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Old China in modern US,
This review is from: The Bonesetter's Daughter (Kindle Edition)
I cannot rate this novel as highly as most reviewers. The story of three generations of Chinese or Chinese-American women allowed Tan to explore mother-daughter relationships, the importance of memory and the enduring influence of the past, which I understand are themes which pervade her writing, but I failed to find much depth of insight here. At times there was a whiff of women's magazine psychology.
The stories of Precious Auntie and Lu Ling in the China of the inter World War years and the beliefs and practices of their society were of considerable interest, though I would have appreciated rather more on the characters' attitudes to Nationalist v Communist ideologies, or their concepts of and exerience of America after emigration, however. The Chinese years, as recounted in Lu Ling's journal, were embedded within an overly long opening section detailing the minutiae of the life of youngest woman, Ruth, the tedium of which nearly made me abandon the novel, and a rathe slick closing section, where all ends (implausibly?) happily. The writing style is no better than functional. Overall, only so-so.
I would recommend Eugenia Kim's 'The Calligrapher's Daughter' as a far superior novel set in a different far Eastern society, Korea, during a similar period: more vivid characterisation and better writing.