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The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
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The Joy Luck Club (original 1989; edition 2006)

by Amy Tan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,991144176 (3.87)251
Member:supranee
Title:The Joy Luck Club
Authors:Amy Tan
Info:Penguin Books (2006), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:china, historical fiction, united states

Work details

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Author) (1989)

  1. 31
    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang (Jennie_103)
    Jennie_103: Another story of generations of chinese women.
  2. 00
    Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong (Imprinted)
  3. 00
    Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West by Helen Tse (elbakerone)
  4. 00
    Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat (Othemts)
    Othemts: In a superficial way this book reminds me of the stories of Amy Tan in that they show the strains of relationships between mothers and daughters, immigrants and American-born.
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» See also 251 mentions

English (134)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (3)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Really beautifully written, the voices were clearly different. It was just hard to remember who was who- the guide at the beginning of the novel was a great reference. ( )
  srhlvn7 | Jul 5, 2016 |
I typically don't do well with books with a major cultural barrier "Things Fall Apart" created that precedent long ago. With that in mind, I had few expectations for this novel, a requirement for my current English class. I was pleasantly surprised, however.

This novel drew me- in not from the very start, but nonetheless until the very end. The intertwining plotlines were magnificently written, and the entirety kept an understandable balance of Chinese and American ways. Reading "The Joy Luck Club" was an unexpectedly eye opening experience. ( )
  sippju01 | Jun 9, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

After her mother Suyuan's death, thirty-six year old Jing-mei (June) Woo joins The Joy Luck Club. The club, which Suyuan founded in China during the war, consists of four women playing mah jong, eating good dinners, and gambling. Suyuan created the club as a way to improve the spirits of her friends during wartime. Her first husband died in the war and she was forced to abandon their twin baby daughters on the side of a road. Soon after, she met and married Canning Woo and moved to America. There, she restarted the club with three other women her age: An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong, and Ying-ying St. Clair. The four women and their daughters, who are about the same age, grow older together, and each mother/daughter relationship is full of sadness, anger and joy. June, for example, isn't sure she can replace a dead mother she hardly knew. Then she learns that her mother's other daughters have been found: they live in China, and the other women of the Joy Luck Club are sending June to meet them.

The mothers remember their childhood in China. An-mei lived with her grandmother and was forbidden to even speak her mother's name. When her mother tried to rescue her, she was sent away. Everyone tells An-mei that her mother dishonored their family by marrying again after her husband died. Still, her mother returned to nurse her own mother after she grew very sick. Lindo's marriage was arranged when she was very young. She hated the spoiled young man she was required to live with. When he wouldn't sleep with her and her mother-in-law demanded a baby, Lindo made up a story about an angry ancestor who would kill her husband if they stayed married. She was given enough money to go to America and told to keep her mouth shut about their curse. Ying-ying remembers going to a moon festival as a young girl and finding out that the magic and ceremony is often just an act.

The daughters remember growing up with Chinese mothers in California. Sometimes they felt like they weren't Chinese at all, and didn't know how to deal with the Chinese culture in their homes. Waverly was a chess champion, but she quit when she and Lindo fought and Lindo told her it was not as easy to play or not play as she believed. Now she worries that her mother will not accept her second husband. Lindo was always able to make Waverly change her mind, seeing flaws where she once saw perfection, and she doesn't want this to happen with Rich. Lena remembers her mother as a meek woman who always wondered what bad thing would happen next. She made Lena just as meek and afraid-but Lena learned from a neighbor that not every problem is the end of the world. She knows her mother can see things before they happen, so she wonders what her mother will think of her relationship with her husband: he bullies her and takes her for granted. Sure enough, Ying-ying doesn't understand Lena's life with Harold. Rose Jordan has some of the same problems with lack of confidence. Her husband asked her for a divorce recently because she could never make any decisions. Rose still feels guilty because her youngest brother died by accident when she was fourteen. She can't decide what to do about her husband. Then she realizes that her mother supports her. She sleeps for three days and then contacts her husband, telling him that she will not leave their house like he wants her to. She will fight for it. June Woo remembers that her mother was never satisfied with her: she always wanted June to be a genius, so June was determined to waste any talent she had, just to spite her mother. As an adult, June has always felt inferior to Waverly, and believed her mother thought she was as well. During new year's dinner, she got into a fight with Waverly, and afterward her mother told her that she understood her and implied that she loved her.

The mothers think about their pasts. An-mei remembers that her mother killed herself to make a better life for her children, because in a marriage with four other wives, that was the only way for her children to have any of the benefits from her rich husband (who she was forced to marry, contrary to what her family believed). Ying-ying remembers how she gave up her strength, her will, so that she would no longer be hurt when bad things happened to her. She now realizes that in doing this she has made her daughter weak as well, and resolves to teach her daughter to be strong. Lindo remembers how she came to America, and, looking at her adult daughter Waverly, she sees how similar they are-both inside and out. The book ends with June going to China to meet her half-sisters. Her father is happily reunited with his family. June is at first nervous, but when she meets first her father's family and then her sisters, she sees that part of her is Chinese after all: her blood. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
5***** and a

This was the first Amy Tan book I read and I have been a fan every since. While there is a cultural divide to Tan's writing - the Asian experience and history, even Chinese sayings - there is a universality to the way she describes the mother/daughter relationship. The early dependence, the years of bickering to develop independence, the slow realization of your mother's truth, the final respect for your mother's background, her struggles, how she came to be your mother and always will be. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 19, 2016 |
A strange book, showing the lives of four Chinese families with individual portraits of the mothers and daughters. Sixteen chapters, four sections interleaved - so rather confusing at first. It's interesting at times, about Chinese life and adapting to American culture, and there's some sadness. Yet I couldn't get emotionally involved - it was almost like linked short stories, rather than a novel. Pleasant enough, but nothing special. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
In Tan's hands, these linked stories - diverse as they are - fit almost magically into a powerfully coherent novel, whose winning combination of ingredients - immigrant experience, mother-daughter ties, Pacific Rim culture - make it a book with the ``good luck'' to be in the right place at the right time.
 
In the hands of a less talented writer such thematic material might easily have become overly didactic, and the characters might have seemed like cutouts from a Chinese-American knockoff of ''Roots.'' But in the hands of Amy Tan, who has a wonderful eye for what is telling, a fine ear for dialogue, a deep empathy for her subject matter and a guilelessly straightforward way of writing, they sing with a rare fidelity and beauty. She has written a jewel of a book.
 

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tan, AmyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother and the memory of her mother. You asked me once what I would remember. This, and much more.
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The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please don't combine with commentaries or educational adaptations
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143038095, Paperback)

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:48 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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 and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forge a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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