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The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

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Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living. As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fea Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living. As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help. Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America. As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.


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Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living. As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fea Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living. As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help. Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America. As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.

30 review for The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford This is a difficult review to write because I can't really tell you what happened in this story. I don't understand what happened, or how it happened, or why it happened. I'd never heard of epigenetics (the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence) before I read this book. We see this story from the viewpoint of seven women. They are all related and affected by transgenerational trauma, trauma passed down The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford This is a difficult review to write because I can't really tell you what happened in this story. I don't understand what happened, or how it happened, or why it happened. I'd never heard of epigenetics (the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence) before I read this book. We see this story from the viewpoint of seven women. They are all related and affected by transgenerational trauma, trauma passed down from one generation to the next. Each woman can feel something, emotions from a past that she has never experienced. Some of the women don't know the history of the women before her so she can't even explain her feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and despair as the product of hearing stories of her ancestors' difficult past. Afong leads the way for these seven women and Afong is based on a real person, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America. From her sad start we progress to the stories of the women who come after her. The story is not told in chronological order but instead we weave back and forth between pivotal times in each woman's lives. Annabel is at the end of this line of women, many years into our future, and thanks to her mother's experience with new and improving treatments, Annabel and many of her ancestors are able to feel/experience their past, present, and future differently. The story was interesting but very sad, seeing how the women were affected by the cruelty and indifference of their fellow man. I would have liked to have better understood how Dorothy may have changed what had happened to something different. My mind imagines chaos for the future, in changing the past, but we don't see that in this story. Published August 2nd 2022 Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    **Many thanks to Edelweiss, Maudee Genao at Atria, and Jamie Ford for a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review! Now available as of 8.2!** We loved with a love that was more than love."-Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee We inherit our eye color. The curve of our jawline. The hint of a dimple (or lack thereof) when we smile. But what about our pain? Are we predisposed to experience the trauma in our lives? Are we simply wearing tread over the paths our ancestors walked, many years before? Is he **Many thanks to Edelweiss, Maudee Genao at Atria, and Jamie Ford for a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review! Now available as of 8.2!** We loved with a love that was more than love."-Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee We inherit our eye color. The curve of our jawline. The hint of a dimple (or lack thereof) when we smile. But what about our pain? Are we predisposed to experience the trauma in our lives? Are we simply wearing tread over the paths our ancestors walked, many years before? Is heartbreak, agony, and longing ever avoidable...or will it rise to meet us, no matter what path we intend to choose? Jamie Ford explores these questions and many more in this thought-provoking, deep, lyrical, and sweeping novel that I COULD NOT put down! In 2045, Dorothy (poet, mother, and wife), has been battling her inner demons for most of her life. Though her profession urges her to explore and use her pain, she has never been able to overcome the mental roadblocks and now sees some indication that her beloved young daughter Annabel might be heading down the same path. Fearing the worst, Dorothy decides to take drastic action, heading to a clinic where epigenetics (the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work, as defined by the CDC) is utilized and studied via administered treatments. These treatments attempt to 'break the pattern', as it were, by imbuing the subject with filtered memories of the past and realities they have never personally known, but have affected them in some way. During Dorothy's course of treatment, we meet several different women: the titular Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America; Faye Moy the nurse, looking after wounded soldiers; Greta Moy, a savvy businesswoman with an innovative and wildly successful dating app; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined on a ship during a plague epidemic (and no, this was not COVID!); and Zoe Moy, a student whose unorthodox school is a challenging environment for many reasons. The narrative weaves seamlessly in and out of these different time periods, with Dorothy feeling more muddled yet more intrigued as time passes and the treatments continue. Will she have the opportunity to save Annabel from what fate has in store by story's end...or will embodying this pain from the past cause her to cross a threshold never meant to be crossed...with dramatic and dire consequences? If you'd told me a month ago that I would stumble on a Historical Fiction book that I both wouldn't be able to put down AND wouldn't be able to stop thinking about? I probably would have laughed at you. Historical Fiction has always been my touch-and-go genre, one where fit is essential and honestly it is so RARE for me to rave about anything from the genre, even if I enjoy the book. It usually still has that air of a History textbook, or else everything falls neatly into eye-rolling cliche (A solider falls in love, is killed in war, etc. etc.) This book is SO much more than that. Expertly weaving in philosophical notions, magic, mystery, heart, and more importantly, heartache and trauma, this book manages not only to tell a fascinating story, but to explore the human condition in SUCH an accessible way. Nothing lofty or pretentious here, folks, but I hope you have an appetite, because you could sustain yourself on the food for thought present for several months! (Ford also points to MANY resources in the back of the book, so don't be surprised if you feel like doing a bit of additional research once you've finished!) Ford is also a Poet, pays homage to poets, our main character IS a poet...so as an occasional amateur poet, I was swooning over the language in this one. Sparse at times, evocative at others, Ford never wastes a word...OR adds some that aren't necessary. This is the culmination of lovely writing, tight plotting, and expert editing. Despite the fact that this novel jumps ALL OVER time and space, and in several different time periods, not ONCE did I feel lost. I was so invested in all of these women's lives that I gasped along with them when tragedy struck. You know you're fully immersed in the world of your book when you start actually TALKING to the characters in the book, trying to warn or protect them at all costs. I truly felt I was on a journey of my own alongside Dorothy, at times struggling with inner torment, but ever hopeful for resolve. The story ends with Annabel, set years after Dorothy's treatments, and proves a fitting and poignant end. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is a rare gem of a book, penned with the tender hand and the tortured heart of the poetic soul. Ford mentions in his Author's Note that this book is his big box of crayons, and he couldn't POSSIBLY have colored a more beautiful and tragic portrait of our world. 5 stunning stars This fabulous book is also available through BOTM, was selected as a Read With Jenna Pick, and is also being adapted for the screen!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 stars: I began by listening to the audio of Jamie Ford’s “The Many Daughters of Afong Moy”, which had eight narrators for seven time periods. Too confusing! Plus, I started listening to it cold, without reading the blurb right before listening. Another big mistake. Thankfully, I got lucky because my library had the book, which I was able to use. This is a story to be read. Listening to it without reading it made me lose a lot of meaningful content. Ford chooses the idea of epigenetic for his 3.5 stars: I began by listening to the audio of Jamie Ford’s “The Many Daughters of Afong Moy”, which had eight narrators for seven time periods. Too confusing! Plus, I started listening to it cold, without reading the blurb right before listening. Another big mistake. Thankfully, I got lucky because my library had the book, which I was able to use. This is a story to be read. Listening to it without reading it made me lose a lot of meaningful content. Ford chooses the idea of epigenetic for his seven generational story. He wanted to explore the idea that we inherit generational trauma from our ancestors. Personally, I’m not a fan of the theory. It’s another burden that parents, mothers especially, will feel guilty about. A mother experiences stress or depression while pregnant or before pregnancy, well, you just gave that to your unborn child. Every decision, feeling, or experience will have impact and ramifications on your future offspring. It’s almost impossible to not suffer from grief, sadness, anger, or any negative emotion. Now, we are adding the emotional weight to women that can be seen as soul crushing, at least by this reader. But I digress. As with all good historical fiction, Ford’s Acknowledgments at the end of the book were almost better than the story itself. Ford magically weaves nonfiction events and people into his story which provides further elucidation. Afong May was a real-life person who was believed to be the first Chinese woman to come to the United States. She had bound feet and was used as a circus attraction. Not much is truly known about her life, and Ford made reasonable assumptions as to how she was treated and mistreated. In Ford’s imagination, she had a daughter, Lai King Moy, a young Chinese girl who is quarantined during the Barbary Plague in San Francisco (a true event). Lai King had Zoe, who studied at a radical school which was based on Summerhill, which is a school in England celebrating nonauthoritarianism and freedom. Zoe’s daughter was Fei-jin (Faye) Moy who was a nurse serving with the Flying Tigers which was a group of American pilots who fought against the Japanese in WWII. Faye’s daughter is Margaret “Greta” Moy who created a dating app for women. Ford was inspired by a real dating app, “Siren”. This app was launched in 2015 and was wildly successful. But in real life, other apps with more venture capital backing (generally given to men) pushed out Siren. Greta’s daughter is Dorothy Moy. She is the main character in the novel. She suffers from depression, and is concerned that her daughter, Annabel, will inherit her depression and mental health issues. Ford centers his story on Dorothy, in the year 2045. Given this is the future, Ford devises his own experimental treatments that Dorothy undergoes to unearth her generational trauma. Slowly, Dorothy connects to these ancestorial women through mind altering medications. This is where he lost me, this sci-fi interpretation of time travel. Ford did a great job of solicitating the readers’ empathy for what Dorothy is undergoing. Adding to her mental health struggles is a horrendous mother-in-law and a distant husband. What I enjoyed most is Ford’s historical fiction pieces of the women preceding Dorothy. I found Faye and Afong to be the most interesting characters. I enjoyed his ability to weave history into his story. He also added an unrequited love who follows each of Afong’s decedents. Ford also shows how historically woman had little agency over their bodies and lives. Through each of Afong’s decedents, he shows the improvements and continued flaws in the way women are regarded. Ford provided scientific information supporting the idea of epigenetics, yet I didn’t buy it, or more appropriately I don’t understand how it works. This is an interesting story, yet I am not persuaded into his premise of epigenetic inherited trauma. And the audio did not work for me!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I found it hard to follow this book and rate it 3.5 stars rounded down. The book consists of multiple women, all daughters of Afong Moy. Each chapter is about a separate woman and the chapters go back and forth in time with the various women. About halfway through the book, one character goes to an unusual doctor who is experimenting with bringing back memories of ancestors that were passed on epigenetically(term explained in the book). The time span is 1836 to 2086 and the years are shown at th I found it hard to follow this book and rate it 3.5 stars rounded down. The book consists of multiple women, all daughters of Afong Moy. Each chapter is about a separate woman and the chapters go back and forth in time with the various women. About halfway through the book, one character goes to an unusual doctor who is experimenting with bringing back memories of ancestors that were passed on epigenetically(term explained in the book). The time span is 1836 to 2086 and the years are shown at the head of each chapter, along with the character's name. The ending ties all the chapters/women together. If you like feel good endings, then you might like this book. The author describes some of the discrimination and hardships that Chinese immigrants faced in the US. One quote: "Karma is like a suitcase. You have to be unafraid to open it up and look at what's inside, to unpack the things you don't need. Karma is the climate of the past, which shapes how much leeway we have in the future." Thanks to Atria books for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars The premise is interesting, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I’m a fan of Jamie Ford’s books and I love how he honors his great grandfather by writing about about Chinese people and how there usually are real events or people from history that serve as inspiration for his stories. I had never heard of epigenetics until this novel, but because it was written by Ford, I decided to give it a chance. It’s a science and there are numerous articles you can find on the web explaining it, a 3.5 stars The premise is interesting, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I’m a fan of Jamie Ford’s books and I love how he honors his great grandfather by writing about about Chinese people and how there usually are real events or people from history that serve as inspiration for his stories. I had never heard of epigenetics until this novel, but because it was written by Ford, I decided to give it a chance. It’s a science and there are numerous articles you can find on the web explaining it, articles which discuss the shared trauma aspects of it. I’ll leave it at that rather than trying to explain something I don’t quite understand. It is, though, an intriguing topic and Ford’s wonderful story telling capabilities are reflected in the stories of multiple generations of women, focusing on their shared trauma. What worked for me was the characters, the historical and cultural reflections and their connections, their personal stories and, yes their shared trauma. I was taken by Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to come to the US. Her story is interesting and sad. What didn’t work for me was the way in which Dorothy Moy in 2045 makes that connection with her ancestors through an experimental treatment. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what happens and suspend my disbelief. I found it difficult at times to get what was happening. Because I did find some of the things that I loved in those earlier novels in this one, I’ll round up to 4 stars and I will continue to look for what Jamie Ford writes. I received an advanced copy of this book from Atria Books through Edelweiss and NetGalley.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kerrin

    The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is one of the more unique novels I have read in a while. It is part historical fiction, part modern-day, and part science fiction that includes climate change complications. In 1834, the real-life Afong Moy was the first known Chinese woman to immigrate to America. She spent approximately 17 years traveling across the United States performing under the name the “Chinese Lady.” Patrons were curious about her bound feet, clothing, the songs she sang, her make-up, etc The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is one of the more unique novels I have read in a while. It is part historical fiction, part modern-day, and part science fiction that includes climate change complications. In 1834, the real-life Afong Moy was the first known Chinese woman to immigrate to America. She spent approximately 17 years traveling across the United States performing under the name the “Chinese Lady.” Patrons were curious about her bound feet, clothing, the songs she sang, her make-up, etc. Author Jamie Ford uses Afong as inspiration for this novel about transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Afong’s female descendants apparently have inherited the trauma that Afong endured and each additionally passes some of their own traumas to the next generation. The primary character is Dorothy Moy, who lives in Seattle, Washington in 2045. Dorothy’s crippling depression causes her to lose her academic position as well as the title of Washington’s poet laureate. When she notices her daughter, Annabelle, exhibiting some of the same behaviors Dorothy did as a child, she undergoes a new radical treatment to help her deal with her inherited trauma. In so doing, Dorothy is able to interact with Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers in 1942; Her own mother, Greta Moy, a tech executive who created a dating app in 2014; Zoe Moy, a student enamored by one of her teachers in 1927 England; Lai King Moy, a girl who barely escapes San Francisco during a plague in 1892; and of course, Afong Moy, the Chinese Lady. Dorothy realizes that each woman has a great love that is somehow denied. They all struggle with acceptance in a foreign land. In dealing with these past events Dorothy hopes to find the peace that has evaded the Moy women for generations. 4-stars. This novel was published on August 2, 2022. Many thanks to NetGalley and the Atria Marketing Team at Simon and Schuster for my advanced reader copy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I’ve enjoyed all the historical novels that Jamie Ford has written. But this is something different and I wasn’t sold on the premise. Jumping back and forth through time, from 1836 to 2085, it covers seven generations of Moy women. The premise is that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, just like a physical trait. I can understand that an author would want to try something different. But Ford’s attempt to include this weird scientific theory just didn’t work. In fact, I didn I’ve enjoyed all the historical novels that Jamie Ford has written. But this is something different and I wasn’t sold on the premise. Jumping back and forth through time, from 1836 to 2085, it covers seven generations of Moy women. The premise is that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, just like a physical trait. I can understand that an author would want to try something different. But Ford’s attempt to include this weird scientific theory just didn’t work. In fact, I didn’t get a clear understanding of this premise. It seemed that what was passed along was an endless streak of bad luck, not an initial trauma somehow being re-visited on each succeeding generation. The story worked best for me when it focuses on Afong Moy, who initially comes to the US and is exhibited throughout the country. Some of the other characters were also interesting, but the individual stories didn’t hold together to form a unified whole. All the stories were deeply depressing although the ending brought a bit of hope. In his Author’s Note, Ford outlines some of the historical events/places that inspired certain chapters. My thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    The Many Daughters of Afong Moy brings an interesting premise of generational trauma, thus exploring the subject of epigenetic inheritance. It is developed through five POVs, and it starts with Dorothy who struggles with mental health. Once, her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior, Dorothy seeks help. Through storylines of previous generations the story reveals how trauma caused in previous generations can resurface in following generations. The timelines that I connected with were t The Many Daughters of Afong Moy brings an interesting premise of generational trauma, thus exploring the subject of epigenetic inheritance. It is developed through five POVs, and it starts with Dorothy who struggles with mental health. Once, her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior, Dorothy seeks help. Through storylines of previous generations the story reveals how trauma caused in previous generations can resurface in following generations. The timelines that I connected with were the ones set in the 19th century. The modern timelines, set in present and future times, are challenging for me. In general, I do not connect with those. What interested me into this story were the premise and the writing of this author as I’ve read all his previous books, which I highly recommend. In regards to past timelines, they are written very well and are engaging. The one I connected the most was the oldest timeline of Afong Moy which is based on a true character. She is the first Chinese woman to set her tiny, bound foot on American soil and being a successful performer. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    "It's okay to miss someone. It means you loved them." I have been a fan of Jamie Ford since reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Now whenever I see he has a new book coming out, I get very excited. Jamie Ford is such a talented and gifted writer. In this book he looks at inherited trauma/multigenerational trauma. This is a huge undertaking. The book goes back and forth in time telling the stories of 7 women of previous generations. The women are: Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman "It's okay to miss someone. It means you loved them." I have been a fan of Jamie Ford since reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Now whenever I see he has a new book coming out, I get very excited. Jamie Ford is such a talented and gifted writer. In this book he looks at inherited trauma/multigenerational trauma. This is a huge undertaking. The book goes back and forth in time telling the stories of 7 women of previous generations. The women are: Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America; Faye Moy, a nurse in China, Zoe Moy, a student in England; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during an epidemic; Greta Moy, an executive for a dating app, Dorothy a poet in 2045 and her daughter, Annabelle. Ford also showcases how Chinese immigrants were treated when they came to the United States. Ford uses a creative concept as he tells the individual stories of inherited trauma and how they are connected. Whew! This was a lot for me to wrap my head around at times. The story line is different from his other books. Very different and while reading, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. What I can tell you is that his writing and passages are quite beautiful. This was different but worthwhile. "Strangers are the people we forgot we needed in this life." 3.5 stars Thank you to Atria Books and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    ’We all have some experience of a feeling, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time–of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances.’ –Charles Dickens This story covers multiple generations and times, examining epigenetics - how the trauma experienced by past generations may be passed on to the next generation, or generations. Sons of prisoners of war were affected, as were the grandchildren. There’s more to epig ’We all have some experience of a feeling, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time–of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances.’ –Charles Dickens This story covers multiple generations and times, examining epigenetics - how the trauma experienced by past generations may be passed on to the next generation, or generations. Sons of prisoners of war were affected, as were the grandchildren. There’s more to epigenetics, but in this story that’s all you really need to know. This is a story based on the life of a real woman, Afong Moy, who was recognized as the first Chinese woman to arrive in America in 1834, the first Chinese woman to set foot upon the streets of New York City, the first person from China to achieve both fame, public endorsement and recognition in America. She was invited to the White House by President Andrew Jackson. Poems were written about her by men who were fascinated by her. This story begins with Faye Moy in 1942, an unmarried nurse in her fifties has become the one that mothers point out to their daughters as a cautionary tale. It isn’t that she’d avoided marriage, but all nurses had to swear they’d never marry in order to become nurses. This story skips around in time, including the early 1830’s, 1892, 1927, 1940’s, 2014, 2045, and 2086, following Afong Moy, Faye, Greta, Dorothy, Zoe, Lai King, and Annabel. While each narrative shares different places and times, this isn’t difficult to follow, however some time frames will likely appeal to each reader on a different level. Overall, it’s a fascinating concept and story. All are related to some degree, all affected in one way or another by some degree of transgenerational trauma, and have feelings or memories from a past that is not theirs - and yet it still can be a wound, a memory that affects them physically that they carry inside them, or a flicker of a hope. An emotional and often thought provoking read at times, that speaks to the effect of trauma on both past and future generations. Published: 02 Aug 2022 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    A new epic novel from Jamie Ford spanning more than two centuries and beginning with Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set her bound foot on US soil. Seven women tell their story in this novel which explores the phenomenon of epigenetic inheritance. It took me a bit to settle in as the book hopscotches around through the various generations. Then with the therapy treatment for Dorothy (2045), her experiences cross generations. My favorite was Faye, who was a nurse in the Pacific theater duri A new epic novel from Jamie Ford spanning more than two centuries and beginning with Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set her bound foot on US soil. Seven women tell their story in this novel which explores the phenomenon of epigenetic inheritance. It took me a bit to settle in as the book hopscotches around through the various generations. Then with the therapy treatment for Dorothy (2045), her experiences cross generations. My favorite was Faye, who was a nurse in the Pacific theater during WW II. This is my first time reading a Jamie Ford novel (although I do have the others on my TBR). There is no doubt that his writing has some secret sauce. I am a fan. Thank you to Atria Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    3.5 generational trauma stars - now available This is a unique book and I admit, difficult to review! It’s a mix of historical elements, cultural elements, the life difficulties women can face, and science all thrown in the mix. There are several women’s stories in the book. I appreciated that there was a good chunk devoted to each, rather than hopping around changing characters in short chapters. Dorothy is the most contemporary character, and in fact futuristic, living in 2045 Seattle, which by t 3.5 generational trauma stars - now available This is a unique book and I admit, difficult to review! It’s a mix of historical elements, cultural elements, the life difficulties women can face, and science all thrown in the mix. There are several women’s stories in the book. I appreciated that there was a good chunk devoted to each, rather than hopping around changing characters in short chapters. Dorothy is the most contemporary character, and in fact futuristic, living in 2045 Seattle, which by the way has horrible weather with hurricanes battering the coast. Dorothy is struggling with depression, and she finds a new therapy that explores inherited trauma. She undergoes treatment in the hopes of healing the past. We learn about Dorothy’s ancestors, Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to come to the U.S. with her bound feet on display. There’s Lai King, quarantined during a plague, Faye who was a nurse in China, Zoe a student at a boarding school, and Greta, a tech genius with a dating app creation. Each woman has struggles that seem to be compounded by the women that came before them. The writing is excellent, but it’s hard to describe exactly what happens in this book. If you are open to reading something a bit different, I recommend this one. And don’t miss the author notes at the end. It was fascinating to read that epigenesis is a real science, studied for example with the children of holocaust survivors. This made for a good buddy read book, thanks Marilyn! My thanks to Atria Books for the opportunity to read and honestly review this one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I preferred Jamie's podcast 'about' this book! I preferred Jamie's podcast 'about' this book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    The concept of biologically passing on trauma responses is intriguing. There were parts where this book really frustrated me because what this particular family passed down was naivete and inaction. With the older generations it makes sense but with Greta and Dorothy you're kind of just like wtf. I come from a yelling all your feelings all the time family so it was hard for me to patiently wait for any of these women to take action. I found the ending very satisfying and I feel like whether inhe The concept of biologically passing on trauma responses is intriguing. There were parts where this book really frustrated me because what this particular family passed down was naivete and inaction. With the older generations it makes sense but with Greta and Dorothy you're kind of just like wtf. I come from a yelling all your feelings all the time family so it was hard for me to patiently wait for any of these women to take action. I found the ending very satisfying and I feel like whether inherited through genetics or observation it is our responsibility to not pass our bullshit on to our kids.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    4.5 stars Jamie Ford is one of my favorite authors, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise how delighted I was to get my hands on an advance reader’s copy of his newest novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy . In his newest work, just as he has done with his previous novels, Ford takes an event or a person in history and builds a compelling story around it, all while paying homage to his Chinese ancestry and heritage. I love this aspect of his works. With that said though, this book is actually a 4.5 stars Jamie Ford is one of my favorite authors, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise how delighted I was to get my hands on an advance reader’s copy of his newest novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy . In his newest work, just as he has done with his previous novels, Ford takes an event or a person in history and builds a compelling story around it, all while paying homage to his Chinese ancestry and heritage. I love this aspect of his works. With that said though, this book is actually a bit of a departure from Ford’s prior historical fiction works in that it leans more heavily into areas of science and technology as well as spirituality and philosophy. This book is quite a bit more complex than his other novels, which is fine, but I think it’s beneficial to know that going into this one, especially since it has the potential to affect the reading experience. For me, I had never actually heard of epigenetics prior to reading this book and even now, after reading up on the subject after finishing the book, I still don’t really understand what it is, to be very honest. While the mechanics of this science and all the terminology went completely over my head, I did catch onto the overarching concept of inherited generational trauma, which played a huge role throughout the entire story. The science part aside, there were plenty other aspects to the story that I loved: the historical and cultural elements, the beautiful writing, the meticulous storytelling, and of course, the wonderfully rendered characters. I was fascinated by the interwoven stories of the seven generations of Moy women (Afong, Lai King, Faye, Zoe, Greta, Dorothy, Annabel) in a narrative that spanned several time lines and settings — from Baltimore in 1836, to San Francisco in 1892, to England in 1927, to China in 1942, to Seattle in 2014, 2045, and 2086. Truly this is a narrative that covers past, present, and future, with strong female protagonists at its core, each with moving, poignant backstories where they endure a defining, traumatic event— these are characters I couldn’t help rooting for, even when their actions and some of the decisions they made gave me pause. Overall, I appreciated how ambitious this book was and while I didn’t always understand exactly what I was reading, it was hard not to be drawn in by Ford’s masterful storytelling. Though this wasn’t my favorite of his novels (my favorite remains Love and Other Consolation Prizes ), it was still a fantastic read that I wholeheartedly recommend. Not sure how long we’ll need to wait for Ford’s next book, but I absolutely look forward to what he may have for us next! Received ARC from Atria Books via NetGalley.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melany

    At first, I was a bit confused by this. The characters bounce between different women but not in chronological order so that was a bit confusing for me. It's such a moving and sad story about how generational trauma can affect others down the line. I truly enjoyed this once I could get over the confusion between the bouncing back and forth between all of the women. I was hoping at the ending it'd really show how the women changed the generational trauma for the best. But that never happened. Sti At first, I was a bit confused by this. The characters bounce between different women but not in chronological order so that was a bit confusing for me. It's such a moving and sad story about how generational trauma can affect others down the line. I truly enjoyed this once I could get over the confusion between the bouncing back and forth between all of the women. I was hoping at the ending it'd really show how the women changed the generational trauma for the best. But that never happened. Still such a great read! I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. All statements above are my true opinions after fully reading this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    Afong Moy is a figure of history--the first known female Chinese immigrant to the United States. In 1834, Moy was brought from her hometown of Guangzhou to New York City by traders Nathaniel and Frederick Carne and exhibited as "The Chinese Lady." Everything about her was fascinating to audiences, including her tiny bound feet, her exotic clothes, songs and dances. In his new book, Jamie Ford imagines some scenarios of her life and that of many of her female descendants. The premise of his story Afong Moy is a figure of history--the first known female Chinese immigrant to the United States. In 1834, Moy was brought from her hometown of Guangzhou to New York City by traders Nathaniel and Frederick Carne and exhibited as "The Chinese Lady." Everything about her was fascinating to audiences, including her tiny bound feet, her exotic clothes, songs and dances. In his new book, Jamie Ford imagines some scenarios of her life and that of many of her female descendants. The premise of his story is that trauma they suffered can be passed down genetically through the generations. He cites a field of study called epigenetics. I'm kind of open to that idea myself. It might answer the question of why some families seem to have so much more tragedy and loss in their lives. A quote from mathematician Norbert Wiener in the story illustrates the idea: 'We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves.' Dorothy, one of these many daughters whose own life story is set in the near future, worries that her depression will be passed on to her little daughter so she becomes more proactive to learn how to break the cycle with the hope that 'by no longer identifying as victims of the past, we are empowered to change the future.' I found the stories about each of these women to be rich and interesting, though very sad at times. I've been digging into my own family's history this past year and often think it's frustrating that we cannot really know much about who they were, other than what can be gleaned through unearthed facts and a few remembered family stories. I received an arc of this new work of historical fiction from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford was a very powerful read. I had read Jamie Ford’s book The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet many years ago and loved it so I was very excited to read this new book. It was a little confusing in the beginning since it explored several generations of women. Just as I was getting involved with one of the women’s story, another one was introduced. I have to admit I almost gave up but decided to persevere and I was glad I did. Jamie Ford brought al The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford was a very powerful read. I had read Jamie Ford’s book The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet many years ago and loved it so I was very excited to read this new book. It was a little confusing in the beginning since it explored several generations of women. Just as I was getting involved with one of the women’s story, another one was introduced. I have to admit I almost gave up but decided to persevere and I was glad I did. Jamie Ford brought all the life experiences and resulting trauma of each woman together by the end in a way that was quite satisfying. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy was a Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. When I heard Jenna talk so passionately about this book I knew I just had to read it. I listened to the audiobook that was read exceptionally well by Jennifer Lim, Mirai, Cindy Kay, Natalie Naudus, Sura Siu, Emily Woo Zeller and Nancy Woo. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy explored the themes of love, loss, separation, women’s dictated roles, motherhood, struggles and the trauma mothers pass on to their children. It viewed multigenerational trauma and how one generation passed that trauma onto the next. How would the effects of that passed on trauma be felt on future generations of women and mothers? The Many Daughters of Afong Moy plotted a unique look at the women of the Moy family and how each woman passed on an inherited trauma to her daughter until one of those women tried to put an end to it so her own daughter could live a life that was absent from trauma. It all began with Afong Moy who was the first Chinese woman to arrive and live in America. Faye Moy was a nurse in China during the 1940’s. She worked with The Flying Tigers. Zoe Moy was a young, impressionable, sensitive and artistic student that had attended a progressive school in London. Lai King Moy was sent away by her parents to protect her against a plague epidemic. She had to quarantine in San Francisco during this epidemic. Greta Moy was a very bright and talented young tech designer. She designed a dating app that was an instant success. It wasn’t until Dorothy Moy, daughter of Greta Moy and former poet laureate, was introduced that the burden of carrying these traumas was truly explored. Dorothy lived in the future (2045). She had one five year old precocious and artistic daughter. When Dorothy realized that her daughter, Annabelle, was experiencing some of the same visions and flashbacks she was, Dorothy decided to seek help. Dorothy appeared to have many mental health challenges as a result of the inherited trauma she carried. She decided to seek professional help to guide her through trying to understand what was plaguing her. Dorothy accepted help in an experimental treatment plan designed to help her manage her inherited trauma. While undergoing this treatment, a window of sight and understanding opened up for Dorothy. She was able to examine the lives and choices the women in her family who lived before her made and how those choices impacted the trauma they were burdened with. This was Dorothy’s attempt to finally break the cycle of pain and trauma the women of the Moy family were compelled to live with and pass on. Would Dorothy be successful in ending this inherited trauma? The Many Daughters of Afong Moy was well written and quite powerful. It reminded me of a book, The Long Tail of Trauma by Elizabeth Wilcox, that I had read in 2021. That book centered around trauma mothers passed on due to the effects of living through World War I or World War II. The trauma these women felt was real and made a significant impact on their daughters. I really enjoyed reading The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford and highly recommend it. Thank you to Atria Books for allowing me to read The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Publication was on August 2,

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a favorite of mine, so I was looking forward to reading the author's newest book. The plot concerns what is referred to in the book as transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: when trauma experienced by ancestors affects their descendants for many generations. We meet women from the 19th and 20th centuries, and some from the future. I found the stories disjointed, as the narrative jumped from one woman's story to another just as I felt I was getting t Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a favorite of mine, so I was looking forward to reading the author's newest book. The plot concerns what is referred to in the book as transgenerational epigenetic inheritance: when trauma experienced by ancestors affects their descendants for many generations. We meet women from the 19th and 20th centuries, and some from the future. I found the stories disjointed, as the narrative jumped from one woman's story to another just as I felt I was getting to "know" them. The way the women were treated was uniformly bad, which made for a depressing read. I was disappointed, but I did like the ending. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Qian Julie

    Fans of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet rejoice: Jamie Ford has done it again. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is a searing and vibrant epic of generational love, trauma, and healing. In his trademark poignant prose, Ford breathes Afong Moy and her descendants to life with dimension and power. This is a book that will stay with readers and reshape how they engage with their own lives and legacies. To read it is to be transformed--and to transcend.

  21. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    This highly original novel spans over 250 years. In 1836, Afong Moy becomes the first Chinese woman to immigrate to the United States. Her story is a poignant one. The lives of her ancestors are also tragic. The Moys women include Faye, a nurse serving in China during World War II; Faye’s mother, Lai King Moy; Zoe Moy and Greta Moy who, in 2014, is living in Seattle and is a tech genius. By the time it is 2045, Dorothy Moy, a poet and teacher, is filled with memories that are clearly not her own This highly original novel spans over 250 years. In 1836, Afong Moy becomes the first Chinese woman to immigrate to the United States. Her story is a poignant one. The lives of her ancestors are also tragic. The Moys women include Faye, a nurse serving in China during World War II; Faye’s mother, Lai King Moy; Zoe Moy and Greta Moy who, in 2014, is living in Seattle and is a tech genius. By the time it is 2045, Dorothy Moy, a poet and teacher, is filled with memories that are clearly not her own. Her partner, and father to her daughter Annabel, is unsupportive. Dorothy’s therapist feels she is a perfect candidate for experimental treatment in epigenetics, which studies the transmission of trauma through genetics. Trauma is something each of the seven generations of women have experienced. Is there a chance to stop the past from repeating? The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is an intriguing, thought-provoking story by author Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet). The lives of each of the Moy women were interesting and heartbreaking. While Afong Moy was a real, historical figure, her family history is fictionalized. The story of her exploitation by two American promoters, however, is real and well described. She was paraded across the country in a traveling show. Her tragic life would have been worthy of a whole book. After Afong, the majority of the story is devoted to Dorothy and her own trauma and pain. Whether the subject of epigenetics provides any interest to you or not, the book is a compelling one. The experiences of each of these women during different periods in history provides the book’s greatest appeal. As the story progresses, it delves more into magical realism, which was a bit complicated yet still held my interest. A very powerful book! Many thanks to Atria Books | Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and Edelweiss+ for the opportunity read this book in advance of its publication. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    So, this book by one of my favorite authors just blew my mind. Like all of his works, it's well-written, engaging, & unforgettable. However, this story just takes his writing to another level. The ideas behind the story are so creative, and although based on real science, this book reads very much like a wonderful fantastical science fiction/fantasy tale. It reminds me a bit of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab or one of author Matt Haig's novels, yet this one is in a class all i So, this book by one of my favorite authors just blew my mind. Like all of his works, it's well-written, engaging, & unforgettable. However, this story just takes his writing to another level. The ideas behind the story are so creative, and although based on real science, this book reads very much like a wonderful fantastical science fiction/fantasy tale. It reminds me a bit of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab or one of author Matt Haig's novels, yet this one is in a class all its own. Highly recommended for fans of the author, fans of historical, dystopian, and science fiction/fantasy, or anyone else who wants to read one of the best books to come out in a while. It's truly unique and was a fascinating read. 4 1/2 stars Thanks to both NetGalley & Edelweiss+ for ARCs.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    DNF @47% I think I'm going to cut my losses with this one. The concept is a cool one- we know that epigenetic trauma is a real thing, but what if DNA also stored epigenetic memories of that tramua experienced by our ancestors? Super interesting. The execution however, I was less a fan of. This follows several generations of women and jumps around a lot. It doesn't make a lot of sense as a narrative structure and makes it hard to follow at times. On top of which, these women are treated terribly a DNF @47% I think I'm going to cut my losses with this one. The concept is a cool one- we know that epigenetic trauma is a real thing, but what if DNA also stored epigenetic memories of that tramua experienced by our ancestors? Super interesting. The execution however, I was less a fan of. This follows several generations of women and jumps around a lot. It doesn't make a lot of sense as a narrative structure and makes it hard to follow at times. On top of which, these women are treated terribly and I don't love the handling of sexual violence. Especially given that the author is male (I know the name is gender neutral and you might assume otherwise) the depiction of the trauma these women are experiencing feels a bit...exploitative maybe? I don't think that's quite the right word, but it's the closest I can get right now. Ultimately this book just isn't working for me, but I do think the ideas here are are interesting. Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy for review, all opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    What an imagination! Jamie Ford has written a new novel that spans generations, both from the past to the future. In the beginning, it read like several short stories and I had my favorites early on. But as I kept reading, the stories merged into one. Generations of daughters and the grief and struggles that they passed down were at the forefront of the story. But finally, futuristic technology enables one daughter to re-imagine the past stories in search of a better outcome for the daughters. Ove What an imagination! Jamie Ford has written a new novel that spans generations, both from the past to the future. In the beginning, it read like several short stories and I had my favorites early on. But as I kept reading, the stories merged into one. Generations of daughters and the grief and struggles that they passed down were at the forefront of the story. But finally, futuristic technology enables one daughter to re-imagine the past stories in search of a better outcome for the daughters. Overall this was a mournful story with characters that deserved better situations. I loved the thought-provoking topics and the magical realism that was woven throughout the story. Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria books for allowing me to read an advanced copy. I am happy to offer my honest review of the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *SPOILERS* Wow. Simply amazing. Jamie Ford hits it out of the park again! I am so entranced with this idea of genetic memory. I'm still not sure exactly how Dorothy's treatment helped her, but perhaps she reimagined her ancestors' past in order to improve her own. As to a stranger searching for her in each timeline, I feel like I didn't see that for most of the timelines. It was definitely there for Faye., though. And some "echoes" for both Dorothy and Annabel. Each timeline definitely had interact *SPOILERS* Wow. Simply amazing. Jamie Ford hits it out of the park again! I am so entranced with this idea of genetic memory. I'm still not sure exactly how Dorothy's treatment helped her, but perhaps she reimagined her ancestors' past in order to improve her own. As to a stranger searching for her in each timeline, I feel like I didn't see that for most of the timelines. It was definitely there for Faye., though. And some "echoes" for both Dorothy and Annabel. Each timeline definitely had interactions that were searching in some sense - for friendship, for love. Parts of the story still "hurt my brain". Much like I was always disturbed over how Marty McFly could be both in the future and the past in Back to the Future. Thinking to myself: How could this happen if it didn't happen? I'm also still not sure how Zoe fits in. Was she Faye's daughter she gave up for adoption? Some excellent sci-fi-like elements were included for the timelines in the future, making the timelines feel more authentic. Giving 4 stars instead of 5 as the book unfortunately fell subject to the current day "diversity points scale". There was no need for the forced-in male/male married couple. Also, a little creeped out by the teacher/student love story timeline. Overall, very well crafted, atmospheric for sure, and one that will stick with you. Reader Beware on the wokeness dosing in, however.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maja

    This book has such a good concept and the general world building around it is so thoughtfully constructed. This really had the potential to be a beautiful read but unfortunately fell short. It was consistently slow and din’t manage to fuel the emotional stakes which would have kept me going. The way that generational trauma is shown is also done through repeated instances of sexual and emotional abuse which feels wrong as the main focal point in a book written by a man. There are also slurs pres This book has such a good concept and the general world building around it is so thoughtfully constructed. This really had the potential to be a beautiful read but unfortunately fell short. It was consistently slow and din’t manage to fuel the emotional stakes which would have kept me going. The way that generational trauma is shown is also done through repeated instances of sexual and emotional abuse which feels wrong as the main focal point in a book written by a man. There are also slurs present against black and Romani people which are both groups which this author is not a part of. Finally, the queer representation in this book comes in the form of an obviously inappropriate child/ teacher relationship. I believe that there are always better ways to show the atmosphere of the time than including these elements. There were a few succesful moments where I felt emotional invested but by the end was simply skimming

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Gagne

    This was a fascinating concept, approached in such a unique and interesting way. Though the narrative centered around trauma, I found it surprisingly hopeful and really enjoyed the reading experience! Though there were 5 or 6 narrators, the one who the main timeline centered around was Dorothy Moy, a poet in a bad relationship trying to beat her lifelong struggle with mental health issues and protect her daughter Annabel who, at 5 years old, has started exhibiting some of the same symptoms Dorot This was a fascinating concept, approached in such a unique and interesting way. Though the narrative centered around trauma, I found it surprisingly hopeful and really enjoyed the reading experience! Though there were 5 or 6 narrators, the one who the main timeline centered around was Dorothy Moy, a poet in a bad relationship trying to beat her lifelong struggle with mental health issues and protect her daughter Annabel who, at 5 years old, has started exhibiting some of the same symptoms Dorothy has. While no other treatments have worked, she begins to find hope in a new experimental epigenetic program designed to bring back memories of her ancestors, to explore and address the traumas the women before her endured to address the pain that was passed down through their genes. In parallel with Dorothy's treatment, we explore the lives of these ancestors as well, dating all the way back to Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America. The concept of inherited trauma is a fascinating one, and makes for a very interesting exploration with the intersection of science and spirituality. The Buddhist philosophies and even some indigenous American ideal about how we inherit memory really complemented the scientific theory well. I enjoyed the discussions of rebirth and karma and found the explanations of these topics to be enlightening (at one point a monk points out that even saying 'past lives' is a misconception because it implies there is one main lifeline, bringing up instead a metaphor of an acorn sprouting life into a tree that bears nothing of the original acorn, then scattering hundreds of new acorns from its branches). My one issue was that it did get a bit challenging to keep track of everyone. With so many narrators in so many different timelines, I found myself frequently stopping to try and remember who was who, or whose grandmother was whose. Not sure there would have been any way to avoid that, and the simple family tree at the front proved useful (I did flip back to it often for reference). I also would commend the author, Jamie Ford, for how he handled this type of woman-centric story - so often, male authors create female leads that are oversimplified, reductive, or rely heavily on common tropes; Ford took on the task of creating six complex female leads spanning hundreds of years and numerous generations, even taking on difficult mother-daughter bonds, and he was extremely successful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I wanted to love this book - I really, really did but it just had way too much going on and I confess I got lost in the weeds. Told from multiple POVs across multiple timelines, this book read more like a series of slightly interconnected short stories. Some characters were stronger than others for me. I really liked Greta's story about being a kick-ass tech start-up CEO, finding success (and losing it) and the man her parents try to set her up with. I wanted more of her story. Overall this was I wanted to love this book - I really, really did but it just had way too much going on and I confess I got lost in the weeds. Told from multiple POVs across multiple timelines, this book read more like a series of slightly interconnected short stories. Some characters were stronger than others for me. I really liked Greta's story about being a kick-ass tech start-up CEO, finding success (and losing it) and the man her parents try to set her up with. I wanted more of her story. Overall this was a complex story that will definitely make you think hard. I feel like I need to read it again just to try to absorb more of everything that happened across the various stories! Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review and Librofm for an ALC!

  29. 4 out of 5

    faibolt

    I love an epic multi-generation family saga but this one wasn’t my favourite. I think the authors biggest mistake was not telling each of the ”daughters” stories in chronological order. I struggled keeping track. Dorothy was the one who had most focus and in my opinion was the most boring. I wanted more time with the others - I loved them all. The epigenetic science experiment was a bit over my head, I glazed over most of it. I do give kudos to the author for all the research he put into this th I love an epic multi-generation family saga but this one wasn’t my favourite. I think the authors biggest mistake was not telling each of the ”daughters” stories in chronological order. I struggled keeping track. Dorothy was the one who had most focus and in my opinion was the most boring. I wanted more time with the others - I loved them all. The epigenetic science experiment was a bit over my head, I glazed over most of it. I do give kudos to the author for all the research he put into this though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publishers. Memory is funny. What we remember can pop up at strange times, and sometimes we don’t quite know where that memory comes from, that one that flashes and gives that weird, unreal sense. We also know that there is intergenerational trauma and memory. We are sum of ourselves and our forebears. Ford’s new novel is a about those intergenerational memories and trauma. Starting with Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America (and a real historical f Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publishers. Memory is funny. What we remember can pop up at strange times, and sometimes we don’t quite know where that memory comes from, that one that flashes and gives that weird, unreal sense. We also know that there is intergenerational trauma and memory. We are sum of ourselves and our forebears. Ford’s new novel is a about those intergenerational memories and trauma. Starting with Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman in America (and a real historical figure) and running though her female descendants. The novel’s time periods range from pre-Civil to the near future. It is at once historical fiction and science fiction (heavily based on science). This type of book succeeds or fails on the weight of its casts – in this case Afong and her daughters- and the ability of the writer to make not only the women stand out from each other but not to repeat, what in essence would be the same story. While there are some similarities in the stories of the daughters -a desire to find a loved one, to know what happened to a loved one (and it is possible that these loved ones are descendants of a lost love of Afong Moy herself) – there is enough difference in character for the women to stand. Dorothy and Faye might be related but there are thousands of miles from each other, and not just in a geographic and time sense. While some of the women find themselves caught in events of international or national importance – Faye works as a nurse in China during the Second World War II, Lai King Moy is in San Francisco during an outbreak of plague – but also during less important, though no less real historical events. For instance, Zoe is attending a radical school in England. The tragedies the women go though are not the same tragedy and one could argue that some are more tragic than others. Yet, at no point does on feel that Ford is simply manipulating or try to manipulate the reader emotionally. There is no sallowness to the stories or to the characters. The connections between the characters outside of the bloodline is though Dorothy who starts experimental therapy to come to terms with the trauma that her genetic bloodline endured, and in many ways reconcile the various threads that run though the family. What exactly Dorothy does to bring herself peace from the intergenerational trauma was handled masterfully. Ford does not sugarcoat or give the pat endings. Ford, should be noted, writes women very well. Faye is written extremely well, and Ford hands a mixture satisfaction and regret extremely well. The book moves quickly, and the story does give one hope for a type of peace.

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