The Joy Luck Club is a fascinating look into the lives of Chinese women who have immigrated to the United States, and Chinese- American women. Written as a collection of stories told in the first person, four mothers and their four daughters share memories of the joys and conflicts of their lives. .
Each story gives a wonderful glimpse into Chinese culture and heritage including festivals, marriage ceremonies, food dishes, clothing, and raising children. We are also introduced to the social rules and expectations for the traditional Chinese woman. However, what is most moving about The Joy Luck Club is that in spite of this upbringing, each woman or girl has a true nature and spirit that enables her to find unique ways to cope with life. These individual spirits are the basis of survival through hard times both emotional and physical. .
Many of the experiences that these Chinese women have throughout the book are shared by women universally. The experiences shared by these Chinese families are common familial ones. We learn of Chinese customs and can readily identify with the commonalities. .
The Joy Luck Club is a group of women who have met over the mah jong table regularly since 1949. The first vignette is told by the daughter of the club's founder who has been invited to join after her mother's death. Jing-mei Woo explains how the first club started in China and how it continues to the present. .
The stories, while separate, are woven together as we learn of subsequent deaths, divorces, and family reunions in later chapters. Certain details in later vignettes relate back to events earlier in the book. The feelings that mothers have concerning their daughters, how daughters feel about their mothers, and the competition, love and resentment that takes place among various members of the group are skillfully revealed. .
One of the major conflicts between the mothers and their daughters is the desire of the young generation to become more Americanized.