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.
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I've read and loved most of Amy Tan's books, so I'll certainly read the next despite my disappointment in this one.
More commitment from the narrators. They seemed too detached, even in the happy parts.
I'd recast or cut the entire section where Magic Gourd is advising Violet in the arts of being a courtesan.
I'm sorry to say it, but I couldn't finish this one. Too much attention on the valleys of life without acknowledging the mountains that define them.
It was hard to read this book as anything other than a romance, bodice ripper type of novel. It certainly isn't up to the standards of Tan's previous works. Viewing it as a well written potboiler (is that a non sequitur?) allowed me to keep reading. Had I been looking for meaning, I would have put it down unfinished.
The characters are almost caricatures, who learn little if anything, and what they learn is predictable. Even the main characters aren't particularly likable, and it's hard to identify with them.
The plot is predictable, and long passages are just boring. This may be because it's larded with minutiae; some description is necessary, but Tan takes it to ridiculous, and somewhat dull, levels.
There are many passages where the reader can just skim through at a good clip, without losing anything necessary for comprehension.
The use of three narrators saves the book and weighted in the balance when I was deciding to stop reading or not. The breathe life into the characters, and add interest.
Overall, I don't recommend the book. I bought the companion Kindle,and without it, would probably not have finished the book. I did, but was glad to be done with it.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Amy Tan’s new book is narrated by seven year old Violet Minturn. Violet is an American girl born in Shanghai, of an American mother and Chinese father, but she American in manner and speech, who can also speak Chinese. Her Mother Lulu is the only white woman who owns a first-class courtesan house in 1905 Shanghai. She caters to both the western client and the wealthy Chinese. Violet learns early that her Mother‘s profession is not about sex but illusion. Tan depicts Lulu as an acute business woman able to take advantage of business opportunities in Shanghai. The story’s plot twist and turns, a life changing betrayal has Violet sold off to a courtesan house and Lulu on her way to San Francisco thinking Violet is dead. The story ranges from 1900 to 1939 during the turbulent times of World War One, the 1918 flu pandemic to the rise of Chian Kai-Shek and the Chinese Communist party to the brink of World War II, through all this Tan weaves the story of Lulu and Violet. Tan’s great descriptions and twisty plot makes for a book that is hard to put down. Three women narrate the book Nancy Wo, Joyce Bean and Amy tan.
I had to stop listening when the molestation of a fifteen year old was graphic. It was graphic and if it were on film, the makers of the film and/or possessors of the film would be arrested for child pornography. I get that it is a period piece and depicting other cultures but it is still inappropriate and immoral to glamorize this in an erotic manner.
I will not purchase another Amy Tan book.
It is sad to see the decline in this authors writing.
I was hopeful that this story would be enlightening and interesting and was disappointed. The story was not boring but it did not capture my attention as I had wanted it to do. The story covers a long period of time but it also seem to drone on at times especially towards the end of the book. The latter part of the book was also seen from different characters perspectives and was a bit confusing at times.
The audio performance was much better than the book!
Sadly, the unlikeable characters and their disturbing and unending stories make for a tough go.
I was curious about what new material Amy Tan could mine. I persisted in reading simply to see if she could turn around this unlikeable set of characters and conditions into an interesting and plausible story. Alas, it was not to be.
This was a very disappointing production in comparison to the great work she has done previously.
I, too, bought this book, based on the familiarity of Amy Tan's appearance on the book shelves for many years. This book left me sorely wondering why I bothered. Tedious, pointless drivel that goes on and on about descriptions and points I'd rather not continue to delve deeper into, yet it does. I am a little more half-way through the book and sadly, it hasn't improved. Fantastic idea, poor execution. I will give Amy Tan another go with one of her others, but if you are considering this one, I would suggest to move on.
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.
Different narrators, get rid of the Disney chick, and wake Amy up before she reads.
I honestly don't know how this got 4 stars!! I love Amy Tan, but this story was disturbing and way too long. It is 26 hours!! Moby Dick is only 21 hours. It started out great...I was really getting into the story, but then it took a really bad turn after about hour 10 and started to really unravel for me. I liked the characters for the most part, but after a while it was hard to stay committed because of the unforgiving tendencies of some of the characters. I actually fast forwarded after hour 12 just to get through it and found that I didn't feel the loss of what I may have missed. The narrating in the beginning was great, but along with the storyline, it too, fell apart. Toward the end It sounded like two different people were narrating the same character at times and so it was hard to distinguish the characters storylines. Maybe you will have a different experience than me, but I cannot recommend this audiobook.
Love Amy Tan, usually love her books
This one was well-written and starts off interesting but just goes on and on with the suffering with little payoff. Very sad.
"Draws you from word to word, you can't stop."
I always find that the second read or listen of any good book gleans much more from it, the first time is all about the plot, the second time I get sub themes, poetry in the prose and other gems.
Violet, poor damaged violet who started her life with such a burden and never stopped fitting back.
When Golden lotus laid out the rules of a courtesan.
When they took little flora away.
This book,like all Amy Tan's novels does not disappoint. It is not great literature, its a compelling read. I always like a good ponder on the sins of the Fathers.
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