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.
Amy Tan is a talented writer, however this book is one of the worst I've ever read. The plot is predictable and boring. The characters were never really likable and I couldn't connect with any of them. The character Magic Gourd's lessons on how to be the perfect courtesan seem to be a list taken straight from a text book. I was constantly wanting to just stop listening and kept falling asleep.
In every possible way. The voices were the worst possible choices. I was bored to death.
The lessons from Magic Gourd could have been the most fun part of the book. Sadly it was just a list and when read it sounded like someone reading a list of do's and don'ts.
I would not recommend this book. Don't waste your money.
I have not finished this reading yet. I am in the midst of the Narrator for Magic Cloud. I want to throw the IPOD through the window -the voice is so slow and grating!! I can only tune it out. I want to skip it, but I might miss something-and it is really a pain to skip things. It's too bad. I didn't like the first narrator's version of Magic Cloud either. I don't think there is any reason for more than one narrator-but one that reads to improve the story is absolutely needed. I think reading this in book form would be tolerable. I could skip the parts that are unneeded and don't add to the story.
i like to read. i like to listen.
honestly i expected more from amy tan. i dont know why. i've only read one other book by her (joy luck club), and i really did enjoy that one...but its been 6 years since i read it -- and 25 years since she wrote it. thats a lot of time, and a lot of other novels, that i've missed. but i guess because she's so prolific, and so popular, i figured that this novel was bound to be another amazing story. i kind of didn't feel that way.
to be frank, i found the story to drag on and on...with all of the main characters making all of the same mistakes over and over and over again. without learning or growing.
Violet is one of the dumbest female protagonists i have ever encountered. i kept grimacing over every choice she made, every person she trusted, every word she uttered. she kept saying 'i'm smart' 'i am clever' 'i could figure a way' -- and i wanted to scream back at here - no you aren't!!! you really really aren't! her story took way to long to unfold. leaving precious little time to get through the other two women's stories, which then felt rushed and cut short. Lulu was semi-interesting....but as i said, i felt i didn't get to really invest myself in her story because it was told so quickly and so near to the end of the novel -- i knew that it was being told only to move the story along to the ending.
obviously i don't know anything about being a courtesan in turn of the century China...how would i. and this story did give you an interesting look into that lifestyle, whether chosen or forced upon a woman. it was extremely graphic in it's sexual encounters -- which didn't bother me -- but i also didn't find those scenes necessarily helped to move the plot along. they were a bit gratuitous.
what frustrated me the most in this novel was the two child kidnappings that took place. the complacency of both mothers was astounding...like they lost an old silk scarf -- not a child from their own womb! there was no lamenting except a few words here and there 'i long for my daughter' 'i think about her all the time.' but that didn't seem like what was going on. it seemed, to me, that each woman was moving along with her life without looking back....without giving any effort to rescue her poor child. perhaps it was the times, or the country they were in, but i found the fact that no recourse was even attempted frustrating and bothersome. then the ending comes, everyone hugs and "we can all live happily moving forward and love each other again" -- it was just ridiculous.
to end, this book was frustrating, and drawn out, and overall disappointing to me.
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.
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...
If the author had been anyone other than Amy Tan I wouldn't haven't listened as long as I did. The characters are undeveloped and uninteresting, and the plot--such as it is--simply struggles along. I kept wondering if it was the writing or the narration that was the problem, and then came to the sad conclusion that it was both. Amy Tan--did you listen to the narrators? And if so, didn't you have the ability to ask for replacements?
This is a second-rate bodice buster that goes on far too long. My recommendation: Skip it. Try ANY of Tan's other books. She's a talented and moving writer--something just went terribly wrong with this book.
Extremely disappointing. Loved Amy's prior books, this was not worth time to finish. I have a 3 chapter rule... if a story doesn't interest me by the 3rd chapter, I give up. Rarely used, but stopping mid-way into 3rd chapter on this one.
I found the characters hard to connect to. they made decisions I couldn't understand and were just overall unlikable. Also the sex scenes were cringe worthy.
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.
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