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Summary

Four Chinese women, drawn together by the shadow of their past, meet in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks, eat dim sum, and to "say" stories to each other. Nearly 40 years later, one of the women has died, and her daughter arrives to take her place. However, the daughter never expected to learn of her mother's secret lifelong wish - and the tragic way in which it has come true. The revelation creates among the women an urgent need to remember the past. What is lost between generations and among friends - and what is salvaged - resonates throughout this novel of friendship among women and the relations between mothers and daughters.

Jacket Illustration ©1989 Gretchen Shields; Copyright ©1989

Critic reviews

"Amy Tan effortlessly mixes tenderness and bitter irony, sorrow and slicing wit. The Joy Luck Club is a fabulous concoction." (Louise Erdrich)

What listeners say about The Joy Luck Club

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written

I found the different life stories really engaging but wished I had written down the characters and their relationships as it progressed as got confused about whose story I was listening to. The narrator was lovely, but her 'American mans voice' was pretty poor, though did like the Chinese pronunciation. I will be getting another Amy Tan book for sure and delve into the magic of China again.

1 person found this helpful

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Good story, hard to follow

enjoyed it but think it'd be easier to follow by reading rayher than listening

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Not a joy to listen to

There seems to be a fad for overly authentic audiobook narration afoot. To cast a narrator from the same ethnic background as a book's author is one thing. To have that American-accented narrator read long stretches of that book in various attempts at Chinese-accented English is quite another.

Some of the stereotypical voices Ms Yeo adopts for the Chinese-born characters would be borderline offensive coming from a non-Asian, and her male voices are even worse. Presumably the producer's intent was to distinguish between the 7 or so PoV characters.

The fact I can't confidently say how many PoV characters there even were should tell you how successful they were(n't).

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struggled to keep up

this is probably best being read than being listened too as it's very hard to keep up with all the names. also some of the accents are horrendous,

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  • KC
  • 28-12-20

An insight into a world I could never know

This story took me to places, times and experiences so very different to those in my own life that I was fascinated, shocked and surprised in turns. I am reminded of the power of books to transcend culture, history and geography and glad that I chose to read ‘The Joy Luck Club’ even though it was nothing like the book I hoped for. You see, I had done a search under ‘feel-good literature’ and this is one that popped up. The title also seemed to confirm this as a good choice. In fact many aspects of the story are harrowing and uncomfortable but, like all really good books, in my view, it does at least, end with hope. I’d encourage others to read it as it is well written, educative and thought provoking.

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disappointing

certainly did not live up to expectations. reading was like wading through treacle . ploughed on hoping it would improve.

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Note down story titles and names of characters

Most characters have 2 names and chapters 1 and 2 require a lot of concentration as the stories don’t make sense without noting the names and the characters relationships to one another.

Joy Luck Club contains sixteen interwoven stories about conflicts between Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-raised daughters. The book hinges on Jing-mei's (also called June) trip to China to meet her half-sisters, twins Chwun Yu and Chwun Hwa.
The Joy Luck Club describes the lives of four Asian women who fled China in the 1940s and their four very Americanised daughters. The novel focuses on Jing-mei "June" Woo, a thirty-six-year-old daughter, who, after her mother's death, takes her place at the meetings of a social group called the Joy Luck Club.

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hard to keep up with who is who!

I found it difficult to keep up with who was who.
Gwendolyn Yeo is a fabulous narrator.

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  • Overall
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-08-16

nice read

i was recommended to read this by my Chinese girlfriend who shared that while it could be an exaggerated set of stories from one perspective, it was enriching nevertheless. i agree.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Anna Hickman
  • 31-01-15

Wonderful!

I loved the book and the audio was good as well. This was my first book on tape, so I have to say I'm not 100% used to heading someone else's voice while listening to a story but generally she did a good job. She pronounced Chinese words (which I could never have done) and had at times a believable Chinese accent that wasn't too much to take away from the story, but she changed her voice to pretend to have a mans voice and this was very strange. That's why I knocked off a star because her "man's voice" was very distracting and unnecessary. But over all it was good.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Leslie Teicholz
  • 16-03-04

Joy Luck - abridged

This is a fabulous story - extremely well written but should not be abridged. I would have given it five stars had I listened to the entire book. It needed the extra flesh.

58 people found this helpful

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  • Barbara Thompson
  • 17-11-15

Enjoyed the book

I have read and enjoyed all of Amy Tan's novels. Since this is an early one, it isn't always easy to keep track of individual characters. The story and the emotion are well worth reading.
On the other hand, I did not care for the narrator. I liked the voice of the main character, but some of the others were very abrasive-- maybe how an American voice sounds to an Asian. Also, several words were mispronounced. An example: lapel rhymed with label. I fault the producer/editor for missing those words.
Overall, I recommend this book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Tammy
  • 19-02-16

The Story was OK, but the Narrator was terrible.

The Narrator was awful. Some of her voices sounded like 'Yoda' from "Star Wars"... To me it ruined the story. This is one of the few times that I really liked the movie more than the book.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Ali G.
  • 12-05-21

Why did I wait so long to read this?

I loved this book. I loved how the stories were told and each chapter changed characters. I have known of this book my whole life when my mother had it in her room for her book group in the 80s. It's a book that has followed me through life, seeing it in libraries, bookstores, and on friends shelves. I wish I read it years ago, and am so glad I finally did.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • maesyn muse
  • 09-03-15

Fantastic

Just brilliant. Great accents, fascinating plot strands woven together! I loved it and couldn't stop listening to it, going in for a second round!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Julie
  • 08-09-21

Stunning, an instant comfort read.

Not enough good things to say about this book. I bought a physical copy so I could keep rereading parts, but Gwendoline Yeo did an incredible job narrating every character.

Amy Tan delivers a beautiful story about inner strength and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters. This book will make you laugh AND cry. You seriously will not regret the purchase.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susan Pederson
  • 11-05-21

A Beautiful Book

An absolutely beautiful book! Although it focuses on Chinese American families, it is about all immigrants & all mothers & daughters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Caryl
  • 16-09-16

I love the individual perceptions of the character

I loved the story it was a very fun read and I strongly recommend it.

3 people found this helpful