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I found this book extraordinary and touching. It begins in contemporary San Francisco where a 40-ish, Chinese American woman struggles to deal with her aging mother. At first the mother's fractured English and superstitions seem to make her a comic stereotype, as does her descent into senile dementia.
But, as the daughter (and the reader) read the mother's newly translated diary, this tiny Chinese woman's old world eccentricities begin to make sense in the context of the struggles and the tragedies that brought her to America where she tried to fit into a new country and a new culture.
In addition to a terrific narrative, Ms. Tan works with beautiful motifs, images and themes. The motif of writing as each successive generation takes it a step forward - from ink maker to calligrapher to author - lends this very personal story an epic touch. The symbolism of the fossilized bones of Peking Man and the treasured oracle bones adds depth.
This is the work of a wonderful author, unafraid to let her characters speak for themselves.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this book tremendously. The writing was very nuanced and descriptive which allowed for vivid images to appear in my imagination according to what was happening throughout the book. That, in my opinion, takes some great talent.
The story was very different for me as I normally go for mysteries. However, my interest never waned. I enjoyed it so much that I will probably read more of Ms. Tan's books. I would recommend this to anyone. Also, if you liked Memoirs of Geisha, I know you'll like this as well.
34 of 35 people found this review helpful