A pursuit of joy and wish to harness luck inspired Suyuan Woo top create the The Joy Luck Club. In her novel of the same name(published in 1989, and made into a movie in 1993) , author Amy Tan explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter, that most fragile of tenacious bonds. It is a tale of failures and triumphs, of sorrow and joy, of misunderstandings and love.
Each generation grows up questioning the previous, even if the questions are silent in one’s head,and there is an outward kowtowing to the demands of a deep rooted culture. This outward complaisance often leads to the roots settling in and the person becoming part of the culture. Or is the other way around? Or does it not happen often?
When mothers having been uprooted from their own pasts, raise their daughters in a far away land, they find a tension in holding on to the land of their birth, and allowing themselves to be free of the bitterness that uprooted them in the first place. Bitterness there always seems to be. In being abandoned by their family, or by their husbands, in the shame of loving a mother who brought shame into the family, in the trauma of having to leave babies behind and trusting that strangers would save them.
Youthful America can hold out lures to these women who come from ancient cultures, whether it is the glittering life visible from across the seas, or the seduction of breaking free from the entwining, centuries old bonds, or getting away from a past that has become unbearable, and starting afresh. The pride in one’s heritage jostles with the battles of one’s youth. There is an uneasy breakdown of the conviction that their upbringing is the only one true path, which drives cracks into their assuredness of the right and the wrong. Daughters grow up with a reluctant foot in a land they do not know, in roots that they cannot see, and a wavering foot in a land they live and breathe in, desperate to belong. In the end, the delicate balance between love and understanding, of hope and a desire to build bridges, builds a new system of roots.
Not understanding Mah Jong, seemed to be a bit of a hindrance as there was a vague feeling of missing the point. There was also a need to refer back multiple times between chapters and story lines. It was a little confusing. However, in the end, it was well worth the read.