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Amy Tan

The Bonesetter's Daughter : A Novel

Average Rating:out of 5 stars
Walmart # 569321498
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&quot;&quot;As compelling as Tan's first bestseller, The Joy Luck Club. . . No one writes about mothers and daughters with more empathy than Amy Tan.&quot; <br />-The Philadelphia Inquirer <p></p>&quot;[An] absorbing tale of the mother-daughter bond . . . this book sing[s] with emotion and insight.&quot; <br />-People <p></p>Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . . <p></p>In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion-all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother's past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness. <p></p>&quot;A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters; haunting images; historical complexity; significant contemporary themes; and suspenseful mystery.&quot; <br />-Los Angeles Times <p></p>&quot;For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down-by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten.&quot; <br />-The New York Times Book Review <p></p>&quot;Tan at her best . . . rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail.&quot; <br />-San Francisco Chronicle

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""As compelling as Tan's first bestseller, The Joy Luck Club. . . No one writes about mothers and daughters with more empathy than Amy Tan."
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] absorbing tale of the mother-daughter bond . . . this book sing[s] with emotion and insight."
-People

Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . .

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion-all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother's past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

"A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters; haunting images; historical complexity; significant contemporary themes; and suspenseful mystery."
-Los Angeles Times

"For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down-by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten."
-The New York Times Book Review

"Tan at her best . . . rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail."
-San Francisco Chronicle““As compelling as Tan’s first bestseller, The Joy Luck Club. . . No one writes about mothers and daughters with more empathy than Amy Tan.”
–The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[An] absorbing tale of the mother-daughter bond . . . this book sing[s] with emotion and insight.”
–People


Ruth Young and her widowed mother, LuLing, have always had a tumultuous relationship. Now, before she succumbs to forgetfulness, LuLing gives Ruth some of her writings, which reveal a side of LuLing that Ruth has never known. . . .

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.


“A strong novel, filled with idiosyncratic, sympathetic characters; haunting images; historical complexity; significant contemporary themes; and suspenseful mystery.”
–Los Angeles Times

“For Tan, the true keeper of memory is language, and so the novel is layered with stories that have been written down–by mothers for their daughters, passing along secrets that cannot be said out loud but must not be forgotten.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Tan at her best . . . rich and hauntingly forlorn . . . The writing is so exacting and unique in its detail.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

Specifications

Language
English
Series Title
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Publisher
Random House Publishing Group
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
400
Author
Amy Tan
Title
The Bonesetter's Daughter
ISBN-13
9780345457370
Publication Date
February, 2003
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.20 x 5.50 x 0.80 Inches
ISBN-10
0345457374

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(3.9)out of 5 stars
5 stars
18
4 stars
24
3 stars
17
2 stars
2
1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
3 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars
I just finished listen...
I just finished listening to [The Bonesetter's Daughter], my first Amy Tan novel. I was mildly surprised that I liked the book. I did not read the synopsis, just picked it up off the shelf at the library. I've avoided [The Joy Luck Club] like a virus because I'm not into chick lit and thought the story was overexposed when the book and movie came out. And since then, I have not been interested in reading anything by Amy Tan. However, as my first exposure to the author, [The Bonesetter's Daughter] was excellent. The story centers on mother/daughter relationships, secrets and knowing oneself. Ruth Young, daughter of a Chinese immigrant mother LuLing Liu Young, is a book doctor (ghost writer) and very busy with the details and insecurities of her own life. When she finally notices that her mother is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's and dementia, she is scared, but puts her life on hold to figure out what's wrong and take care of her mother. LuLing had tried to tell Ruth that something was wrong much earlier by writing her life's story, the things she knew were true and things she did not want to forget, and giving them to Ruth. Ruth did not make the time to translate the handwritten pages from mandarin Chinese to English and so did not read the story. Once she recognizes that LuLing is ill, Ruth has the pages translated and learns the reasons behind her mother's behavior as Ruth was growing up. The book is told from both Ruth's and LuLing's voices. Ruth talks about the present day and life as the daughter of an immigrant who holds on to her Chinese belief system. LuLing's autobiography recounts her childhood and relationship with her mother and extended family. LuLing and her birth mother, Precious Auntie, were outcasts in their own family. Precious Auntie was raised to be confident and knowledgeable like a man and is abused for this audacity by a would-be suitor. He kills her father and groom on her wedding day. Precious Auntie, in her grief, ends up horrifically burned, but still alive and pregnant with LuLing. To spare the family embarrassment, Precious Auntie's sister becomes LuLing's mother and Precious Auntie is 'only' her nursemaid. Tragedy and drama follow the web of secrets and superstitions. By learning her mother's true history, Ruth is able to come to terms with her own relationship with LuLing, show compassion to her mother for her illness, and find her own identity.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
I did the best I could...
I did the best I could, I even skimmed & jumped. I just did not like the characters, and for me that is the deal breaker Art, Ruth's Anglo significant other, basically drops the responsibility of his two daughters & the care of "his" house on Ruth, including the payment of repairs. Ruth's Chinese mother, twice-married LuLing Liu Young, is a controlling despot.... Ruth is the perfect victim/enabler... unwilling to stand up for herself Ruth's friend Wendy, is a self-absorbed selfish person. I abhorred the characters and therefore the story.
Most helpful positive review
3 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars
I just finished listen...
I just finished listening to [The Bonesetter's Daughter], my first Amy Tan novel. I was mildly surprised that I liked the book. I did not read the synopsis, just picked it up off the shelf at the library. I've avoided [The Joy Luck Club] like a virus because I'm not into chick lit and thought the story was overexposed when the book and movie came out. And since then, I have not been interested in reading anything by Amy Tan. However, as my first exposure to the author, [The Bonesetter's Daughter] was excellent. The story centers on mother/daughter relationships, secrets and knowing oneself. Ruth Young, daughter of a Chinese immigrant mother LuLing Liu Young, is a book doctor (ghost writer) and very busy with the details and insecurities of her own life. When she finally notices that her mother is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's and dementia, she is scared, but puts her life on hold to figure out what's wrong and take care of her mother. LuLing had tried to tell Ruth that something was wrong much earlier by writing her life's story, the things she knew were true and things she did not want to forget, and giving them to Ruth. Ruth did not make the time to translate the handwritten pages from mandarin Chinese to English and so did not read the story. Once she recognizes that LuLing is ill, Ruth has the pages translated and learns the reasons behind her mother's behavior as Ruth was growing up. The book is told from both Ruth's and LuLing's voices. Ruth talks about the present day and life as the daughter of an immigrant who holds on to her Chinese belief system. LuLing's autobiography recounts her childhood and relationship with her mother and extended family. LuLing and her birth mother, Precious Auntie, were outcasts in their own family. Precious Auntie was raised to be confident and knowledgeable like a man and is abused for this audacity by a would-be suitor. He kills her father and groom on her wedding day. Precious Auntie, in her grief, ends up horrifically burned, but still alive and pregnant with LuLing. To spare the family embarrassment, Precious Auntie's sister becomes LuLing's mother and Precious Auntie is 'only' her nursemaid. Tragedy and drama follow the web of secrets and superstitions. By learning her mother's true history, Ruth is able to come to terms with her own relationship with LuLing, show compassion to her mother for her illness, and find her own identity.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
I did the best I could...
I did the best I could, I even skimmed & jumped. I just did not like the characters, and for me that is the deal breaker Art, Ruth's Anglo significant other, basically drops the responsibility of his two daughters & the care of "his" house on Ruth, including the payment of repairs. Ruth's Chinese mother, twice-married LuLing Liu Young, is a controlling despot.... Ruth is the perfect victim/enabler... unwilling to stand up for herself Ruth's friend Wendy, is a self-absorbed selfish person. I abhorred the characters and therefore the story.
I just finished listening to [The Bonesetter's Daughter], my first Amy Tan novel. I was mildly surprised that I liked the book. I did not read the synopsis, just picked it up off the shelf at the library. I've avoided [The Joy Luck Club] like a virus because I'm not into chick lit and thought the story was overexposed when the book and movie came out. And since then, I have not been interested in reading anything by Amy Tan. However, as my first exposure to the author, [The Bonesetter's Daughter] was excellent. The story centers on mother/daughter relationships, secrets and knowing oneself. Ruth Young, daughter of a Chinese immigrant mother LuLing Liu Young, is a book doctor (ghost writer) and very busy with the details and insecurities of her own life. When she finally notices that her mother is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's and dementia, she is scared, but puts her life on hold to figure out what's wrong and take care of her mother. LuLing had tried to tell Ruth that something was wrong much earlier by writing her life's story, the things she knew were true and things she did not want to forget, and giving them to Ruth. Ruth did not make the time to translate the handwritten pages from mandarin Chinese to English and so did not read the story. Once she recognizes that LuLing is ill, Ruth has the pages translated and learns the reasons behind her mother's behavior as Ruth was growing up. The book is told from both Ruth's and LuLing's voices. Ruth talks about the present day and life as the daughter of an immigrant who holds on to her Chinese belief system. LuLing's autobiography recounts her childhood and relationship with her mother and extended family. LuLing and her birth mother, Precious Auntie, were outcasts in their own family. Precious Auntie was raised to be confident and knowledgeable like a man and is abused for this audacity by a would-be suitor. He kills her father and groom on her wedding day. Precious Auntie, in her grief, ends up horrifically burned, but still alive and pregnant with LuLing. To spare the family embarrassment, Precious Auntie's sister becomes LuLing's mother and Precious Auntie is 'only' her nursemaid. Tragedy and drama follow the web of secrets and superstitions. By learning her mother's true history, Ruth is able to come to terms with her own relationship with LuLing, show compassion to her mother for her illness, and find her own identity.
I did the best I could, I even skimmed & jumped. I just did not like the characters, and for me that is the deal breaker Art, Ruth's Anglo significant other, basically drops the responsibility of his two daughters & the care of "his" house on Ruth, including the payment of repairs. Ruth's Chinese mother, twice-married LuLing Liu Young, is a controlling despot.... Ruth is the perfect victim/enabler... unwilling to stand up for herself Ruth's friend Wendy, is a self-absorbed selfish person. I abhorred the characters and therefore the story.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 62 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

The Bonesetters Daugh...

"The Bonesetters Daughter" is a great story about a daughter taking care of her aging mother and discovering her mother's, and estranged grandmother's past, and understanding way her mother is the way she is and even gains a better understanding of herself. It is a great book, the story will stick with you for a long time, and make sure you give your mom a hug when you are done reading it.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

The first time Amy Tan...

The first time Amy Tan - The New York Times best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses - learned her mother's real name as well as that of her grandmother was on the day she died. It happened as Tan and several sidblings - unified by a need to feel helpful instead of helpless - gathered to discuss their dying mother's past and prepare her obituary. Tan was stunned when she realized she had not known her own mother's birth name. It was just one of several surprises. In the act of writing a simple obituary Tan came to realize there was still so much she did not know about her. Soon afterwards she began rewriting the novel she had been working on for five years. Inspired by her own experiences with family secrets kept by one generation from the next, and drawn from a lifetime of questions and images, the result is The Bonesetters's Daughter. The story begins when Ruth Young, a ghostwriter of self-help books, comes across a clipped stack of papers in the bottom of a desk drawer. Young has been caring for her ailing mother, LuLing, who is beginning to show the unmistakable signs of Alzheimer's disease. Written in Chinese by LuLing years earlier, when she first started worrying something was wrong with her memory, the papers contain a narrative of LuLing's life as a girl in China, and the life of her own mother, the daughter of the Famous Bonesetter from the village of Xian Xin - Immortal Heart - near the Mouth of the Mountain. Within the calligraphed pages Ruth finds the truth about a mother's heart, what she cannot tell her daughter yet hopes her daughter will never forget. With her latest novel Amy Tan explores the changing place one has in a family of names that were nearly forgotten. Just as she herself has done, Tan shows Ruth finding the secrets and fragments of her mother's past - its heartfelt desires, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes - and with each new discovery reconfiguring her assessment of the woman who shaped her life, who is in her bones. The extent to which Tan's newest novel mixes pure fiction with elements of autobiography is made clear by Tan herself. In acknowledgements of The Bonesetter's Daughter she writes, "The heart of this story belongs to my grandmother, its voice to my mother."

Helpful?
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed th...

I very much enjoyed this book, particularly the interplay of the various characters who find themselves enmeshed across lifetimes. This is a fascinating fictional perspective on the buddhist concept of reincarnation. I like the fact that one of the bad guys gets reincarnated as a dog.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I just finished listen...

I just finished listening to [The Bonesetter's Daughter], my first Amy Tan novel. I was mildly surprised that I liked the book. I did not read the synopsis, just picked it up off the shelf at the library. I've avoided [The Joy Luck Club] like a virus because I'm not into chick lit and thought the story was overexposed when the book and movie came out. And since then, I have not been interested in reading anything by Amy Tan. However, as my first exposure to the author, [The Bonesetter's Daughter] was excellent. The story centers on mother/daughter relationships, secrets and knowing oneself. Ruth Young, daughter of a Chinese immigrant mother LuLing Liu Young, is a book doctor (ghost writer) and very busy with the details and insecurities of her own life. When she finally notices that her mother is exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's and dementia, she is scared, but puts her life on hold to figure out what's wrong and take care of her mother. LuLing had tried to tell Ruth that something was wrong much earlier by writing her life's story, the things she knew were true and things she did not want to forget, and giving them to Ruth. Ruth did not make the time to translate the handwritten pages from mandarin Chinese to English and so did not read the story. Once she recognizes that LuLing is ill, Ruth has the pages translated and learns the reasons behind her mother's behavior as Ruth was growing up. The book is told from both Ruth's and LuLing's voices. Ruth talks about the present day and life as the daughter of an immigrant who holds on to her Chinese belief system. LuLing's autobiography recounts her childhood and relationship with her mother and extended family. LuLing and her birth mother, Precious Auntie, were outcasts in their own family. Precious Auntie was raised to be confident and knowledgeable like a man and is abused for this audacity by a would-be suitor. He kills her father and groom on her wedding day. Precious Auntie, in her grief, ends up horrifically burned, but still alive and pregnant with LuLing. To spare the family embarrassment, Precious Auntie's sister becomes LuLing's mother and Precious Auntie is 'only' her nursemaid. Tragedy and drama follow the web of secrets and superstitions. By learning her mother's true history, Ruth is able to come to terms with her own relationship with LuLing, show compassion to her mother for her illness, and find her own identity.

Helpful?
Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Formulaic, yet addicti...

Formulaic, yet addictive... I almost feel bad criticizing this book for being overly formulaic when I actually enjoyed parts of it so much. Yes, this is typical Amy Tan fare, which includes mother-daughter angst, immigrant culture, and old Chinese family secrets dusted off and gradually exposed through some engrossing storytelling. The story shifts between present-day San Francisco where we follow Ruth Young and her struggles with her Chinese-born mother, LuLing, and pre-WW2 rural China where we are treated to sumptious descriptions of old customs and superstitions surrounding LuLing's family origins. As with Tan's other books, it is when she takes the reader back in time to China that the story really shines. When the plot returns to America, it almost feels like a complete let-down. In present time, Ruth's mother, LuLing, suffers from dementia, and as a result she has written down her life story in Chinese for her daughter to read. Ruth, who is not fluent in written Mandarin, hires someone to translate the story, and it is through this translation we are treated to the memoirs of LuLing. The bonesetter is her grandfather, and the daughter actually refers to LuLing's real mother - or Precious Auntie as she is called. This tragic title character is at the center of the story both before and after her death, and the injustices done to her by her adversaries as well as her own family are heartwrenching. The dynamic between LuLing and her "sister" GaoLing is also well portrayed, and the sisterly jealousies as well as loyalties are well characterized. The family business aspects, caligraphy descriptions and the ink-producing process are fascinating to read. All the superstitions and ghosts that envelope every character in China, however, are the most satisfying parts. There are numerous subplots and transitory characters, both in China and in San Fransisco. There are the two American missionaries along with Sister Yu, who run the orphanage where LuLing spends several years both as student and teacher. There are the British mother and daughter and their talking parrot in Hong Kong where LiuLing as a maid learns English. There are the archeologists who are excavating the Peking Man - and the one who wins LuLing's heart. The subplot involving Dottie and Lance from Ruth's childhood, however, albeit interesting, seemed to fizzle out without a proper conclusion. Finally, the main male characters in the story were quite one-dimensional (saintly or evil) - but this is rather typical in Tan's writing. The end is too contrived in its desperate attempt to provide some sort of closure between everyone. Also, the translator's role becomes a bit too sentimental. You leave the book wishing to read more about China, which is actually a good feeling. All in all, this is a comforting hammock read without profound implications.

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