Lady Tan's Circle Of Women
Lady Tan’s Circle Of Women
Lady Tan’s Circle Of Women is a historical fiction novel about one of the very few Chinese female doctors named Tan Yunxian. Yunxian’s grandmother was also a doctor who taught her the pillars of Chinese medicine and the Four Examinations looking, listening, touching and asking. Yunxian learns everything about women’s illnesses many which come from childbearing alongside a young midwife in training Meiling the two girls form a fast friendship despite their class differences. Unfortunately when Yunxian marries, her mother in law forbids her from seeing Meiling and helping the other women with what she knows. Yunxian is expected to be a proper Chinese wife which is giving birth to sons, embroidering bound foot slippers and reciting poetry. The story is about a woman of her time trying to balance being a dutiful wife while at the same time helping those in need. It also talks about women from all walks of life helping one another.
I love that Yunxian was the one telling the story instead of it being in third person. I also like that the story is about women no matter if they were single, married, rich, poor or concubines helping one another. I also love the descriptions of China during the time period especially the gardens and the palace. It was also interesting learning that Lady Tang Yunxian’s medicines are still used today after so many hundreds of years. Some might say Lady Tang Yunxian was a woman ahead of her time. I think she was a woman of her time who was remarkable then and remarkable now. Yunxian tried her best to be the dutiful wife and mother while also helping those she could in a time where women weren’t expected to be outside of the home.
There wasn’t much that I disliked honestly. Meiling wasn’t my favorite character. It seemed as though she got on Yunxian for her status which really Yunxian couldn’t help what status she was born into. The footbinding was graphic and so was that scene after Meiling and Yunxian helped the Empress. But I won’t spoil too much.
Overall this was a beautiful descriptive novel about a woman whose remarkable both now and back in her time period. Thank you Lisa See for writing about such an important woman. If you don’t have an early copy whether a hard copy or a netgalley one, pre-order this novel or put it on hold at the library so you will have it by June 6th.