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The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

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:smile: Welcome everyone to the September Reading Circle for The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan :smile:

 ** It is assumed that you have read the book before reading posts in this thread, as the discussion might give away crucial points, and the continuous use of spoiler tags might hinder fluent reading of posts **

Synopsis: The Joy Luck Club was formed of four Chinese women recently moved to San Francisco who meet to eat dim sum, play mah-jong and to share stories. Forty years on they and their daughters tell wise and witty tales of hope, loss, family and history. Spanning pre-Revolutionary China to 1980s San Francisco, the women talk as secrets are spilled, mothers boast and despair and daughters struggle with tangled truths.


Here are some basic questions but feel free to write your thoughts down in whichever way you prefer.

1- Who was your favourite character?
2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?
3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author/has it encouraged you to read more?
4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?
5- Did you enjoy the shared narration?

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

7- Why do you think the mothers felt that it was important to relate their histories?

8- Did the daughters benefit from learning about their heritage?

9- Overall was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

10- Would you recommend the book and if so to whom?

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I must admit :blush2: I haven't quite finished it :blush2: so cannot attempt the questions just yet but I'm almost there so will be back soon to waffle on in the usual style :D

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Hellooo! I must confess, too, that I haven't read the book yet :blush: I'm still in the middle of Inkspell but I should be able to finish that soon. I took a look at my own Finnish copy of TJLC, and it looked awful, so today, during lunch, I nipped into the uni library and got an English copy, and the original is so much better, it seems very readable! :smile2: I'll be back soon!

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 I nipped into the uni library and got an English copy, and the original is so much better, it seems very readable! :smile2: I'll be back soon!

woohoo!!  .. good ole uni library :) Look forward to seeing what you make of it frankie :)

 

I have finished now :readingtwo:  :D .. just need to get my thoughts in shape (maybe send them on a five mile jog :D)  

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1- Who was your favourite character?

I didn't really have one, I enjoyed reading about Waverley from her own point of view but when anyone else talked about her she seemed horrid :D On balance I liked reading Jing-Mei Woo's story the most.  
 2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

I found reading the daughter's stories easier but the mothers were often more funny. I liked their sayings and thought processes and the way they used stories and folklore to relate their past.

'I asked her, "Ma, what is Chinese torture?" My mother shook her head. A bobby pin was wedged between her lips. She wetted her palm and smoothed the hair above my ear, then pushed the pin in so that it nicked sharply against my scalp. "Who say this word?" she asked without a trace of knowing how wicked I was being. I shrugged my shoulders and said "some boy in my class said Chinese people do Chinese torture." "Chinese people do many things," she said simply "Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Nor lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture." 

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author/has it encouraged you to read more?

This is the first book of Amy's I've read but I would like to try more - The Bonesetter's Daughter and The Hundred Secret Senses in particular.
4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

Not really .. the only problem I had was with keeping up with who was who. Also, though it entertained me no end, I'm glad my mum hasn't come around all my houses re-arranging things or telling me that my bathroom is leaking energy or my flow of Chi is all wrong .. moving into a new home is stressful enough without any of that. Some of the Chinese customs and rituals seemed incredibly challenging .. there seemed to be a right and wrong way of doing everything. 
5- Did you enjoy the shared narration?

I didn't mind too much but would have preferred a more straightforward telling of the story .. I got confused a lot.

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

Not particularly .. I struggled every time to remember which mum went with which daughter and had to do a lot of referring back. By the end I was getting there but for the first three quarters I was all at sea and the names at the beginning of each chapter didn't trigger any remembrances  :blush2: (except for perhaps Waverley) it always took me a couple of pages to recall them and their backstory. At the end of the book I felt I should re-read it straight away .. to understand the earlier chapters better. 

7- Why do you think the mothers felt that it was important to relate their histories?

On the one hand the mothers wanted their daughters to experience a better life in a free country but on the other they didn't want them to forget their roots. 'I wanted my children to have the best combination. American circumstances and Chinese character.'

8- Did the daughters benefit from learning about their heritage?

Yes, it's always good to know your beginnings. It didn't prevent the daughters from making mistakes etc but it gave them a truer sense of self. I liked how emotional Jing was when she travelled to China with her father .. the sight of the canals and fields and the people working in them brought tears to her eyes .. it felt like a memory to her but she'd never been before.

9- Overall was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

I did enjoy it though it wasn't a relaxing book .. you had to concentrate and I'm not always good at that.

10- Would you recommend the book and if so to whom?

I'm not sure .. I think I would but only if it was relevant to the particular book discussion. 

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1- Who was your favourite character?
 

Like Poppyshake, I didn't really have a favourite, although I liked the stories of Ying-Ying best.


2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

 

No, I enjoyed the whole book really.  The thing I liked most was thinking about the mothers' stories and comparing them to life nowadays in the West.

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author/has it encouraged you to read more?


I'm not that sure what genre it was!  I know it had come up in a search for food-related fiction, but there wasn't as much of that as I had expected.  I would probably pick up a book by Amy Tan to glance through and see if it appealed to me now, whereas before I would have been unlikely to have looked at them at all.

 

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?
 

I had trouble keeping track of who was who too, and actually didn't really bother, just enjoyed the stories as I came to them :blush2:  If I read the book again (which I might well do, because I did enjoy it) I would make more effort to sort out which mother belonged to which daughter.


5- Did you enjoy the shared narration?

 

I did actually enjoy the different voices telling their stories, even though I did get confused.

 

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

 

No, definitely not!  I was just being lazy, though, as there was actually a list at the start of the book, I had just decided to go with the flow of it all.

 

7- Why do you think the mothers felt that it was important to relate their histories?

 

I think that when their daughters were growing up into lives that were so drastically different from the mothers, it would be natural to want them to know what things had been like for their mothers, and not that long ago.

 

8- Did the daughters benefit from learning about their heritage?

 

Apart from Jing-Mei, who actually travelled to China and connected with her heritage, I'm not sure whether they did.

 

9- Overall was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Yes, I found it easy to read and enjoyed reading about a culture so different from my own.

 

10- Would you recommend the book and if so to whom?

 

Yes, I would recommend it to anyone who reads a wide range of fiction.  Someone who is used to reading just one type of book might find it a bit more difficult I think.

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3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author/has it encouraged you to read more?

 

I'm not that sure what genre it was! I know it had come up in a search for food-related fiction, but there wasn't as much of that as I had expected. I would probably pick up a book by Amy Tan to glance through and see if it appealed to me now, whereas before I would have been unlikely to have looked at them at all.

I had totally forgotten about the food theme :giggle2: You're right .. there wasn't much of it but what there was I enjoyed .. it was another way for the mum's to keep their chinese traditions alive .. I'm not sure about cutting your own flesh and putting it in the soup to try and heal a loved one though :o I think I'd rather rely on aspirin and the care of a good doctor :D 

 

4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

I had trouble keeping track of who was who too, and actually didn't really bother, just enjoyed the stories as I came to them :blush2: If I read the book again (which I might well do, because I did enjoy it) I would make more effort to sort out which mother belonged to which daughter.

 

5- Did you enjoy the shared narration?

 

I did actually enjoy the different voices telling their stories, even though I did get confused.

 

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

 

No, definitely not! I was just being lazy, though, as there was actually a list at the start of the book, I had just decided to go with the flow of it all.

 

It wasn't easy to keep hold of all the threads though was it? I didn't refer back to the list much either  :blush2:  and when I did it really didn't help me much because the names themselves didn't jog my memory enough. I had to wait until something relevant was mentioned (like Waverley's chess tournaments) .. and then I knew where I was.

 

9- Overall was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Yes, I found it easy to read and enjoyed reading about a culture so different from my own.

 

10- Would you recommend the book and if so to whom?

 

Yes, I would recommend it to anyone who reads a wide range of fiction. Someone who is used to reading just one type of book might find it a bit more difficult I think.

 

Glad you enjoyed reading it Oosh :) It was fascinating to read about all the chinese customs and traditions .. like you say so different from our own.

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Oh my, I had forgotten about the flesh healing thing :o   I'm all for other countries' traditions but, yes, a nice aspirin sounds good...
 

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Hello all, I am new to this discussion site and managed to find this months book in a charity shop. I really enjoyed it. I don't think the book would have appealed from the blurb on the back as I thought a mother/daughter group sounded a little chick lit. I associated it with something like "Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons" which I found rather a shallow read. However I couldn't put this down. I loved the different narratives.

Although I found keeping track of who was who quite difficult, I did find that I read the book more as a series of short stories with a general theme of the mother/daughter relationship. I found it interesting that the relationships also had the East/West and rural/urban themes. The stories of China were like magical morality tales or fables and I found them really quite beautiful and strange and somethimes quite funny. I agree with what someone else said about Waverley, she seemed to stand out for me and I think that was to do with the difference in opinion other characters had about her, she seemed to have something a little wicked about her!

Aside from the story, my paperback had a lovely floppy feel to it. The paper felt really nice and was a pleasant read physically. I must admit to being a bit of a book sniffing geek so these things really change my reading experience!. It's never quite the same on my eReader and I really dislike books with large typeface (maybe that will change as I get older!!!) Is it just me or do other people get put off by the feel or look of a book?

:blush2:

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Hi Betty :welcome2: You're right, it is like a series of connected short stories ... which is something I wasn't expecting when I began. I liked the magical realism of the mother's stories too .. I never knew quite what to believe but it was totally transfixing. Also, as you say, often funny. I never knew how to take Waverley .. when she wrote from her own perspective (or when her mother wrote about her.) I liked her and could relate to her story .. but then in came the comments from the others and I thought perhaps I had her pegged wrong. She was one of the few that I could clearly keep hold of though.

 

Oh rest assured, you're amongst fellow book sniffing geeks here :D I have an eReader too but have struggled to read anything on it .. it's just not the same. Typefaces and paper and all that sort of thing are important to me .. some books are such a slog just because of the typeface (or .. worst of all .. because they're hardbacks .. I only read them at gunpoint :):D)

My copy was lovely and soft too and it smelt right :blush2: 

Thanks for your comments .. so glad you could join in :friends0: 

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Phew that's a relief! I guessed you would be fellow sniffers!.

I don't know which reader you have but if it supports epub such as the Sony (other eReaders are available) such as I have, I can now loan books from my local library online. I have a pin related to my library card number (I am in the UK but many USA libraries also participate) Good for reading up to date books. Sorry I went OT but wanted to thank you for the welcome. :smile:

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I have the Kindle .. I have no idea if I can borrow books from the library on it but then I'm always having to renew which would probably be worse if the actual copy wasn't nagging me from the bedside table :D I have about six books on the Kindle (but then two of them are 'the complete works of ..' so many more). I've read small bits and pieces but can't settle to reading anything longer .. but my Kindle is the larger 8.5 version and it's not comfy to hold (though it has a stand).

Never worry about going OT with me .. I am the worst offender :D

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:lurker:  I haven't yet finished the book, I'm only 64 pages in :lurker:  But I wanted to comment: when this was chosen as the RC book, I fished out my Finnish copy, and leafed through the first few pages and found that the translation wasn't good at all. Or maybe it was okay but I didn't like it at all. I knew I had to try the English original. I found a copy at the uni library, thankfully! I love the story so far, but I hate the edition :D It a Cambridge Literature series copy, the paper is just terrible and it does look like a text book :rolleyes: As for what's inside...

 

Contents. Intro to Cambridge Literature series. Introduction to the book. And a family tree. And then we get to the story.

 

At the back we have resource notes. Who has written TJLC and why! :o 'Activity: starting a writing group: While reading this novel, set up your own writing group.' 

 

Does an RC count? :lol:

 

What type of text is TJLC. We're given the historical background. Maps. Immigration.

 

How was TJLC produced?

 

And on and on... :D If I disliked the book, I could just read everything at the back (like a lazy student) and get the answers from there. Luckily I'm enjoying the book... :lol:

 

Carry on! I'll be back later, and then I'll have the chance to read your thoughts on it, too! :)

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Now .. I wish I had had that book frankie ;) I could've asked all the right questions :D (but then the questions seem to be more about the writing and publication than the story?) Sorry you're not liking the edition but glad you're enjoying the story so far .. hope it continues. Looking forward to reading your thoughts :)

 

Who has written TJLC and why? ... well Amy Tan did and I guess it was because she's a writer and therefore she wrote :D 

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Now .. I wish I had had that book frankie ;) I could've asked all the right questions :D (but then the questions seem to be more about the writing and publication than the story?)

 

There were more, I only scratched the surface by providing those ones :) I wasn't up to typing it all up :D But if you wan't, I can PM you the questions :D

 

Sorry you're not liking the edition but glad you're enjoying the story so far .. hope it continues. Looking forward to reading your thoughts :)

 

Who has written TJLC and why? ... well Amy Tan did and I guess it was because she's a writer and therefore she wrote :D 

 

:D Damn! I would've never guessed. I'm a bad student :giggle:

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 But if you wan't, I can PM you the questions :D

:D Just go ahead and ask them if you think any might be interesting to explore :)

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I'm very sorry to be late for this, but my mojo was gone last month because of personal reasons. I'll first write my own answers to the questions and then see what you others have said, so as to not let your opinions affect mine. I'm so easily led :D

 

Seems like copy+pasting poppyshake's questions has changed the font, but I'll go with it for a bit of change :D

 

1- Who was your favourite character?

 

Oh dear, the first one's a tough one already! I have to say I don't think I have any favorites. It was difficult getting to know individual people because of the structure of the novel. I'm not saying Jing-mei's my favorite, but at least she was the one who I immediate remembered as a person, because she started the narration. She was my anchor in the story :D

 

For some reason all the negative traits of the mothers outweighed the positives so I dont' have a favorite among them... Maybe that's because I'm a daughter, I'm not a mother myself, and I could relate to the daughters so well.

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

 

I don't have any clear favorites, but there were some bits I enjoyed more than others. I found Lindo Jong's (Auntie Lin) story, The Red Candle story very intriguing, and I could only applaud her wit and cleverness, plotting her way out of a marriage. And for some odd reason I enjoyed reading about Lena and Rose's respective plans to divorce. Maybe because divorce was not something done in China and it was really interesting to see how they would tell about their plans to their mothers and how they would react.

 

(And Waverly had also divorced? It struck me at one point of the novel: 3 of the 4 daughters had either divorced or were about to get divorced. Why so many?)

 

I also enjoyed the part where Jing-mei went to China to visit her sisters :)

3- Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author/has it encouraged you to read more?

 

I don't think I've read many books about Chinese immigrants or Chinese-Americans... Although now that I said that, I feel like I should remember a book or two.. Anyhow, it was very refreshing, being something I don't usually read. I immediately thought I must read more books like this. I loved it how the mothers were always imparting wisdom, and then again I would cringe with the daughters when they had a difficult time with their mothers. It's such a different culture, both in good and bad.

 

Previously I've read The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan, I mean I didn't finish it, I had maybe 30 pages left when I put the book down (I cannot remember for the life of me why, because I was loving the book). The book was very, very engaging and it made me want to read anything Tan's ever written :) The Joy Luck Club wasn't perhaps as readable as I'd thought. I'd thought that the daughters were more Americanized, and I guess I'd thought they would still be teenagers, living with their parents. But I still enjoyed reading the book, and I'm definitely going to read more by Tan :)
 


4- Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

In the story itself, no.

5- Did you enjoy the shared narration?

 


I'm going to be brutally honest and say no. I did like it that we got to hear the different voices of the women, but I struggled with the narration. I still can't remember who was whose daughter and which Auntie had this and that happen to her. It was like a puzzle I've not managed to put together. Very discouraging.

 

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

 

I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you mean did I find it easy to see how the mother's story and what her life had been like in China is related to what her daughter is now experiencing as Chinese-American...? 

 

Although whatever you meant by the question, I would probably have to say no :blush: Like I said earlier, I'm still struggling with the characters.

 


7- Why do you think the mothers felt that it was important to relate their histories?

 

I think they wanted their daughters to know where they come from. To respect their heritage. And also maybe to sort of tell them why they (the mothers) are the way they are. And also possibly maybe to teach their children to strive for better things for themselves.


8- Did the daughters benefit from learning about their heritage?

 

I'm not sure if it affected their lives in the future in any ways, but at least I think some of them grew to understand their mother a bit better. Which is always a good thing for a parent and a child.


9- Overall was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

 

Yes. Although I have to say that if Tan uses this kind of narration in all her books, I might give them a pass :blush:

 

 

10- Would you recommend the book and if so to whom?

 

I think I would recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the Chinese and Chinese-American culture. And people who want to read about mother-daughter relationships.

 

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:D Just go ahead and ask them if you think any might be interesting to explore :)

 

Sorry I missed this earlier, but I just had a check and the section of the questions and info is like 50 pages long :D It's not a straightforward list of questions, the editor or whoever answers the questions himself in between and talks about all kinds of related stuff.

 

1- Who was your favourite character?

I didn't really have one, I enjoyed reading about Waverley from her own point of view but when anyone else talked about her she seemed horrid :D On balance I liked reading Jing-Mei Woo's story the most.  

 

That's a good point, I didn't realise that before! When Waverly talked about Rich and Shoshana, she seemed like such a nice, normal person, but then when others were talking about her, she came off like a bit of a biatch :giggle2:

 

I fell in love with her name, though. If I should ever, by some wicked twist of fate, which I don't even believe in (:D), should have a child with an English speaking person and lived in an English speaking country, I would think about naming my daughter Waverly. So pretty! :wub:

 

2- Was there a particular part you enjoyed more than the rest?

I found reading the daughter's stories easier but the mothers were often more funny. I liked their sayings and thought processes and the way they used stories and folklore to relate their past.

 

I agree, I loved all the different sayings and pieces of wisdom and everything. It was so detailed and interesting and curious!!

 

'I asked her, "Ma, what is Chinese torture?" My mother shook her head. A bobby pin was wedged between her lips. She wetted her palm and smoothed the hair above my ear, then pushed the pin in so that it nicked sharply against my scalp. "Who say this word?" she asked without a trace of knowing how wicked I was being. I shrugged my shoulders and said "some boy in my class said Chinese people do Chinese torture." "Chinese people do many things," she said simply "Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Nor lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture." 

 

:D I remember this, I laughed so hard when I read this, and actually had to write it down in my notebook :D 'We do torture. Best torture.' :D

 

Who talks about torture in such a btw type of manner, taking pride in doing the best torture, and to a child, at that :D

 

6- Did you find it easy to connect the mother's stories with the daughter's?

Not particularly .. I struggled every time to remember which mum went with which daughter and had to do a lot of referring back. By the end I was getting there but for the first three quarters I was all at sea and the names at the beginning of each chapter didn't trigger any remembrances  :blush2: (except for perhaps Waverley) it always took me a couple of pages to recall them and their backstory. At the end of the book I felt I should re-read it straight away .. to understand the earlier chapters better. 

 

It wasn't any easier eventhough I took notes! :doh::blush2:  At the beginning of each chapter, I would write down the name of who's now telling her story, and I would go back and check who's daughter or which mother this was, and I would also go back and see which stories had been told about this person before, but I was still very confused.

 

 

I'm not that sure what genre it was!  I know it had come up in a search for food-related fiction, but there wasn't as much of that as I had expected.  I would probably pick up a book by Amy Tan to glance through and see if it appealed to me now, whereas before I would have been unlikely to have looked at them at all.

 

I usually don't pay much attention to the food in books, unless it's something I'm familiar with, or something which I've been wanting to try for a long time, so I was worried I would miss all the food parts. But maybe because I was so worried about it, I would notice them all and I actually thought that a lot of food was discussed and cooked in the food. It really made me in the mood for some Chinese :D

 

They had such different customs to food and table manners... The hostess would complain about the food she's made, but the guests were to then taste it and praise it (something Rich didn't do! with the soy sauce... :D). And you were to take seconds and thirds and fourths. And Rich was rude when he had two full glasses of wine, when others had only had a tiny bit, just for taste (and they didn't even appreciate getting the bottle of wine to begin with).

 

And when Waverly's mother wasn't at all interested in hearing about Rich, Waverly took him to eat at some auntie's house, and then sent a thank you note saying Rich thought it was the best Chinese he'd ever had. Which the auntie bragged about to Waverly's mother, who would then of course want to beat this Auntie's cooking skills and invited them over for dinner :D

 

"I knew she would do this, because cooking was how my mother expressed her love, her pride, her power, her proof that she knew more than Auntie Su."

 

And this is what Jing-mei Woo once said:

 

"That's the way Chinese mothers show their love their children, not through hugs and kisses but with stern offerings of steamed dumplings, duck's gizzards, and crab."

 

And Lena's mother (Ying-Ying) one day looked at Lena's rice bowl when Lena was 8, and told her that Lena would marry a bad man.

 

 

I had totally forgotten about the food theme :giggle2: You're right .. there wasn't much of it but what there was I enjoyed .. it was another way for the mum's to keep their chinese traditions alive .. I'm not sure about cutting your own flesh and putting it in the soup to try and heal a loved one though :o I think I'd rather rely on aspirin and the care of a good doctor :D 

 

:D I was sure someone would mention this in connection to the food them... :giggle2:

 

 

Hello all, I am new to this discussion site and managed to find this months book in a charity shop. I really enjoyed it. I don't think the book would have appealed from the blurb on the back as I thought a mother/daughter group sounded a little chick lit. I associated it with something like "Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons" which I found rather a shallow read. However I couldn't put this down. I loved the different narratives.

Although I found keeping track of who was who quite difficult, I did find that I read the book more as a series of short stories with a general theme of the mother/daughter relationship. I found it interesting that the relationships also had the East/West and rural/urban themes. The stories of China were like magical morality tales or fables and I found them really quite beautiful and strange and somethimes quite funny. I agree with what someone else said about Waverley, she seemed to stand out for me and I think that was to do with the difference in opinion other characters had about her, she seemed to have something a little wicked about her!

Aside from the story, my paperback had a lovely floppy feel to it. The paper felt really nice and was a pleasant read physically. I must admit to being a bit of a book sniffing geek so these things really change my reading experience!. It's never quite the same on my eReader and I really dislike books with large typeface (maybe that will change as I get older!!!) Is it just me or do other people get put off by the feel or look of a book?

:blush2:

 

Hey Betty1997, glad you joined the discussion! And don't worry, most of us like to sniff our books (although not all of us would admit to it :giggle:) and some even confess to licking them books :D

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I'm copying here an interesting thing from the 'Resource Notes' section at the back of my copy (Cambridge Literature series, notes by Cambridge University Press 1995)

 

"[Tan] has said of herself as a teenager that she wanted to conform to American culture: 'I even considered changing my looks with plastic surgery. I used to think I had come down the wrong chute, out of the wrong womb. I was supposed to have been born into a nice Caucasian family on the East Coast.' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, in an article in Vogue in March 1994, noted that: 'The only literature in the house when Amy was growing up were bibles in a multitude of different languages, an encyclopedia and some Reader's Digest condensed books. In her teens, she became a voracious reader of fiction, but it was to be another twenty years before she dared to think of herself as a writer'"

Edited by frankie

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That's a good point, I didn't realise that before! When Waverly talked about Rich and Shoshana, she seemed like such a nice, normal person, but then when others were talking about her, she came off like a bit of a biatch :giggle2:

At first I wasn't sure but then it was repeated in several narratives. I still think her story was one of the most memorable though. Also it was another reminder of how narrators are not always to be trusted. I hated it when she was mocking Jing-mei at the table in front of everyone and saying that the standard of her work was unacceptable (after praising it earlier) and all because Jing-mei had enquired about payment.

I fell in love with her name, though. If I should ever, by some wicked twist of fate, which I don't even believe in ( :D), should have a child with an English speaking person and lived in an English speaking country, I would think about naming my daughter Waverly. So pretty! :wub:

It's good to be prepared :D .. a very pretty name indeed :smile:

I agree, I loved all the different sayings and pieces of wisdom and everything. It was so detailed and interesting and curious!!

I could have done with even more .. except I didn't enjoy it being hacked about so much. Just as I got into the swing of all the mysticism we were back with the daughters. Though it was interesting hearing about all the different characters .. it would've been even better, imo, if Amy had concentrated on one mother and daughter and explored it in more detail (I feel sure I could have kept track of them :D) I felt we were only scratching the surface.

:D I remember this, I laughed so hard when I read this, and actually had to write it down in my notebook :D 'We do torture. Best torture.' :D

Made me laugh lots :giggle:

Who talks about torture in such a btw type of manner, taking pride in doing the best torture, and to a child, at that :D

I know .. I felt guilty for laughing actually because of China's terrible human rights record but it was just the way she came out and said it. And for a while you thought she was going to vehemently deny it.

It wasn't any easier eventhough I took notes! :doh::blush2:  At the beginning of each chapter, I would write down the name of who's now telling her story, and I would go back and check who's daughter or which mother this was, and I would also go back and see which stories had been told about this person before, but I was still very confused.

I did that too and it made it seem quite disjointed and I wasn't happy about all the to-ing and fro-ing .. it interrupted the flow.

I usually don't pay much attention to the food in books, unless it's something I'm familiar with, or something which I've been wanting to try for a long time, so I was worried I would miss all the food parts. But maybe because I was so worried about it, I would notice them all and I actually thought that a lot of food was discussed and cooked in the food. It really made me in the mood for some Chinese :D

Gosh yes .. most of the food described sounded delicious.

They had such different customs to food and table manners... The hostess would complain about the food she's made, but the guests were to then taste it and praise it (something Rich didn't do! with the soy sauce... :D). And you were to take seconds and thirds and fourths. And Rich was rude when he had two full glasses of wine, when others had only had a tiny bit, just for taste (and they didn't even appreciate getting the bottle of wine to begin with).

So many rituals about eating .. all that stuff about the eleven crabs where one was bought that wasn't perfect and nobody would touch it .. except the daughter .. Jing-mei .. who thought she'd better take it only for her mother .. Suyuan .. to insist that she take the better one .. and then Suyuan took it to the kitchen and got rid of it .. and came back with seasonings to distract attention.

And when Waverly's mother wasn't at all interested in hearing about Rich, Waverly took him to eat at some auntie's house, and then sent a thank you note saying Rich thought it was the best Chinese he'd ever had. Which the auntie bragged about to Waverly's mother, who would then of course want to beat this Auntie's cooking skills and invited them over for dinner :D

Haha .. they were ultra competitive weren't they?

 

And Lena's mother (Ying-Ying) one day looked at Lena's rice bowl when Lena was 8, and told her that Lena would marry a bad man.

Can your mum do this? .. for instance can she tell things from the shape your foot leaves in one of her beautiful socks? :D 

 

 

 

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I'm copying here an interesting thing from the 'Resource Notes' section at the back of my copy (Cambridge Literature series, notes by Cambridge University Press 1995)

 

"[Tan] has said of herself as a teenager that she wanted to conform to American culture: 'I even considered changing my looks with plastic surgery. I used to think I had come down the wrong chute, out of the wrong womb. I was supposed to have been born into a nice Caucasian family on the East Coast.' Lucy Hughes-Hallett, in an article in Vogue in March 1994, noted that: 'The only literature in the house when Amy was growing up were bibles in a multitude of different languages, an encyclopedia and some Reader's Digest condensed books. In her teens, she became a voracious reader of fiction, but it was to be another twenty years before she dared to think of herself as a writer'"

That is interesting. It must be difficult feeling like an outsider in the country you're born in. It sounds like books came to her rescue .. yay!! good old books :smile: I'm glad she revised her ideas about changing her looks with plastic surgery. It's nice to be an individual but it's hard to see that when you're young and wanting to fit in. I believe she travelled to China too to meet her half sisters .. how amazing.

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At first I wasn't sure but then it was repeated in several narratives. I still think her story was one of the most memorable though. Also it was another reminder of how narrators are not always to be trusted. I hated it when she was mocking Jing-mei at the table in front of everyone and saying that the standard of her work was unacceptable (after praising it earlier) and all because Jing-mei had enquired about payment.

It's good to be prepared :D .. a very pretty name indeed :smile:

 

You're right, we can't always trust the narrators. I love that technique in books but I also hate it because I'm so gullible :D

 

I agree, Waverly should've taken Jing-mei aside to tell her what was really the state of things. Or she could've told her loads earlier, to avoid this confrontation. But I have to say, maybe she didn't want to hurt Jing-mei's feeling by telling her her work wasn't up to their standards.

 

And I have to say, Jing-mei was really pushing it, she asked her how a big accounting (?) company could not afford to pay the bills or be on time, and she was really mean about it, and wouldn't let go, so I kind of understand why Waverly told her her work was crap.

 

I don't know why I'm now defending Waverly.... Who was Waverly's Mum? Lemme check... Ah yes, Auntie Lin. I had a theory (something I just came up with) and while Lindo being her Mum doesn't prove my theory, it now has a basis one can either accept or not.

 

In the beginning of the novel we were told that Auntie Lin was Suyan's best friend (and biggest enemy). They would love each other, but always compete in everything. This is shown (for example) when Waverly took Rich to eat at Auntie Su's, and Lin then had to invite them over to make a better dinner.

 

Now. We know Auntie Lin and Auntie Su are rivals, and competitors at heart. I'm sure they talked about their rival to their children and whenever the four met, the mothers would compete whose child was doing better (we have a few examples of this in the book). I bet this all rubbed off on the daughters. It's something they learnt from their Mums. Unfortunately!

 

Of course, when one has grown up, one can always re-assess one's traits and qualities and decide whether to stick with some of the nastier traits... They can't blame their mothers when they are older. They're now responsible for their own actions.

 

I could have done with even more .. except I didn't enjoy it being hacked about so much. Just as I got into the swing of all the mysticism we were back with the daughters. Though it was interesting hearing about all the different characters .. it would've been even better, imo, if Amy had concentrated on one mother and daughter and explored it in more detail (I feel sure I could have kept track of them :D) I felt we were only scratching the surface.

 

I agree, I could've had more of it. I felt like writing all the sayings and teachings down... But I was writing so much down already, just to keep up with who's who :D This is partly why I'm looking forward to Tan's other books. I hope to learn more :)

 

 

Made me laugh lots :giggle:

I know .. I felt guilty for laughing actually because of China's terrible human rights record but it was just the way she came out and said it. And for a while you thought she was going to vehemently deny it.

 

I know, it was horrible but I couldn't help but laugh! And yes, one would've assumed she demand to know who said it and then tell her kid to tell that person they were liars etc., or something. Not agree to doing good, nay, best torture :lol:

 

So many rituals about eating .. all that stuff about the eleven crabs where one was bought that wasn't perfect and nobody would touch it .. except the daughter .. Jing-mei .. who thought she'd better take it only for her mother .. Suyuan .. to insist that she take the better one .. and then Suyuan took it to the kitchen and got rid of it .. and came back with seasonings to distract attention.

 

Yes, the poor crab with the unattached leg... When Jing-mei asked about the crab, her mother said everyone else was concerned only with getting the best crab for their family and themselves. And you, Jing-mei, didn't think of yourself but another person. And that's why you won't make it in the world. Well, she didn't use those words. But it was something along those lines. I should probably check.

 

I think what Jing-mei did was so nice and considerate. And I was so disappointed when her mother found fault in that.

 

Can your mum do this? .. for instance can she tell things from the shape your foot leaves in one of her beautiful socks? :D

 

I'm pretty sure she can't... And I wouldn't let her, either :D

 

 

That is interesting. It must be difficult feeling like an outsider in the country you're born in. It sounds like books came to her rescue .. yay!! good old books :smile: I'm glad she revised her ideas about changing her looks with plastic surgery. It's nice to be an individual but it's hard to see that when you're young and wanting to fit in. I believe she travelled to China too to meet her half sisters .. how amazing.

 

It must be really difficult. Not being fully accepted by Americans, and not being fully accepted by Chinese. It's like you don't really belong anywhere. You can only find common ground with other Chinese-Americans.

 

It's difficult when you are a kid/teenager. You want nothing more than to blend in. At any cost. It isn't until years later when you really only want to be yourself, no matter what everyone else is. I think Amy Tan is really beautiful and I'm happy she didn't do anything to her looks.

 

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