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The Valley of Amazement Audiobook

The Valley of Amazement

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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

3.9 (2289 )
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4.1 (2040 )
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  •  
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 07-06-14
    Beth Anne Philadelphia, PA, United States 07-06-14 Member Since 2012

    i like to read. i like to listen.

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    "disappointing and not worth the hype"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.E. New York, NY, United States 03-26-14
    M.E. New York, NY, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2014
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    "I can't believe Amy Tan wrote this!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This could have been a typical 5-star Amy Tan book if the story was not about self-centered, whining, stupid people.


    Has The Valley of Amazement turned you off from other books in this genre?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Hated every character in this book.


    What character would you cut from The Valley of Amazement?

    This whole book should never had made it past the editor.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your time with this one. Go back to Amy Tan's first books, so much better.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue Cape Town, South Africa 12-11-13
    Sue Cape Town, South Africa 12-11-13
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    "One bad decision takes 2 generations to fix."
    Would you listen to The Valley of Amazement again? Why?

    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...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Magic Gourd - such a resourceful, loyal, opinionated, caring and funny mother figure. She just rolls up her sleeves and gets it done.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janine 11-24-13
    Janine 11-24-13
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    "Good story, pity about the performance"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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...


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story line.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    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.


    Do you think The Valley of Amazement needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Please change the producers/narrator if you do...


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Okemos, MI, United States 11-28-13
    Teresa Okemos, MI, United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Amy Tan Wrote This?"

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine San Diego, CA 09-19-15
    Catherine San Diego, CA 09-19-15 Member Since 2011

    Catroy

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    "chosing not to finish"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Ferrall 04-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Not the authors best work."

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rachel kohls-lunt 01-28-15
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    "Simply Amazing"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer KENT, WA, United States 12-10-13
    Amazon Customer KENT, WA, United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Loved this book!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Valley of Amazement the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz 12-09-13
    Liz 12-09-13

    I love getting lost in a good story.

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    "Amy Tan does it again"

    As with all Amy's books, it's as hard to keep reading as to put down. The life of Asian women in Amy's stories are so hard. The book is full of interesting twists and turns.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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