The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick
The New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet returns with a powerful exploration of the love that binds a family across the generations in “one of the most beautiful books of motherhood and what we pass on to those that come after us” (Jenna Bush Hager, Today).
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 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 the 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. Can Dorothy break the cycle of pain and abandonment to finally find peace for her daughter and love for herself? Or will she end up paying the ultimate price?
“For Jamie Ford fans both old and new, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is an unmitigated pleasure” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author) and a lyrical love story unlike any other.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This unusual novel is a dazzling tribute to the way both pain and love can transcend time. After Dorothy Moy undergoes experimental treatments to relieve the depression brought on by her inherited trauma, something strange happens—she discovers she can link into the lives of her female ancestors. Soon, Dorothy finds herself on a surreal quest through the past to heal the wounds of previous generations, hoping to stop the cycle of pain before it passes down to her own young daughter. With elements of historical fiction, science fiction, and romance, Jamie Ford’s novel weaves together a breathtaking tapestry of mother-daughter stories, following Dorothy’s Chinese lineage across continents all the way from the 1800s into the distant future. The Many Daughters of Afong Moy will make you think differently about family, history, and maybe even time itself.
Ford (Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) explores in his intriguing if melodramatic latest the connections between seven generations of women, beginning with the historical Afong Moy, noted as the first Chinese woman to immigrate to the United States. In 2045, in a storm-besieged Seattle, Afong's descendant Dorothy is having hallucinations from the points of view of women from the past. Dorothy seeks help from a Native American practitioner of the experimental "science" of epigenetics, which posits that it's possible to inherit memories. The novel weaves scenes from the lives of other Moys—including a nurse in China in WWII, a student at the radical Summerhill boarding school in Great Britain, a young woman crossing the Pacific, and more—with scenes of Dorothy's increasingly frantic attempts to hold onto some sort of sanity as a monsoon hits Seattle and her mind shifts between the present and the distant past. Ford sometimes bogs this down with explanations of epigenetics, and some might roll their eyes at the pat ending, but the individual accounts of the women in the family can be gripping. There's some good storytelling here, but this doesn't quite stand out amid an increasingly full shelf of multigenerational climate epics.
Poetic time traveling
Although it took me a while to get through this book, every time I picked it back up it didn’t take long to get into it again. The story is very poetic but also very futuristic. There are many singular lines that caused me to feel a tiny bit of heartbreak or heart-swell.
Middle of the Road
It wasn’t What I thought it was going to be. Parts were interesting but that’s all. Too futuristic and eastern religion for me.