Lisa See: Lady Tan’s Circle of Women (IN PERSON)
Beloved author Lisa See reads from and discusses her captivating and vivid new novel Lady Tan’s Circle of Women. Set in 15th century China, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a fictional retelling of the life of one remarkable woman, Tan Yunxian, a female doctor whose book (translated variously as The Saying of a Woman Doctor, Miscellaneous Records of a Female Doctor, and The Comments of a Female Physician) contains formulas still used today in traditional Chinese medicine. See is joined in conversation by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, a novelist, short story writer, journalist and member of the AWM’s Board of Trustees.
This is an in-person program at the American Writers Museum. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the link to the online broadcast here.
More about Lady Tan’s Circle of Women:
When she was a young girl, Yunxian’s beloved grandmother arranged for her to befriend Meiling, the daughter of the local midwife. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, a relationship of huge importance for both women.
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women traces the lives of these two girls through the traditional stages of womanhood: Milk Days (childhood); Hair Pinning Days (marriageable age); Rice and Salt Days (marriage, childbirth, and motherhood); and Sitting Quietly (old age). Throughout these stages, and against the backdrop of enormous challenges, turbulence, and change, the two marry, have children, and pursue their chosen careers. Yunxian initially has a harder time; as a child of extreme privilege, she is married when she is young and must follow the rules of her new family and mother-in-law, who is less than sanguine about having a female doctor in the family. Meiling, from a humble family, has followed in her mother’s footsteps and is free to practice her trade, but a scandal in her practice means that she must work twice as hard to support her suddenly precarious family.
Through years of intrigue, drama, and trouble, these two women remain touchstones in each other’s lives, until an unspeakable disaster befalls one of them, and threatens not just their friendship, families, and livelihoods, but their lives. The challenges and issues they face—an epidemic, the earliest form of vaccinations, what control a woman can have over her own body—are as immediate and resonate today as they were 500 years ago, while the interest in traditional Chinese medicine is growing more popular by day.
Filled with Lisa See’s luminous writing, deep research, and emphasis on the primacy and importance of female friendship, Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a huge treat and an irresistible read for old fans and new readers alike.
LISA SEE is the New York Times bestselling author of The Island of Sea Women, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, China Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. See was the recipient of the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the Historymaker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.
JOANNE LEEDOM-ACKERMAN is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Her works of fiction include The Dark Path to the River and No Marble Angels. She is editor of The Journey of Liu Xiaobo: From Dark Horse to Nobel Laureate. A former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, Joanne is a Vice President Emeritus and former International Secretary of PEN International. She serves on the boards of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, the International Center for Journalists, Words Without Borders and Refugees International. She an emeritus board member of Poets and Writers and Human Rights Watch and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and PEN American Center, where she served as a trustee. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Writers Museum.