California. Her childhood was spent in several Northern California communities, before settling in Santa Clara. Her father, John Tan, and her mother, Daisy (née Li), were both  Chinese immigrants. Her father, John Tan, was an electrical engineer and Baptist minister who came to America to escape the turmoil of the Chinese Civil War. 

Her mother divorced and abusive husband in China, causing her to lose custody over her first three daughters, when she had to flee on the last boat leaving Shangai during the Communist takeover in 1949.  She married John and had three more children, Amy, the second child, and two brothers.

When John suddenly passed away due to a brain tumor, Daisy relocated to Montreux, Switzerland, where Amy finished high school. She received her master's degree in Linguistics from San Jose State University.

Amy Tan is an international bestselling author. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages. For her first book, The Joy Luck Club,  Amy Tan won The National Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Award in 1989. 

Amy Tan writes mainly about mother-daughter relationships and did not always have a good relationship with her mother. Yet she addresses the issues with much empathy, trying to understand her own relationship with her mother.

  • The Joy Luck Club (1987)became a commercially successful film(2006)
  • The Kitchen God's Wife (1991) -  based on her mother's life in China
  • The Hundred Secret Senses (1995)
  • The Bonesetter's Daughter (2000)
  • Saving Fish from Drowning (2005)
  • Rules for Virgins (2011)
  • The Valley of Amazement (2013)
  • Children's book: The Moon Lady, illustrated by Gretchen Schields (1992)
  • Children's book: Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, illustrated by Gretchen Schields (1994)
  •  - which was turned into an animated series, airing on PBS.
  • Non-fiction: Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America With
    Three Cords and an Attitude
    (with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Barbara Kingsolver) (1994)
  • Non-fiction: Mother (with Maya Angelou, Mary Higgins Clark) (1996)
  • Non-fiction: The Best American Short Stories 1999 (Editor, with Katrina Kenison) (1999)
  • Non-fiction: The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings (G. P. Putnam's Sons, (2003) - autobiographical essay
  • Upcoming fiction:  The Memory of Desirewill be released Fall 2016
  • Upcoming fiction: As yet untitled collection of essays on her life as author scheduled for publication in Fall 2014
She has been married for the past twenty-some years to Lou DeMattei, a tax attorney, whom she met on a blind date in 1974. They live in San Francisco and New York.

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