Another book that was recommended to me by a friend, The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan) had been on my book-radar for years but I’d never picked it up. The themes of the book appealed to me: mothers and daughters, how your birthplace and your family shapes your cultural identity, and the cultural gap between generations,. In Amy Tan’s novel, this gap is exacerbated by the emigration of the four mothers of the novel from China to America, where their daughters are raised.
The Joy Luck Club seemed more of a collection of interlinked short stories than a novel. I was reading it as an e-book, and without the physical thickness of the remaining pages to alert me that the end was near I was quite surprised to ‘turn’ the page and discover I’d reached the end of the book. Surprised and disappointed, because I was immersed in the stories of these four families and I wanted to read more.
The narrators alternate between a mother and a daughter, sometimes with both telling tales of their childhood and at other times giving different perspectives of the same event, illustrating the gulf between them. Tan’s exploration of facets of Chinese culture was fascinating to me, delicately weaved into the narrative.
I was reminded of a book I read many years ago, called Wild Swans (Jung Chang). In the weeks after reading Wild Swans I often found myself thinking of it, still immersed in the stories of the three generations of Chinese women who are its subject. Wild Swans had more impact on me than the Joy Luck Club, but perhaps this was because it was a far longer book and had the immediacy of a family history rather than a novel.