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The Valley of Amazement | [Amy Tan]

The Valley of Amazement

Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West - until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.
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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan brings us her latest novel: a sweeping, evocative epic of two women's intertwined fates and their search for identity - from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the fog-shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village

Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West - until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.

Back in 1897 San Francisco, Violet's mother, Lucia, chooses a disastrous course as a sixteen-year-old, when her infatuation with a Chinese painter compels her to leave her home for Shanghai. Shocked by her lover's adherence to Chinese traditions, she is unable to change him, despite her unending American ingenuity.

Fueled by betrayals, both women refuse to submit to fate and societal expectations, persisting in their quests to recover what was taken from them: respect; a secure future; and, most poignantly, love from their parents, lovers, and children. To reclaim their lives, they take separate journeys - to a backwater hamlet in China, the wealthy environs of the Hudson River Valley, and, ultimately, the unknown areas of their hearts, where they discover what remains after their many failings to love and be loved. Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement transports listeners from the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty to the beginning of the Republic and recaptures the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreigners living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II. A deeply evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, imbued with Tan's characteristic insight and humor, The Valley of Amazement conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and obstinacy of love.

©2013 Amy Tan (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (1532 )
5 star
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3.7 (1370 )
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4.1 (1351 )
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2 star
 (69)
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 (61)
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  •  
    Sharon Lakeport, CA, United States 11-12-13
    Sharon Lakeport, CA, United States 11-12-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    "AWFUL AND SAD"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No one


    What was most disappointing about Amy Tan’s story?

    It is generic, and sad. I know that Any is a talented writer but she didn't use any of her talent in this book. No imagination, to wit, or charm.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Different narrators, get rid of the Disney chick, and wake Amy up before she reads.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    NONE


    17 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Serena Laguna Vista TX 02-01-15
    Serena Laguna Vista TX 02-01-15

    Serena

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So awesome"

    I'm a reader so I was skeptical that I could listen to a book and enjoy it. The narration pulled me in and I couldn't wait each day to get in my car for my commute with Amy Tan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Krull Idyllwild, CA 01-28-15
    M. Krull Idyllwild, CA 01-28-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amy Tan Does It Again"

    I have read several books by Amy Tan and have enjoyed them all. Her writing brings to life the characters she writes about, as well as the settings where the events take place. Some readers may be put off by the descriptions of life in the courtesan houses, but their existence is historically documented, and the experiences of the women and girls who worked in the houses were not imaginary.

    The narration was well done and held my interest throughout the story. If you are a fan of Amy Tan, don't skip this because of some negative reviews. It is well worth reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rachel kohls-lunt 01-28-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Simply Amazing"

    A wonderful story focusing on three generations of women, yet extending even further. Read with emotion enough to give the listener a real sense of imagery in tone and inflection. The readers capture the unique mannerisms of each character.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Franks New York, NY United States 01-28-15
    Cynthia Franks New York, NY United States 01-28-15 Member Since 2010

    Sootyfootyput

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Once you start it, it is hard to stop."

    Pulls you into a different experience of the world; yet tells a story that any son, daughter, mother, father will feel.

    From the first word, you find yourself in the rich, exotic world of Chinese courtesan houses in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Shanghai. It follows the story of half-American, half-Chinese Violet Minturn from age seven into her forties as she lives and loves in Shanghai. It is a tremendous tale of three women; mother, daughter, and granddaughter; who live different lives but the bond between them is unbroken despite separations of distance and time. It taps  something I have come to realize the last few years, my mother lives in me.

    For the writers, much craft can be gleaned from this book. Ask yourself why Amy Tan chose to tell Lucia’s story so late in the book? It is an inspired piece of storytelling from a master. A great example of how sex scenes should written and can be a pivotal part of a story and not set decoration.

    The audio performances by Nancy Wu, Joyce Bean and Amy Tan bring the characters to life. However, this is not a good bedtime listen, it is too interesting and may keep you awake. Listen on the weekends. Once you start it, it is hard to stop.

    I want my own Magic Gourd!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Skip Galt 11-01-14
    Skip Galt 11-01-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    11
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    "yes. everyone does want to know they are loved."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Excellent book making great use of creative chronology.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Aye yo!


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration of this book was superb. It had so many different language and subtle culture shifts that the narrators seemed to express perfectly.


    If you could take any character from The Valley of Amazement out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Wait, is this a solicitation for a cortizan?


    Any additional comments?

    Aye yo! Does it really take 24 hours of audio to express the sentiment that all of us want to be loved and it is our greatest fear that we are not?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rhonda Sarasota, FL, United States 10-27-14
    Rhonda Sarasota, FL, United States 10-27-14 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Nice read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, nice story, good characters, interesting descriptions of historical social customs


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    Narrators made the separate characters recognizable; good pace


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.E. New York, NY, United States 03-26-14
    M.E. New York, NY, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "I can't believe Amy Tan wrote this!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This could have been a typical 5-star Amy Tan book if the story was not about self-centered, whining, stupid people.


    Has The Valley of Amazement turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I don't understand how Amy Tan could have written such a terrible book. I've always loved her work and finished he books on one or two days. The VoA was painful to listen to, I forced myself to finish in hopes it would improve. It never did.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Hated every character in this book.


    What character would you cut from The Valley of Amazement?

    This whole book should never had made it past the editor.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your time with this one. Go back to Amy Tan's first books, so much better.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rkr4cds 03-24-14
    rkr4cds 03-24-14

    rkr4cds

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    5
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    "A.T. tried to cover too much"
    What was most disappointing about Amy Tan’s story?

    The political angle on the times was too long & overblown. I don't care for her stories which include so much long-winded rehashing of history. It was as if the first introductory part was leading to a different book or type of story, one not expected or anticipated by A.T.


    Any additional comments?

    It would have been better if just the story about the 2 women (Mother & Daughter) had been told. A.T.: keep on doing more of what we've come to love about your work—stories about the Asian/Chinese characters and their life stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Polly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 03-14-14
    Polly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 03-14-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Don't waste your time."

    I kept listening thinking that it would get better, but it didn't happen. I couldn't finish the book. It finally got so bad that I just quit. The descriptions went on and on and on to the point that I couldn't stand to listen to the narrator--it was like fingernails on a chalk board.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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