Cover Image: Lady Tan's Circle of Women

Lady Tan's Circle of Women

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Member Reviews

This is one of those historical fiction books that immediately transport you straight from your couch to the time and place of the story!   Grab a cup of tea, snuggle under a blanket, and prepare to immerse yourself in sights and sounds of the late 1400s in China.  

The book follows the based-on-a-true story trials and hardships of Yunxian's life.  Yunzian has moments of fortune and moments of despair as she learns to practice medicine during the Ming Dynasty in China.  The attention to detail concerning daily life, customs, and medical practices of this time make me want to learn more about the Ming Dynasty and the women who lived then.  

NetGalley and the publisher provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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In "Lady Tan's Circle of Women" Lisa See transports us to 15th-16th century China.,  Our storyteller, Tan Yunxian, is a young girl born into the Confucian scholar-elite class.. Her mother has died and  her father travels as he continues his scholarly pursuits and chases the dream of being presented to the Emperor as an Imperial Scholar.  Yunxian is raised by her paternal grandparents and one of her father's concubines, Miss Zhao,  who is also the mother to her half brother..  Her grandmother is a rare thing - a woman doctor in the time when, according to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,”  Yunxian is matched with a young peasant girl, Meiling, who will be bound to her for life. These are but a few of the women in Tan's circle. 

Yunxian is trained by her grandmother to diagnose and treat women's illnesses.  She is encouraged to write about her cases and log all her treatments and results. Meiling is training to be a midwife, like her mother,  While a doctor will never touch blood a midwife works in a world full of the" tainted". life source.. YunXian has bound feet as part of her elite class traditions.  This is to make her more alluring to her future husband.. 
 Meiling has not had her feet bound, so she is able to move more freely. Together, they make a formidable team.

Yunxian is arranged to marry into the Yang family. and moves to her new husband's family home.  She must learn to navigate this new world and be subservient and please her mother in law as her grandmother still pushes her progress with her medical tutelage .  She sees how women are treated as possessions, being bought and sold. Valued only to provide a male heir and discarded if they fail to do so.

Yunxian is faced with an ultimate medical case- one that will determine the fate of her children and the women that surround her. It is here that we see how the fires of her trials have forged.

Lisa See creates a vivid world with her words.  The story is intricately detailed, but not weighed down with the vast amounts of research that obviously went into this tale.   This is based upon a real woman doctor of the time., which leaves me in awe. 

This is study of the value of woman's from all parts of society both then and now.   It is a testament to the unique bonds that women have with each other as mothers, daughters, sister friends and mentors. Extremely intimate bonds are created at a time when words and actions could not allow you to create those ties in the way that we can now..

This is my favorite of Lisa See's novels since "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan".  She continues to be one of my favorite authors and I continue to look forward to each of her new works..

My thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I received this Advance Readers Copy (ARC) from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed Lisa See's writing in "The Island of Sea Women," and "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane" -- but I am not as big a fan of her other novels, such as "Snowflower and the Secret Fan." 

This novel was very interesting and I found it compelling, but it felt as if there was an unnecessary distance between the reader and the protagonist. I enjoyed it, but I doubt I will think of the novel's characters again months or years later -- as I have with the other Lisa See novels that I mentioned above. Her work was incredibly poignant in "The Island of Sea Women", and I have thought about the protagonist from that novel dozens of times since I read it for the first and only time in 2019/2020. 

If you enjoyed "Snowflower and the Secret Fan", I strongly recommend this new novel by See. I think Lady Tan is a truly interesting and fascinating woman in her era, and See manages to pull together an unusual story from history. However, the Imperial visit and criminal inquests plot points seem a bit far fetched to me. 

Overall I enjoyed this story but I feel there could have been more immediacy to the writing, to truly bring the reader into the story.
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You always learn something new in a Lisa See book. This is not my favorite, 
but it was interesting.  She puts so much work into resesrch. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
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I am a fan of Lisa See's work, so was thrilled to read "Lady Tan's Circle of Women." The details, rituals, beauty and ugliness of Yunxian's life immediately captured my interest. This story demonstrates the power of women, and the instrinsic value of their friendships. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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Several years ago, my best friend and I had the opportunity to see/meet Lisa See, at an author's luncheon.  I was so intrigued not only by the book (The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane), and then fell in absolute LOVE with The Island of the Sea Women.  When I saw the new title was to be published, Lady Tan's Circle of Women I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  This one was beautiful, based on the author's painstaking research, and such a interesting book of historical fiction that I'll be thinking about it for some time.  The manner in which women lived, midwives, women with a great knowledge of Eastern Medicine and more.  I'm not sure I could have loved this book more.  Trust me and preorder or purchased this book right away.  A huge thanks to Scribner Books, NetGalley and the author for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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I've read a number of Lisa See's earlier novels, so jumped at the chance to read her latest work. "Lady Tan's Circle of Women" takes us back to China during the Ming Dynasty in the 15th-16th century, told from the perspective of Tan Yunxian, a woman born into an elite family due to the position her father holds as an imperial scholar. As a young child, Yunxian is raised by the women around her - her grandmother who works as a rare female, her mother, and her father's concubine, Miss Zhao. Unfortunately, as a child, Yunxian loses her mother to infection and she barely has time to grieve before she's betrothed to son of a Yang family. Thankfully, she's able to have Meiling at her side, the daughter of a midwife - a group of women who are looked upon poorly given how frequently they encounter "tainted substances" like blood and gore.

The story follows Yunxian as she becomes a wife and mother, and how she's able to utilize her medical learnings from her grandmother to help the women around her. We watch as well as her relationships to the women surrounding her - to Meiling, her mother-in-law, her daughters - evolves and change over time. The novel is a cutting look into the treatment of women centuries ago in China (and, to be fair, many parts of the world) and how one woman championed the focus on health and medicine specific to women.

While I appreciated the premise of this novel, this was not my favorite work of See's. I struggled with the writing, especially as it was told in the first person perspective of Yunxian; much of the prose felt restricted and deliberate, a mere retelling of events as they unfolded. There were so many events and occurrences that happened - the painful footbinding of women, the selling and buying of concubines, the punishments doled out to women for things outside of their control - that infuriated me, but are merely glossed over. Yunxian seemed like a passive observer to her own life, and it was only in the final fourth of the novel that I felt like she developed a stronger personality and morality, taking her own life in her hands and choosing to utilize her skills to help those around her.

I nonetheless believe this is a novel that many will appreciate, especially given the extent of research See has done for it and the factual basis to a number of these characters and cases.
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There are few books that can entertain and educate. This book does that. It draws  you in with characters and their relationships as well as delving into the medical practices of 15th century China.. it also includes some serious plot twists that completely surprised me. I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, so I hoped this book would be just as good. I was not disappointed.
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Lisa See is one of my favorite authors of all time. She has done it again and created another enthralling novel. In Lady Tan's Circle of Women, we are transported to 15th century China where we follow the lives of Yunxian, a young woman studying medicine under her esteemed grandmother and Meiling a young midwife.

This was an exquisitely researched and well written novel based on the true story of Yunxian. I savored every second of this book...I did not want it to end.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this beautiful book!!
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I’ve always been interested in Chinese medicine, and in the past few months, I’ve read a few titles related to the topic. But this by far was one of the most well-researched and compelling novels I have read. Every detail was well-researched, and you can just feel the amount of work that went into writing this story. Though this was my first novel actually from Lisa See and I originally had doubts about how it would be written, when I tell you I was glued to my kindle, I mean it. This book literally draws you in from the first page with the amount of detail See creates. Her research methods: from reading the direct transcription of Tan Yunxian’s medical records to her deep research into the tea properties and sources in 15th-century China, every word, every detail, and every object was brought into the picture with their backgrounds in mind.

The amount of detail does not take away from the fantasy See portrays, though. From the start we are whisked away into gardens upon gardens of mystery and drama, each with its own characters, settings, and relationships. The creation of individual environments combines together to make a blend of amazing world-building and story. In See’s world, every character has a beginning and end— there’s no life left incomplete. The form of the story, which takes place throughout Yunxian’s life, also showed us her progression as both a woman and a doctor. We truly see her growth throughout the book. One of my favorite quotes, “no blood, no lotus” shows exactly this. Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is not just about Yunxian’s journey in medicine but also about her perseverance as a woman.

If you were a fan of books like Strike the Zither or A Magic Steeped in Poison, this is definitely a perfect read for you! The novel will release in June and I’m so excited for the story to be shared with so many others. So grateful to Lisa See, Scribner Books, and NetGalley for providing me with this ARC! All opinions are my own.
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Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC. In this novel, Lisa See takes us back to a time where male doctors could not actually examine female patients. Out of necessity some women start training their own daughters to help other pregnant women. As is always true for Lisa See's books, this was meticulously researched and provided great insight into 15th century China.
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This book wasn't always for me, there was a lot of focus on childbirth that I personally didn't care for, but I should've realized it'd be a big factor beforehand.  However, Lisa See has done something wonderful here, breathing life into Lady Tan and giving a personal bent to her work, which we still have and was largely recorded in a book that she published during her lifetime.  See mentions that while we have her cases, very little is know of her personal life, outside of what is mentioned in the writing of her male relations.  See has done a fantastic job fleshing out Lady Tan as a character, giving her a strong personality that reflects what we can glean of her character from her case book.  I was also excited to learn that See used real cases from Tan's published works as the framework for the medical work we see from her in the novel.  I liked the cast of characters that filled out the novel, particularly Tan's friend Meiling, and I felt like See gave a good glimpse of what life was like for women in elite families during the time.  This was a well researched book, and it was fascinating to learn more about Lady Tan and her life.
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Excellent read! I love how Lisa See transports you back in time. The characters are perfect and you can't help but be invested in them. A must read on so many levels!
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Another of Lisa See's books that I loved from cover to cover. It's heartwarming and satisfying to read about the beautiful bonds of the women who support each other. But it's also sad and incomprehensible to read about horrific customs like footbinding. 

I can't imagine breaking the bones in my feet, so I can marry well. Any more than I can imagine bending to the will of my mother-in-law or purchasing a concubine for my husband. Yet all this and more are part of a woman's life in 15th-century China.

Lisa See completely transports you to this era and shows you what it's like to be a mother, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, and friend. She shows you the harshness of some relationships and the beauty of others. In addition, she excels at demonstrating the life of women in an elite family.

And finally, she allows you to understand that although most women accept the archaic customs and ideals, some, like Lady Tan, long for more and fight the battle to break free.

I enjoyed every minute of this book and highly recommend it.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for providing a complimentary copy of the book.
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Lady Tan’s Circle of Women follows the life throughout its many stages of the titular character. This well-researched work of historical fiction had well developed characters that left me thinking about them and their lives. It’s especially interesting that the novel is based on a real woman, although it is a work of fiction. 

Lisa See did a great job capturing my attention and getting me to really care about the life of a woman from so long ago. It makes you see that despite time and despite social status, all women are going through and have been going through similar problems throughout the millennia. Overall I loved this book!
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Lady Tan’s Circle of Women an enthralling story of women supporting women and was inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China. I found the resemblance of the struggles of women in the 1400’s compared to the struggles women still face today startling. 

The daily life of the different women depicted in this book was fascinating. The details of foot binging in particular were heart wrenching. I enjoyed witnessing Tan and Meiling’s friendship grow and cheered them on throughout the book. 

This is the third book I’ve read by Lisa See and would highly recommend it! 

Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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