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.
I loved it. I felt like I really knew all of the characters. The narration was fitting. A multi-generation story that comes full circle. I truly didn't want the story to end.
I'm a huge Tan fan, and this book just solidified that even more. This book offers a rare glimpse into a hidden world for the reader. I found it profoundly sad, but that only added to the depth and richness of this beautifully woven story.
Amy Tan has created an epic that spans the lives of fascinating characters who have lives intertwined. Forbidden love between America and Chinese as well as the generations following, give us a unique look into traditional Chinese courtesan houses. With vivid detail, readers see the larger purpose they played in Chinese power, and wealth of Shanghai.
Nicely told by several characters in non linear form, we get to then reexamine the past. Ripe for a sequel. Good story, well narrated.
after I read the other reviews I wondered if I'd get through it. Yes it was too long and the generations got confusing at the end, but it was a good story and seemed to give an authentic view of life at that time. I enjoyed it once I got past the tedious opening chapters.
This was a great read - interesting in that it gave a lot of history of China and cultural aspects of being a woman in China and the choices they had starting in the 1800's up to WW 2.
~Bead Goddess Mary~
This was a good book, but so...so...long! I would have given up, but once I start I try to finish each book I read/listen to. If you are up for a long saga, this book will not let you down! Three generations, betrayal, love, heartbreak alomost everycorner, victories, and much longing...this is the book for you.
This story turned out to be better than I expected after I got bogged down. There is a tedious part where there is too much detailed explaining about the skills one needs to be a courtesan. Two people I know quit the book there. But I persevered and I'm glad I did. At times I was impatient with Violet when she was so wimpy with Perpetual and seemed to do nothing about her horrible situation. Eventually everyone seems to come to terms with the various twists and turns of their lives.
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