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.
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!
This could have been a typical 5-star Amy Tan book if the story was not about self-centered, whining, stupid people.
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.
Hated every character in this book.
This whole book should never had made it past the editor.
Don't waste your time with this one. Go back to Amy Tan's first books, so much better.
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.
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.
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.
Say something about yourself!
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 is an epic story of the lives of many women in China in the early 20th century. Starting with Lucretia who makes a decision to have a fling with a Chinese student house guest and falls pregnant. She follows him to China where the story really begins...
Magic Gourd - such a resourceful, loyal, opinionated, caring and funny mother figure. She just rolls up her sleeves and gets it done.
It was fascinating to peek behind the silk curtain of courtesan life in China, how women are treated on both sides of the respectable / not respectable divide and how those norms changed with western influences.
Yes - but it would be the print title. The (over) performance here is like a thick layer of fondant one has to break through to get at the good stuff. Am wondering what author Amy Tan (one of the narrators) was thinking...
The story line.
wickedly overperformed... even dialed back 50% would have been over-the-top. It's intrusive and annoying to have the narrator/s so in your face.
Please change the producers/narrator if you do...
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.
Really questionable now. I have read some of her earlier books and loved them but this one was terrible. Thinly disguised soft porn, long and boring descriptions and unconvincing story line.
I did not return this book, but probably should have!
The story was wonderful. I was sucked into the storyline almost instantly. I love the relationships between the characters, they were so intricate and not connected in a typical way. I loved that I was on the edge of my seat and could really feel for the characters.
I don't have a particular favorite character, I loved them all. Although when the book switches to the different perspectives of the characters, it really gives you a better sense of how the character is feeling and why they are making certain decisions.
I have listened to all of the other available books by Amy Tan and I've liked them all, when she does the narrating herself, it does seem a little flat, but the story makes up for it. Plus, I like that I get to hear the author tell the story with her own voice in parts, knowing that she wrote the story.
This book has gotten some really unfair reviews, and I couldn't disagree more. This is my far my favorite Amy Tan book so far. I'm hoping that she does another book that is a sequel or something similar.
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