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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 (1614 )
5 star
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3.8 (1445 )
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4.1 (1426 )
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  •  
    Laura Encinitas, CA, United States 04-08-15
    Laura Encinitas, CA, United States 04-08-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Took 15 minutes of listening before I was rapt"
    What made the experience of listening to The Valley of Amazement the most enjoyable?

    The voice characterizations were spot on.


    Any additional comments?

    I love Amy Tan's stories. She has a fabulous way of delivering the reader (listener) to the time and place of the story with descriptions that do not get in the way of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rickenbacker325c 03-26-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Heartwrenching"

    Amy Tan does it again! She knows how to pull at your heartstrings and she does so in a way that makes you want more. Violet's life journey is heartbreaking and just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. Violet is a strong woman that doesn't let anyone and anything bring her down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori Eden 03-25-15
    Lori Eden 03-25-15
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    REVIEWS
    12
    8
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    Story
    "Amy Tan is amazing"

    Another fabulous book that takes you on a journey through the lives of several generations of women. I loved it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LAHMOM 03-17-15
    LAHMOM 03-17-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    6
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    Story
    "Very disappointed"

    The characters were vapid. They repeatedly did things that were blatantly stupid and it was obvious what problems would result. Don't recall feeling this way about other Amy Tan novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison 03-01-15
    Allison 03-01-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
    3
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    "Great story for long car ride"
    Where does The Valley of Amazement rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Amy Tan tells long tale. Loved this book, typical Amy Tan!


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    The narration was 'choppy' as times, but it didn't take away from the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Levine 02-12-15
    M. Levine 02-12-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    38
    22
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    "Good, but not her best"

    Long stretches of exposition, fair performances, and draggy in spots, with looong speeches with no "live" action. I was glad when it ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wb 02-11-15
    wb 02-11-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "This book was terrible!"

    I am a big Amy Tan fan. And I was very disappointed by this book. The story telling and writing was awful! And the narration was equally bad. It was almost as if she got someone else to write the book for her and just got paid to use her name. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. And I wish I could've given it zero stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean 01-26-15
    Jean 01-26-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    11
    4
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    0
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    "Skip this book and read "The Good Earth""
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I can't fathom that anyone would enjoy this book. The story, the characters, the performance. All weak. I was hoping I would be transported into to Shanghai and be sympathetic or at least involved with the heroine or at least some of the characters. Description of turn of the century China was vague and bland. Violet and her mother come off as a couple of chumps. Read the "The Good Earth".


    Would you ever listen to anything by Amy Tan again?

    No. This is the first book I've read by Amy Tan. I shall not read another.


    How could the performance have been better?

    A different book.


    What character would you cut from The Valley of Amazement?

    All of them. This book shouldn't have been written.


    Any additional comments?

    Twenty four hours of my life I'll never get back. At least I finished the afghan I was making.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sy Ann Guth 01-25-15
    Sy Ann Guth 01-25-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    31
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    "Didn't catch my attention"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I've read Amy Tan's books before, but this one didn't light my fire. Didn't finish listening to it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriela Vega 01-22-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    2
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    "Utterly disliked this book!"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend this book to anyone. I felt that the storyline was very ugly, the reading sounded more like the recitation of a grocery list. In sum, it fell flat. The Valley of Amazement, not at all... It should have been called, Tales of an Old Whore.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Listened to it months ago.


    Was The Valley of Amazement worth the listening time?

    NO.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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