Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Title: The Bonesetter's Daughter
Author: Amy Tan

ISBN: 0-8041-1498-6
Publisher:Ballantine Books/2001
Pages: 403

The Bonesetter's Daughter is my first book by Amy Tan. I read it for Celebrate the Author challenge 2008 February read. This is about three generations. A daughter, her mother and grandmother. It has three parts, one about Ruth, the daughter, second one is about her mother LuLing and Precious Aunt, Ruth's grandmother who although dead has an impact on all their lives. We see Ruth, loving yet hating her mother. LuLing who loves Ruth and is also living in the past for her own mother, called as precious aunt. The same precious aunt, who had brought her up by becoming her nursemaid.

When LuLing suffers from Alzheimer, we see Ruth reading from pages written by her mother chronicling her life. In those pages are also some written by precious aunt.

This book covers a complex and ambiguous relationships between mothers and daughters. About secrets that can't be told but written to be passed on to daughters. This book is filled with symbols, metaphors and history which is so very complicated. Ruth's exasperation and finally acceptance of her mother's behaviour is so poignant to read.

LuLing's mother was a well read woman in that period of time when girls were forbidden to read. Her knowledge and power is well brought out. Her misfortune fills us with sadness. Slowly the story develops. Initially the book is boring but it pulls us into it in no time. And reading it, we do come back to the beginning for reference. Very fine details, haunting and so forlorn, this novel stands for so much.

I will definitely go for more Amy Tan novels. The symbolism and metaphors are worth reading, even though it gets a bit slow at places.