The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

About the book

LuLing Young is in her eighties, and finally beginning to feel the effects of old age. Trying to hold on to the evaporating past, she begins to write down all that she can remember of her life as a girl in China. Meanwhile, her daughter Ruth, a ghostwriter for authors of self-help books, is losing the ability to speak up for herself in front of the man she lives with. LuLing can only look on, helpless: her prickly relationship with her daughter does not make it easy to discuss such matters. In turn, Ruth has begun to suspect that something is wrong with her mother: she says so many confusing and contradictory things.

Ruth decides to move in with her ailing mother, and while tending to her discovers the story LuLing wrote in Chinese, of her tumultuous life growing up in a remote mountain village known as Immortal Heart. LuLing tells of the secrets passed along by her mute nursemaid, Precious Auntie; of a cave where dragon bones are mined and where Peking Man was discovered; of the crumbling ravine known as the End of the World, where Precious Auntie’s bones lie, and of the curse that LuLing believes she released through betrayal. Like layers of sediment being removed, each page unfolds into an even greater mystery: Who was Precious Auntie, whose suicide changed the path of LuLing’s life?

Reviewed by Godshill WI

we were evenly divided on this book. Some thought it tedious and boring – others were fascinated by the historical detail. It was agreed that the first part, in California, was too long. Also those who’d read her other books had a sense of ‘déjà vu’ The same theme was explored. All found the mother irritating – but she was supposed to be!

star rating ****

 

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The Girl who played Go by Sa Shan

About the book

the Place of a Thousand Winds, a 16 year-old Chinese girl beats all-comers at the game of go. One of her opponents is a young Japanese officer of the occupying power. As their two stories unfold, the Japanese army moves inexorably through their huge land, leaving blood and destruction in its wake.

Reviewed by Fawley Holborn U3A

We universally disliked this book – it told an emotional story on such way that the reader simply did not emphathise with the characters. It was disjointed and a rather empty piece of literature.

Star rating: *

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The Last Empress by Anchee Min

About the book

The Last Empress is a historical novel by Anchee Min that provides a sympathetic account of the life of Empress Dowager Cixi (referred to as Empress Orchid), from her rise to power as Empress Tzu-Hsi, until her death at 72 years of age. Akin to the bestselling and preceding novel in the series Empress Orchid, names within the story are different in spelling but retain the same pronunciation – allowing the reader to identify each relevant character to his or her real life counterpart.

Reviewed by  Boaters Book Club Reading Group:

The views differed totally on this book especially was it a historical book or a novel. Some found it boring, unconvincing, unfocused, repetitious and plodding. However others found it an interesting insight into the Forbidden City, its rules/protocol, the eunuchs and the historical aspects of China, also a grand effort with lots of research. All had views on the way it was written.

Star rating: *+

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The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck

About the book

When O-lan, a servant girl, marries the peasant Wang Lung, she toils tirelessly through four pregnancies for their family’s survival. Reward at first is meagre, but there is sustenance in the land – until the famine comes. Half-starved, the family joins thousands of peasants to beg on the city streets. It seems that all is lost, until O-lan’s desperate will to survive returns them home with undreamt of wealth. But they have betrayed the earth from which true wealth springs, and the family’s money breeds only mistrust, deception – and heartbreak for the woman who had saved them. THE GOOD EARTH is a riveting family saga and story of female sacrifice – a classic of twentieth-century literature.

Reviewed by The Cheerful Bags Reading Group:

We did enjoy this book very much, it was a really interesting way to understand some of the culture of China at the time, especially towards females. The manner in which it was written really conveyed Wang Lung’s innermost ‘highs and lows’ to the reader and took you along with his life story.

Star rating: ***

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