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Reviews for The Many Daughters Of Afong Moy

by Jamie Ford

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Ford (Love and Other Consolation Prizes)) writes a fictional, multigenerational account of the women in a Chinese American family. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the seven Moys, from Afong Moy (the first Chinese woman to arrive in the U.S., in 1834), to Dorothy Moy in 2045 and Annabel Moy in 2086. Shared familial trauma is the women's heirloom, proving the basis of the book—that trauma can be inherited and transmitted. Readers are introduced to 14-year-old Afong whose ah ma is preparing her to be wedded to Dei Yu, who has just passed away. As Afong's ah ma teaches her the way for a wife to mourn, the author drives home the point: "They both knew she did not need a lesson in grief. She had been born a woman." Two centuries later, Dorothy attempts to break free from the cycle of carrying her predecessors' pain, by participating in an experimental epigenetic therapy. Throughout the novel, Ford (who is a man) acutely captures the plight of women across time. Dorothy is the most developed character, but each of the Moy women will leave readers wanting to know more. VERDICT Ford's tragically beautiful book will make readers cry and smile.—Paige Pagan


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Covering 250 years, Ford’s new novel traces the way states of consciousness involving extreme moments of pain or joy interconnect seven generations of Chinese women. Embedded images—airplanes, ships, waves—and the occasional ghostly vision highlight how these women’s lives reverberate as the focus moves back and forth in time. In 1942 China, Faye Moy, a nurse in her 50s who’s working with American forces, feels an eerie connection to a dying young pilot in whose pocket she finds a newspaper photograph of herself as a teenager and a note in her own handwriting that says, “FIND ME.” Finding oneself and/or one’s soul mate becomes the throughline of the book. Faye’s great-grandmother Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America, dies in childbirth after a short career being exhibited as a curiosity in the 1830s. Faye’s mother, Lai King (Afong’s granddaughter), sails to Canton after her parents’ deaths in San Francisco’s Chinatown fire of 1892. Onboard ship she bonds with a young White boy, also an orphan, and nurses him when contagion strikes. When Faye is 14, she has an illegitimate daughter who is adopted and raised in England. Presumably that girl is Zoe Moy, who, in 1927, attends the famously progressive Summerhill School, where a disastrous social experiment in fascism destroys her relationship with a beloved poetry teacher. In 2014, Zoe’s emotionally fragile granddaughter, Greta, loses both her skyrocketing tech career and the love of her life at the hands of an evil capitalist. While several earlier Moys receive aid and guidance from Buddhist monks, Greta’s troubled poet daughter, Dorothy, turns to both Buddhism and radical scientific treatment to uncover and understand how past crises, emotional, physical, and spiritual, are destabilizing her current life in 2045. Expect long treatises on anamnesis, quantum biology, and reincarnation before traveling with Dorothy’s adult daughter in 2086. Ford raises fascinating questions, but a rushed ending too neatly ties up the answers in an unconvincing, sentimental bow. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Covering 250 years, Fords new novel traces the way states of consciousness involving extreme moments of pain or joy interconnect seven generations of Chinese women.Embedded imagesairplanes, ships, wavesand the occasional ghostly vision highlight how these womens lives reverberate as the focus moves back and forth in time. In 1942 China, Faye Moy, a nurse in her 50s whos working with American forces, feels an eerie connection to a dying young pilot in whose pocket she finds a newspaper photograph of herself as a teenager and a note in her own handwriting that says, FIND ME. Finding oneself and/or ones soul mate becomes the throughline of the book. Fayes great-grandmother Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America, dies in childbirth after a short career being exhibited as a curiosity in the 1830s. Fayes mother, Lai King (Afongs granddaughter), sails to Canton after her parents deaths in San Franciscos Chinatown fire of 1892. Onboard ship she bonds with a young White boy, also an orphan, and nurses him when contagion strikes. When Faye is 14, she has an illegitimate daughter who is adopted and raised in England. Presumably that girl is Zoe Moy, who, in 1927, attends the famously progressive Summerhill School, where a disastrous social experiment in fascism destroys her relationship with a beloved poetry teacher. In 2014, Zoes emotionally fragile granddaughter, Greta, loses both her skyrocketing tech career and the love of her life at the hands of an evil capitalist. While several earlier Moys receive aid and guidance from Buddhist monks, Gretas troubled poet daughter, Dorothy, turns to both Buddhism and radical scientific treatment to uncover and understand how past crises, emotional, physical, and spiritual, are destabilizing her current life in 2045. Expect long treatises on anamnesis, quantum biology, and reincarnation before traveling with Dorothys adult daughter in 2086.Ford raises fascinating questions, but a rushed ending too neatly ties up the answers in an unconvincing, sentimental bow. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The Edgar-nominated Bayard follows up Courting Mr. Lincoln with Jackie & Me, which reimagines Jacqueline Bouvier meeting Jack Kennedy and, as they approach marriage, slowly realizing that she's being polished as the perfect political wife. The New York Times best-selling, multi-award-winning Belfer introduces us to disappointed academic Hannah Larson, who travels to historic Ashton Hall to tend a relative and begins reconstructing events there during the Elizabethan era after her neurodivegent young son, Nicky, discovers a skeleton in the walls. Drawing on ancient texts and modern archaeology to unearth a trans woman's story beneath The Iliad, Deane's Wrath Goddess Sing reveals an Achilles living as a woman with the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite and refusing Odysseus's call to fight until given the body of a woman by Athena and heading into battle to confront an immortal, viciously implacable Helen. From Ford, the author of the mega-best-selling Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Many Daughters of Afong May tells the story of Dorothy Moy, who turns her often painful dissociative mental-health crises into art; when her daughter begins revealing similar tendencies, Dorothy seeks to waylay the consequences of inherited trauma by engaging in a radical therapy that connects her with brave women ancestors (125,000-copy first printing). In debuter Pook's Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter, set in late 1800s Australia, young Englishwoman Eliza Brightwell sets off to find her eccentric father when the pearl-fishing boat he captains returns to port without him (60,000-copy first printing). In Pulley's Cold War-set The Half-Life of Valery K, when former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov is removed from the Gulag and asked to study the effects of radiation in a mysterious town housing nuclear reactors, he's truly worried about how much radiation there is (60,000-copy first printing). In New York Times best-selling author Rimmer's latest, The German Wife of a Nazi scientist pardoned and put to work in the start-up U.S. space program doesn't feel at home among the other NASA wives and confides her husband's SS past to exactly the wrong person (200,000-copy paperback and 10,000-copy hardcover first printing).


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Ford (Love and Other Consolation Prizes, 2017) showcases “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance”—inheriting trauma through generations—in another multitemporal narrative spanning two-and-a-half centuries across the globe. Ford deftly reveals seven women’s lives, beginning with progenitor Afong, “the first Chinese woman to set foot on American soil.” The name and epithet are actual history, which Ford embellishes with a poignant past and intriguing descendants. Child bride to a dead man, Afong is banished to the New World, where she disappears in 1836. Her legacy continues through Lai King, returned alone to China in 1892 to save her from certain plague death in San Francisco; nurse Faye in Kunming, who saves an American pilot in 1942; student Zoe at a progressive British school in 1927; feminist dating-app creator Greta in 2014. In 2045, battling personal crises, poet Dorothy becomes their epigenetic connector; by 2086, daughter Annabel will be the beneficiary of Dorothy’s transformative quest. While loneliness, suffering, and violence haunt throughout, Ford’s revisionist penultimate chapter, “Echoes,” feels less empowering than uncomfortably forced. That said, Ford fans are unlikely to be disappointed, his writing remains reliably immersive and enlightening.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Advance publicity will spur interest in Ford's fans and all readers who love sweeping historical fiction.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Ford (Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) explores in his intriguing if melodramatic latest the connections between seven generations of women, beginning with the historical Afong Moy, noted as the first Chinese woman to immigrate to the United States. In 2045, in a storm-besieged Seattle, Afong’s descendant Dorothy is having hallucinations from the points of view of women from the past. Dorothy seeks help from a Native American practitioner of the experimental “science” of epigenetics, which posits that it’s possible to inherit memories. The novel weaves scenes from the lives of other Moys—including a nurse in China in WWII, a student at the radical Summerhill boarding school in Great Britain, a young woman crossing the Pacific, and more—with scenes of Dorothy’s increasingly frantic attempts to hold onto some sort of sanity as a monsoon hits Seattle and her mind shifts between the present and the distant past. Ford sometimes bogs this down with explanations of epigenetics, and some might roll their eyes at the pat ending, but the individual accounts of the women in the family can be gripping. There’s some good storytelling here, but this doesn’t quite stand out amid an increasingly full shelf of multigenerational climate epics. Agent: Kirstin Nelson; Nelson Literary Agency. (Aug.)

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