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The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel…

The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Amy Tan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,076104919 (3.76)149
Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is being unearthed, The bonesetter's daughter is an excavation of the human spirit : the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes. The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. Over the course of one fog-shrouded year, between one season of falling stars and the next, mother and daugheter find what they share in their bones through heredity, history, and inexpressible qualities of love.… (more)
Title:The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Authors:Amy Tan
Info:Ballantine Books (2003), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan (2001)

  1. 61
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Booksloth)
  2. 20
    Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan (Booksloth)
  3. 10
    Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Bonesetter's Daughter depicts a contemporary Chinese-American woman who learns about her immigrant mother's past, while Songs of Willow Frost portrays a Chinese-American actress during the Great Depression. Both atmospheric novels explore the social and economic marginalization of women.… (more)
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    On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family by Lisa See (angela.vaughn)
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    Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (sturlington)

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» See also 149 mentions

English (97)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  All languages (103)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
In love with this book, great for a cultural book study. ( )
  NJecmenek | Nov 12, 2020 |
I read this back in 2002. Here is what I wrote in my journal back then:

>>. . .had been sitting on my shelf for a while. When I started, I had mixed feelings about the book for it was not holding my attention very much. I finished it, but I have to admit that I had to force myself to get to the end. The most interesting part of the book is the second part that tells the story of Liu, Ruth's mother, in China. The story is moving; her tribulations really were moving; you kept wondering what else could happen to this girl, plus the setting and the historical events made it interesting. I really did not want this section to end as I would go back to Ruth's setting, which seemed mostly mundane with Ruth having no backbone to stand up for herself. Ruth neuroses and constant worries at times got a bit much to bear. And while finding the grandmother's real name is a significant event, by the time the reader gets to it, I just wanted the book to be over. Also Ruth working things out with the self-centered and inconsiderate Art seemed too contrived, like the author needed a happy ending and thus Art suddenly gets a conscience. It was too convenient. She should have dumped him in spite of his offer to help with Liu. The book overall is not without merits, but I have seen some of the themes done way better by other writers. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
I think that when Amy Tan is right on she is definitely right on. A few years ago I devoured every book she had written and still have all of her books on my bookshelf. I decided to re-read "The Bonesetter's Daughter" for my Booklikes-opoly square.

The "Bonesetter's Daughter"is told as a shifting narrative of a Chines American daughter (Ruth) trying to deal with her mother (LuLing) who is starting to lose her memory due to Alzheimer's. Ruth feels frustrated trying to deal with her mother and with her relationship with her lover Art. At times Ruth becomes mute and is unable to express herself. When she finds her mother's diary she decides to have it translated and the diary allows her to really see her mother for the first time.

Ruth was a trial for me at times. Seriously. I wanted her to take a stand against her boyfriend/lover and his terrible kids. They were exhausting to even read about. But I did feel smidgens of sympathy for her here and there. Her mother's obsession with ghosts, curses, and embarrassing her as a child are definitely things that would make it hard for you to sympathize initially with LuLing until we get to her story.

I will admit that at first I didn't like LuLing until we (readers) get to read the memoirs that Ruth is having translated from what her mother wrote. You get LuLing's earlier younger voice and your heart is definitely going to break when you read about what she dealt with while living in China. It also helps Ruth better understand her mother and realize why her mother acted the way she did while she was growing up. The two women get closer towards the end of the book which did make me happy.

I have always loved Amy Tan's writing. She manages to make every sentence count and just draw you in. I felt every second of LuLing's younger voice via her diary as she remembers what her life in China was like. And also her sadness when she realizes her daughter is pulling away from her. I will say though the reason why I only gave this four stars is that the first part of the book that primarily is told from Ruth's POV was hard to get through. That's why I didn't give it 5 stars.

The setting of the book goes back and forth from San Francisco to China. The China parts of the book felt the most alive to me. Reading about LuLing living at Immortal Heart made it seem like the a stark and desolate place.

The ending was poignant but also sad. I know that this book is quite realistic with showing how Alzheimer's affects people and families, but I still wished for a different ending. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This is the first of a half dozen novels about the meaning of life, love and art – all have surfaced in my to-be-read stack in the last month. All are dazzling in their own ways.

So I’m puzzled by all the lower-than-5-star reviews for this book. Sure, I know it’s all subjective – every reader brings her own filters to each book and none of us will experience them in precisely the same way.

Still… I loved this story. Stories, really. Maybe that’s the issue. Three main characters, and it’s not clear who’s speaking at first, nor do we know for a long time exactly who ‘the bonesetter’ is, never mind the daughter. None of that bothered me. I was fascinated by the characters’ journeys, following the dozens of ways they wove in and out of their locations, their work, misery and happiness.

And going along on the journey(s)? I grew to love each of them (though I hadn’t, at first appearance).

“You can never be an artist if your work comes without effort. That is the problem with modern ink from a bottle. You do not have to think. You simply write what is swimming on the top of your brain. And the top is nothing but pond scum, dead leaves, and mosquito spawn. But when you push an inkstick along an inkstone, you take the first step to cleansing your mind and your heart. You push and you ask yourself, What are my intentions? What is in my heart that matches my mind?”

As a writer, I can’t even fathom what it takes to work out the plot lines – and emotional heartlines – of the stories, keep them all in your head or in a notebook or stickynotes on the wall, and to write so skillfully as Amy Tan has done here. And as a reader, if you like to be challenged… if you enjoy multi-generational sagas (but without too many characters to make it hard to keep track of)… then this is probably for you. It certainly was for me.
( )
  MLHart | May 22, 2020 |
Genetisch gesehen ist Ruth Young halb Chinesin, halb Amerikanerin. Doch zu der fernöstlichen Heimat ihrer Mutter LuLing, die als junge Frau nach San Francisco kam, hat Ruth keinerlei Beziehung. Denn über ihre Kindheit und Jugend in einem Dorf südlich von Peking will LuLing nicht sprechen, sondern flüchtet sich in nebulöse Andeutungen über Geister und Flüche, die auf der Familie lasten. Nach und nach gibt Ruth ihre bohrenden Fragen auf, die schon immer schwierige Beziehung zwischen Mutter und Tochter kühlt ab, bis sich beide kaum noch etwas zu sagen haben. Da wird bei LuLing beginnender Alzheimer diagnostiziert, und Ruth muss sich darüber klar werden, was mit ihrer Mutter geschehen soll. Beim Ausräumen von LuLings Wohnung stößt sie auf deren selbst verfasste Biografie und lässt sie ins Amerikanische übersetzen. Während LuLing die Gegenwart täglich mehr vergisst, erfährt Ruth die tragische Vergangenheit LuLings, die diese hinter sich lassen wollte, und die sie doch nie losließ. Und sie erkennt, wie viel sie ihrer Mutter tatsächlich bedeutet. Mütter und Töchter im Spannungsfeld zwischen Ost und West, zwischen gestern und heute: Auch Das Tuschezeichen ist eine Variation des Themas, das Autorin Amy Tan (selbst Tochter chinesischer Emigranten) bereits in ihrem Bestseller Töchter des Himmels in den Mittelpunkt stellte und auch in späteren Romanen immer wieder aufgriff. Und doch kommt das gelangweilte Gefühl, Tan schriebe nur von sich ab, nicht auf: Wieder kann man sich der Faszination ihrer Frauenfiguren kaum entziehen, begleitet sie gebannt auf der Suche nach ihren Wurzeln. Die Generations- und Kulturkonflikte chinesischer Auswanderer und ihrer Kinder -- da stecken sicher noch mehr Romane drin. --Beate Strobel
  Fredo68 | May 18, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amy Tanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abelsen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chen, JoanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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On the last day that my mother spent on earth, I learned her real name, as well at that of my grandmother. This book is dedicated to them. Li Bingzi and Gu Jingmei
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These are the things I know are true:
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is being unearthed, The bonesetter's daughter is an excavation of the human spirit : the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes. The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. Over the course of one fog-shrouded year, between one season of falling stars and the next, mother and daugheter find what they share in their bones through heredity, history, and inexpressible qualities of love.

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Synopsis for the Dutch edition:
"Wat zou er nog meer in het binnenste van de leunstoel liggen? Ze tastte rond en vond een pakket van bruin inpakpapier, omwonden met een rood kerstlint. Er zat een stapel papier in, met Chinese tekst. Sommige vellen hadden bovenaan een zwierig gekalligrafeerd karakter. Dit had ze al eens eerder gezien. Maar waar?' Als Ruth het huis van haar moeder opruimt, vindt ze een manuscript onder de zitting van een oude stoel. Haar moeder heeft nooit iets losgelaten over haar Chinese verleden, over haar voorouders en over de reden van haar plotselinge vertrek naar Amerika. Maar nu blijkt Ruth het zorgvuldig opgetekende levensverhaal van haar moeder in handen te hebben. Al lezend leert ze haar eindelijk kennen."
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