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The Valley of Amazement Audiobook

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

3.9 (2161 )
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3.8 (1943 )
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4.1 (1926 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bonnie 02-23-16
    Bonnie 02-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    23
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    "Long time"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marylyn Damascus, MD, United States 02-20-16
    Marylyn Damascus, MD, United States 02-20-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too much telling, not enough showing."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No.The story dragged.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Predictable.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

    No. The main narrator sounded bored with her own character. Her boredom was contagious.


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

    No. Instead, it needs massive truncating and revision.


    Any additional comments?

    Very disappointed in Amy Tan. Usually I like her work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christie 02-11-16
    christie 02-11-16
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    1
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    Story
    "Too much of a focus on brothel encounters"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    STEPHANIE Idaho Falls, ID, United States 02-10-16
    STEPHANIE Idaho Falls, ID, United States 02-10-16 Member Since 2010
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    "Worse than gullible, just plain stupid characters."
    What would have made The Valley of Amazement better?

    Hope for any of the characters might have made the book tolerable.


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

    yes


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Yes. The whining of Magic Gourd is nauseating.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The redeeming qualities of this book are erased by the insufferable stupidity of the main character.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your credit or your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alice edwards 02-08-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    6
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    "a nice, looong story set mainly in China"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Valley of Amazement to be better than the print version?

    did not read the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    the exotic setting and learning about the lives of courtesans.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    while executed somewhat less than perfectly, i like the attempts of the female narrators to switch to male-sounding voices for male dialog.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer SIERRA VISTA, AZ, United States 02-02-16
    Amazon Customer SIERRA VISTA, AZ, United States 02-02-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrible book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danielle Owens 12-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    6
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    "Couldn't stop listening."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 12-26-15
    Virginia South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 12-26-15 Member Since 2011
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    29
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    "A close look at Shanghai in the late 1800's"
    Where does The Valley of Amazement rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Amy Tan's books are always beautifully written and well researched. This book is one of her best.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


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

    Again Violet - because the narrator gives her a life and voice that also changes as she grows.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elayne 12-24-15
    elayne 12-24-15 Member Since 2015

    book moments

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    "amazing cultural picture."

    well researched. great voices. wonderfully woven storylines. terrific read. good historical perspective.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Hade 12-20-15 Member Since 2015
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    5
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    "The Valley of Amazement: Courtesans in Shanghai"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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