Winnie and Pearl are mother and daughter. Both have secrets they have been reluctant to share with each other. But when Auntie Helen decides to interfere, the secrets are forced into the open, and we are taken on a journey into Winnie’s past. From her terrible marriage, the Japanese invasion of China, and the death of her children, Winnie must tell Pearl the secrets that shame her the most. And only when the mother’s past is revealed, does Pearl feel the confidence to divulge her own secret.
The wonderful thing about Amy Tan is the voices she gives her characters. For she chooses narrators that are not only skilled at story-telling, you feel you could reach out and touch them. For much of this novel, Winnie is the narrator. There are times when she addresses you directly, as if you are her daughter. This is so marvelous, because the reader is drawn into and becomes a part of the story. And what a story. The history alone makes this book worth reading, but then Tan adds something more – characters that make you weep and laugh. And it’s steeped in it’s Chinese identity. A perfect novel.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1991