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The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh
Contemporary fiction

The Fortunes of Jaded Women

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Carolyn Huynh, on your first book!

by Carolyn Huynh

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Quick take

In this life-affirming novel, a surprising prophecy upends a family curse that has plagued generations of Viet women.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational

    Inspirational

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration

    Immigration

Synopsis

Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew that the Dương sisters were cursed.

It started with their ancestor Oanh who dared to leave her marriage for true love—so a fearsome Vietnamese witch cursed Oanh and her descendants so that they would never find love or happiness, and the Dương women would give birth to daughters, never sons.​

Oanh’s current descendant Mai Nguyễn knows this curse well. She’s divorced, and after an explosive disagreement a decade ago, she’s estranged from her younger sisters, Minh Phạm (the middle and the mediator) and Khuyến Lâm (the youngest who swears she just runs humble coffee shops and nail salons, not Little Saigon’s underground). Though Mai’s three adult daughters, Priscilla, Thủy, and Thảo, are successful in their careers (one of them is John Cho’s dermatologist!), the same can’t be said for their love lives. Mai is convinced they might drive her to an early grave.

Desperate for guidance, she consults Auntie Hứa, her trusted psychic in Hawaii, who delivers an unexpected prediction: this year, her family will witness a marriage, a funeral, and the birth of a son. This prophecy will reunite estranged mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins—for better or for worse.

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Free sample

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The Fortunes of Jaded Women

1

Oanh Dương

Everyone in Orange County’s Little Saigon knew the Dương sisters were cursed.

They heard that the curse began in Vietnam when Oanh Dương’s ex-­mother-in-law, Lan Hoàng, had gone north to visit the reclusive witch who lived in Sa Pa, at the foot of the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountains. The trip across the volatile terrain was treacherous; only truly diabolical souls who wanted to inflict generational curses on others would be able to survive. Like all slighted Vietnamese women, Lan Hoàng wished for the type of scarring that would make her wanton daughter-in-law and all her future kin ostracized forever. She just didn’t know what that would look like.

The night Lan arrived at the quiet village, she was exhausted. The fickle weather had brought an onslaught of all four seasons within a few days, and she hadn’t been as prepared as she thought. The rustling wind had been her enemy one day, and her friend the next. Thankfully, her hired guide had enough shearling to keep her warm for the final leg of her travels. She begged him to take her to see the witch immediately. The more time wasted, the closer Oanh would be to conceiving a child.

The guide dropped Lan off in front of the tiny, all-white stone home at the foot of the mountains, and wished her luck, though he wasn’t sure if he meant it. The old man had taken many desperate women—mothers, daughters, and sisters—across the country to visit the witch, but he’d never once stepped foot inside. He knew better than to interrupt the flow of the universe. Only women were brave enough to tempt fate like that.

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Why I love it

Haven’t we all felt cursed?

I mean doomed doomed like we need Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his gaggle of genealogists to figure out why, pour quoi especially me? We sit on floors of friends’ apartments like campsites for Trader Joe’s wine, the deepest-dish pizza, and cat Tarot cards. And let’s face it—it’s a good time to be a witch.

We are not alone. And it’s not just aliens that I’m referring to but our very own moms. And their moms. And our sisters. And all the people with moms. The bard of boba, Carolyn Huynh has given us an intergenerational gift in The Fortunes of Jaded Women. In this laugh-out-loud millennial meet-cute comedy of errors full of superstitiously heavy handbags and delightful pettiness, the characters are so funny and familiar you might feel a little embarrassed for and a little more in love with yourself and the brazen ridiculous women in your life. This book is also an endearing homage to the bad-assness of immigrants and refugees, the rambunctious yet nourishing communities (and broths) we create wherever we go.

There’s real healing in this book for even the most cursed. The Fortunes of Jaded Women is a reminder that it’s not only trauma we inherit, but laughter, intimacy, and a scientific approach to choosing the best table at dim sum. Thank you, ancestors.

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Member ratings (6,468)

  • Tiffany T.

    Austin, TX

    A great read! Fantastic writing, feminist, authentic, funny, & reminiscent of the movie “Crazy, Stupid, Love”. Started off slow, but the pacing makes sense the more you read. Want a movie of this!!!!

  • Kate L.

    Massapequa Park, NY

    Messy family of Vietnamese women who’ve been cursed by never giving birth to sons. Rich characters who are complicated, cantankerous and compelling. At times funny, always engaging, never stereotypes.

  • Katherine L.

    New York, NY

    I loved this book and all the loud, messy, lovable, strong female characters! It’s a family drama with the emphasis on drama, but it was still real and genuine. I loved spending time in this world.

  • MaryBeth M.

    Columbus, OH

    What a fun read! Similar to Crazy Rich Asians & I wanted to know more about each cousin and auntie’s life in CA and Vietnam. Loved the relationship drama, shared boyfriends and emphasis on culture.

  • Samantha B.

    Jamaica Plain, MA

    I loved reading this novel. Huynh is able to craft a large cast of multi-dimensional, complicated, and consistent characters that sweep the reader up in their messy lives. I laughed, I cried; too fun!

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