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Lady Tan's Circle of Women Bets On...

Lady Tan's Circle of Women

June 2023

I still remember where I was in 2005 when I read SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. Having read all of Lisa See’s historical novels, as well as her memoir, ON GOLD MOUNTAIN, I am happy to report that LADY TAN’S CIRCLE OF WOMEN is her best book to date. The story is completely absorbing from page one. Honestly, if you told me that I would have interest in a woman who was practicing medicine in the 15th century, I would doubt you. But Lisa vividly weaves a story of the esteemed families of the time --- and those who surround them --- sharing details that had me feeling like I was inside the gates of these palatial homes.

The culture of these times, with its strict rules on what women can and cannot do, is one side of the story. Another is the culture of how people of a certain standing are not allowed to touch blood, including doctors. As a result, there are women who are midwives, and their role is subservient to doctors and high-class women. Since women’s bodies go through the same life cycle, no matter what your station in life is, the idea that a woman could practice medicine --- and still be esteemed --- was rare. So Tan Yunxian’s training as a doctor, the knowledge of which is passed down to her from her grandmother, makes her exceptional for her time.

Lisa’s in-depth research infuses the book rather than bog it down. She has that gentle touch.

Woven later into the story is a mystery, which one would not expect, but the way it was dealt with gave readers insight into how investigations unfolded and justice was meted out. Oh, and if you did not read SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, you will be googling “foot binding.” For those of us who did read it, the memories will crop up. Book clubs, get this one on your calendar!

Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1982117095
  • ISBN-13: 9781982117092