TITLE: The Joy Luck Club
AUTHOR: Amy Tan
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons
PUBLICATION DATE: March 22, 1989
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Classics, Cultural/China, ContemporaryISBN: 9780399134203
In 1949 four Chinese women-drawn together by the shadow of their past-begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club. Nearly forty years later, one of the members has died, and her daughter has come to take her place, only to learn of her mother's lifelong wish-and the tragic way in which it has come true.The revelation of this secret unleashes an urgent need among the women to reach back and remember…
I can’t believe this is Amy Tan’s debut novel! She hooked me from the first chapter.
This is an interesting story about four Chinese women, who are friends, and their daughters. The story opens with Jing-Mei (“June”) Woo, whose mother (Suyuan Woo) has passed away. June is meeting her mother’s three friends, the group known as The Joy Luck Club who met each week to play mahjong. We learn how Suyuan had to flee from Kweilin to Chungking ahead of the Japanese during World War II, and her mother took everything that she could carry including twin baby girls. As she grew weary, she was forced to leave things on the road including those babies!! Her mothers’ friends, her “aunties” as she affectionately refers to them, tell her that her mother tracked down her half-sisters from Kweilin and they are still alive. Her aunties have pooled their money together to buy June a ticket to travel to China, so that she can meet them.
The book continues, with each of the following three chapters devoted to the other three ladies from The Joy Luck Club. We learn about their backgrounds and what trials they’ve gone through in their lives and their own relationships with their mothers and how that shaped them. The following four chapters are devoted to each of the daughters and their relationships with their mothers, and how the influence of growing up in America has changed them and how their upbringing is so different from their own mothers. The subsequent four chapters continue with the daughters and their respective careers and relationship woes with their own spouses. It is an interesting comparison to see how like and unlike the daughters are to their own mothers. The last four chapters are again devoted to the four mothers and their involvement in their daughters’ lives, with the book finally ending with how it began with June’s anticipated trip to China.
By far, my favourite part of the book was story of Suyuan Woo. I do love how the book started and ended with her, and the story was such a heartbreaking and tragic one. I loved learning about the Chinese culture, customs, traditions, and how each of the families immigrated to the United States. With the four different families, I did find it a bit confusing and hard to keep each character's identity straight. I do appreciate that the author included a table at the beginning of the book that lists the mothers and their daughters, but I did find that I was constantly flipping back and forth to the table at the beginning of each chapter and to the “mother” chapters to refresh my memory on the details and which daughter belonged with which mother! I wish the book had been more cohesive as a whole and, for me, that made the difference between liking it and loving it. Having said that, I do enjoy Tan’s writing and plan to read more of her work.
I have requested the DVD from the library and will come back to add my thoughts on it.
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