Suyuan Woo, An-mei Hsu, Lindo Jong and Yin-ying St Clair migrate to the US from China to escape war, leaving indescribable sadness behind.
Though retaining their Chinese views and customs, they try in the “land of freedom” to build new lives without pain and sorrow, driven solely by hope. Suyuan arranges a periodic gathering with the three other Chinese women, who each take a corner of her mah jong table.
She calls the gathering the Joy Luck Club.
The novel relates each of their bittersweet stories. Each woman faces challenges raising a bilingual daughter – Jin-mei Woo (June), Rose Hsu Jordan, Waverly Jong and Lena St Clair. Born in America, they often have a hard time understanding their mothers.
In the eyes of their American-born daughters, the four older Chinese women are just mothers, always complaining and trying to control every aspect of their lives.
However, the daughters do not see what lies in their mothers’ pasts: the sorrow, pain, regret and fears that stem from their experiences before moving to America, which they did in the hope of giving their daughters the choices they never had.
In writing The Joy Luck Club, author Amy Tan sought to portray the complex relationships that evolve between mothers and daughters brought up in different environments.
The relationships are as complicated as the many strands of the story being woven together in the book.
Once you get to grips with those strands, however, you will start to understand the bonds that exist between these mothers and daughters, which while sometimes strained, are ultimately unbreakable.