Lady Tan's Circle Of Women
Lisa See (Author)
Description'Despite the inordinate limits placed on women, See allows their strengths to dominate their stories' Washington Post
'Poignant . . . quietly affecting' Time
In 15th century China two women are born under the same sign, the Metal Snake. But life will take the friends on very different paths.
According to Confucius, ‘an educated woman is a worthless woman’, but Tan Yunxian – born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separation and loneliness – is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. She begins her training in medicine with her grandmother and, as she navigates the male world of medicine, requiring tact and diplomacy, she struggles against the confining world of her class.
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.
How might a woman like Yunxian break free of tradition, 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.
Praise for Lisa See
'This novel spans wars and generations, but at its heart is a beautifully rendered story of two women whose individual choices become inextricably tangled’ Jodi Picoult
'No one writes about female friendship, the dark and the light of it, with more insight and depth than Lisa See’ Sue Monk Kidd
'See’s thoughtful and empathetic book sheds necessary attention on this largely ignored event' New York Times
'A powerful and essential story of humanity' Los Angeles Review of Books
'A spellbinding portrait of a time burning with opportunity and mystery' O: The Oprah Magazine
'A lush tale infused with clear-eyed compassion' The Washington Post
Simon & Schuster Ltd
6 July 2023
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