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Publisher's Summary

Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is being unearthed, The Bonesetter's Daughter is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes.

The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. Over the course of one fog-shrouded year, between one season of falling stars and the next, mother and daughter find what they share in their bones through heredity, history, and inexpressible qualities of love.

©2001 Amy Tan (P)2005 Phoenix Audio. All Rights Reserved.

Critic Reviews

"In the end, it's the novel's depth of feeling that resonates and lingers. Tan writes with real soul." (Washington Post Book World) "Storytelling in its oldest and truest form." (AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall

A Touching Story

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.

Highly recommended.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Eileen
  • Tinley Park, IL, United States
  • 03-25-03

Exceptionally good

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

  • Overall


This book kept me enthralled to the end. It is the story of mothers, daughters, and the unknown love between them. The narration is excellent and there is a bit of "suspense" because you are just aching to know the whole story! It is a marvelous book.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Mothers, Daughters, Aging

My Mother first introduced me to Amy Tan by lending me "Joy Luck Club." This book far surpassed that book in describing the complex relationship of mothers and daughters. What made this story all the more touching is that my own mother is now facing some of the challenges that Ruth's mother faces.

So, mirrored in the story of a grandmother, mother and daughter, experiencing life and passing on a personal history that twists and turns from one generation to the other, is the story of my own mother and me, facing similar disagreements and reconcilliations. I don't believe it is much different for other women, regardless of cultural background.

I found the book heartwarming and sympathetic to the "previous generation," a guide and subtle warning to the "current generation," and a bittersweet victory for the indomitable human spirit.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 12-30-06

Slow To Grab

It took me forever to get into this story. The daughter seems to be bored and frustrated with her life and bothered by her mother. Not atypical.

Even the mother's story starts out slow. In fact, the beginnings were prbably dragged on too long.

But perseverance paid off. The two stories came together and the end came too soon. I liked the narration of the two characters.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ursula
  • Columbia, MD, USA
  • 01-26-05

Can't wait to get into my car

every morning to hear the next chapter of this wonderful book. I have enjoyed all of Amy Tan's books but this one is her best. I have learned so much about the Chinese culture new and old and I have a better appreciation of it. Thank you Amy Tan for another wonderful book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Donna
  • Bronx, NY, USA
  • 02-03-08


This is the 3rd Amy Tan book I've read and I was not disappointed. I am amazed that a person can write a book so interesting, with so many lessons to be learned, and which evokes so much emotion. I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed the voices of the narrators as well

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


the most unique and beautiful tale. so rich with the fullness of life in the entire range of emotions. and i cannot imagine ever reading this. it would lose so much without the narration. it is almost as if a friend is personally sharing memories of family through time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • MS
  • 05-20-05

Uplifting and Entertaining

Defintiely worth the time. It was easy to identify with the main characters and the narrative style was well done.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cheryl
  • North Canton, OH, USA
  • 09-06-05

Fantastic - one of a kind

This book is in a class of its own. I listed to this one every chance I had.

The Bonesetter's Daughter is A wonderful story with outstanding narration. Amy Tan is a gifted narrator,in addition to being a gifted author.

I look forward to more Amy Tan books.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful