The bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet returns with another spellbinding tale of memory’s power to bind us together. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy connects women who are generations and worlds apart.
Dorothy Moy lives in Seattle in 2045. A depressive and anxious 31-year-old poet, Dorothy experiences flashbacks, but not of her own experiences; she sees people and places that are unfamiliar to her. Then Dorothy’s 5-year-old daughter, Annabel, begins to exhibit peculiar behavior, describing visions she’s seen and talking about a boy looking for her. Hoping to spare her daughter a life of perpetual disquiet, Dorothy turns to epigenetics, the study of how behavior and trauma can be passed down through generations. She begins experimental therapy to discover the origins of her mysterious memories.
Ford’s writing is seductive as he intertwines the lives of Dorothy, Annabel and their ancestors within a rich swirl of history and imagination. We meet Afong, inspired by the first Chinese woman to immigrate to the U.S. in 1834, who tours the country as a spectacle for theatergoers; Lai King Moy, a young girl living through the bubonic plague outbreak in early 1900s San Francisco; Faye Moy, a nurse in her 50s who’s serving with the Flying Tigers, a combat air squadron, to fight against the Japanese during World War II; Zoe Moy, a student at an unconventional boarding school in 1927 England; and Greta Moy, a single woman in 2014 who develops a dating app just for women.
As Ford unravels the intriguing stories behind Dorothy’s recollections, he leads readers through her process of reconciling inherited memory with her present reality. The unfurling of ancestry and the passage of time are masterfully controlled and poetic, sumptuous and stark. Each time period is as expansive as the next, and within these eras, Ford plumbs the different sociocultural views and the changing roles and expectations of women, all while highlighting his strong characterization.
Exploring the bonds that transcend physical space, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy is an enthralling, centuries-spanning tale, a masterful saga that’s perfect for fans of The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain.