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The Joy Luck Club (1989)

by Amy Tan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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17,639198288 (3.88)393
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.
  1. 40
    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang (Jennie_103)
    Jennie_103: Another story of generations of chinese women.
  2. 30
    The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy (laytonwoman3rd)
    laytonwoman3rd: This novel explores similar themes of the generation gap in immigrant Chinese families---the "old ways" in conflict with the new world.
  3. 10
    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.
  4. 00
    Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West by Helen Tse (elbakerone)
  5. 00
    Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong (Imprinted)
  6. 13
    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (sturlington)
1980s (23)
AP Lit (93)
Asia (93)
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» See also 393 mentions

English (184)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (3)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (197)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
Four women's lives and their daughters are the main theme of this book.The mothers all came to America leaving China for something better, their daughters fight against the old way of their mothers. The cultural divide is great and is the tension in the book. The mothers lives were shaped and formed by customs, the daughters in America want no part of that.

Four women's lives and their daughters are the main theme of this book.The mothers all came to America leaving China for something better, their daughters fight against the old way of their mothers. The cultural divide is great and is the tension in the book. The mothers lives were shaped and formed by custom, the daughters in America want no part of that. ( )
  foof2you | Feb 6, 2024 |
Previous journal entries I've made (15-17 years ago) state that this is one of my favorite books and I had, at that point, read it several times. Funny how so much life experience can make us forget so much in time. Rereading it this time around, (for the first time in 15 years, it seems) I had thought I'd only read it once before. My thoughts all throughout this reread centered on, "I had no idea this is what this book is about!"

I had thought it to be a novel with a main character, fluid plot, etc. Instead, it's a collection of short stories all with the theme of mothers and daughters and how they don't seem to really understand one another until the daughter reaches the age which she remembers her mother being. For instance, once a daughter reaches 50 years old, she can remember her mother being 50 years old, etc. I think that's why I didn't get it in the past. This is the first time reading it where I can remember back to when my mother was 44 years old. But more than that, I can better relate to my mother as a mother, a wife, a woman, and one who has experienced life. I have consciously chose to make good and bad choices, and have reaped the benefits and consequences of those choices. I have questioned my life purpose. I have questioned my choices. I have joys and regrets. 29 year old me didn't remember 29 year old mom very well---and she definitely didn't see her through adult eyes.

Now that I have a couple of grown daughters and three grown sons, I am seeing this book from both perspectives --- and I'm seeing myself in both generations represented. While the characters in the book are Chinese, these truths about women, mothers, and daughters are universal.

I think everyone reaches an age at which they worry about leaving a legacy. Olders share stories and pass down information to youngers, but if the youngers are not yet at the age to understand its importance, many things are forgotten.

There is so much lyrical language in this collection --- my book is full of writing, underlining, and tabs. (Trying to make my books more personal and myself more "relevant" by adopting this 21st c. "new trend" of annotation. haha!) At one point, one daughter is talking about piano pieces she'd begrudgingly played as a child. One was called "Pleading Child", the other was "Perfectly Contented." She says, "Pleading Child was shorter but slower; Perfectly Contented was longer, but faster. And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song." This made me think about how childhood is so short but seems to go on forever --- the child chomping at the bit to grow up. Adulthood goes on for a much longer time, but the days, months, years seem to go by faster the older one gets.

One big take away for me to remember is that you can't please unpleasable people. This reminds me not to try harder than I should to make people happy --- but also that I should try hard not to be this unpleasable person to others. ( )
  classyhomemaker | Dec 11, 2023 |
The structuring of this 'novel' intrigues me: four pairs of mother-daughter, two stories allocated to each individual, adding up to sixteen stories spread across four delineated sections. As balance is a recurring theme, I wonder whether there isn't some unstated significance to this? Each of the sixteen chapters is a wonderful whole and delicately written with its own beginning and end; any one of them could be excerpted and presented independently. The challenge lies in remembering whose daughter or mother is whose, and filtering which stories I'd already read that belonged to them. I was frequently flipping back to confirm these things, or referencing the helpful list at the front that pairs the mother-daughter sets, so I'd not recommend an e-book version.

In the first section we're providing with the background of the mothers' lives in China, with exposure to the different place and culture they grew up in, the hardships unique to those circumstances that they had to overcome - fleeing from war, or an arranged marriage, etc. In the second section we're given the childhood perspective of their daughters: children who do not know or understand this background we've been given, trying to interpret and absorb their mothers' lessons as they are growing up in America. The third section presents the daughters as adults probing in search of new adult relationships with their mothers (including my favourite chapter, "Four Directions"). The concluding section belongs again to the mothers, completing their stories by describing how they came to America. For all that the daughters feel burdened by what their mothers say, they've little idea about the weight of what has not been told.

The result is eight well-rounded characters: four who are wise with age, and four who have struggled under the shadow of that wisdom but are beginning to find their own. Four pairings that complement one another to produce a fulsome picture of Chinese immigration and integration with the West, but also a wonderful portrait of mother-daughter relationships and the handing down of knowledge and culture. ( )
  Cecrow | Oct 20, 2023 |
Reading for a second time I'm again undone by Tan's insight into the thorny details of mother/daughter relationships. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Maybe my first reading of a Chinese American writer. Enjoyable. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (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 (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tan, Amyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holt, Heleen tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lohmann, SabineTranslatorsecondary 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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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.

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