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.
This book took a long time for me slog through & it will be a long time before I consider reading another Amy Tan book. The basis of the plot is rich but the book would have been more enjoyable as an abridged version since it quickly became tedious & repetitive. I tired of dealing with characters who wallowed in their victim roles. The one bright point for me is having finally have finished the book.
No.The story dragged.
No. The main narrator sounded bored with her own character. Her boredom was contagious.
No. Instead, it needs massive truncating and revision.
Very disappointed in Amy Tan. Usually I like her work.
I love to read historical fiction about women, especially in China where life was so different. The plot lacked suspense and the characters were shallow. I did not care for the constant discussion about the girls did during meaningless encounters with their male clients.
Hope for any of the characters might have made the book tolerable.
Yes. The whining of Magic Gourd is nauseating.
The redeeming qualities of this book are erased by the insufferable stupidity of the main character.
Don't waste your credit or your time.
did not read the print version.
the exotic setting and learning about the lives of courtesans.
while executed somewhat less than perfectly, i like the attempts of the female narrators to switch to male-sounding voices for male dialog.
not only was i entertained, i wasn't bored in the least. In fact, I listened to most of the book two times, something I rarely do. I could listen again if i didn't have other interesting books awaiting me.
I never thought Amy Tan could sink so low. This book is just tripe. It lacks any substance and is painfully dull. I listened at 2x speed just to get through it fast.
The performance was amazing. It was a fantastic book, but the audio gave it even more life. I usually switch between kindle and audio throughout books, but except for a few parts, I listened to audio the entire time. I did like the narration for the "etiquette for the boudoir" chapter, so I listened, tho in all honesty although it was a very interesting and amusing chapter, I would have read it faster on my own and wished I could have. The mothers narration I was less fond of, it sounded more stuffy at the beginning where She was supposedly a rebellious daughter. I might have listened to the more heart wrenching parts but I was reading pretty fast and didn't want to go back to audio until it was Violet's POV.
It was a bit jarring that Magic Guard's narrator sounded so much more serious than how she sounded in the dialogue on Violet's POV however.
The book was great however, and I do recommend getting the kindle and audio since it's quite a long book and allowed me to breeze through sections where I wasn't as enraptured by the narrator. However, most of the dialogue was so much better with the audio, the various characters are easily given mixes of American, Chinese, and British accents that bring even more life to the book.
Amy Tan's books are always beautifully written and well researched. This book is one of her best.
Violet - the narrator - because you get to see her change and grow, deal with the bad cards life has dealt her and how she wrestles with her dual race heritage.
Again Violet - because the narrator gives her a life and voice that also changes as she grows.
Getting to see a side of Shanghai society that is often not written or even talked about is very interesting. This is a cultural history.
Amy Tan's novels always hook me from the start and her characters stay with me long after I finish. The Valley of Amazement was no exception. I rated it four stars instead of five for only one reason: it rambles on and on in the last third of the book and I felt there were a few chapters that were unnecessary. But the story overall is captivating and the characters memorable. It was interesting to catch a glimpse of Shanghai at the turn of the last century.
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