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Lady Tan's Circle of Women

Lady Tan's Circle of Women


Book Overview: Lady Tan's Circle of Women


The latest historical novel from New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China--perfect for fans of See's classic Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and The Island of Sea Women.

According to Confucius, "an educated woman is a worthless woman," but Tan Yunxian--born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness--is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations--looking, listening, touching, and asking--something a man can never do with a female patient.

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women's illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose--despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it--and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other's joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.

But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife--embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions, go on to treat women and girls from every level of society, and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? Lady Tan's Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women. It is also a triumphant reimagining of the life of a woman who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.

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Publication Date2023
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Lisa See is an American novelist and New York Times bestselling author renowned for her well-researched historical fiction. Born in Paris in 1955, but raised in Los Angeles, her literary prominence emerged with her deep exploration of Chinese-American culture. Some of her notable works include "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," "On Gold Mountain," and "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane." See's storytelling, which often incorporates her own Chinese ancestry, paints intricate portraits of emotional relationships and the immigrant experience. Over her career, she's received numerous accolities such as the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the History Makers Award from the Chinese American Museum.


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