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The Valley of Amazement | [Amy Tan]

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

3.8 (1590 )
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4.1 (1402 )
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  •  
    Travis 01-21-15
    Travis 01-21-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Have a costco pack of Kleenex at hand."

    A beautiful story ready to send readers into misty eyed looks of disbelief. A well written multigenerational tale of loneliness, love, and love lost. Oh, and of lass of all kinds too. Lots of loss and cruelty. This tale chronicled the lives of women (and their corresponding men) who try to fill the void in the best way they know how, often with disastrous consequences. Not recommended for the clinically depressed or suffering from suicidal thoughts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Puppy Mommy Central Florida 01-19-15
    Puppy Mommy Central Florida 01-19-15 Member Since 2013
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "Compelling Throughout"

    Amy Tan's readers will enjoy this, but so will those who enjoy family stories with women as central characters and an interesting setting and time period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ebeth Ohio 01-07-15
    Ebeth Ohio 01-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Breaking the cycles"

    Tan never disappoints me and this book was no different. Every moment was rich with story, history, country and custom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vashtie calgary, laberta, canada 01-05-15
    vashtie calgary, laberta, canada 01-05-15 Member Since 2010
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    "A good read..."

    this book was good and well read. I enjoyed the performance of all the narrators.I have to admit I haveenjoyed other books by Amy Tan more,but she is just such a good writerthat this book was a pleasure to listen to. I often get the feeling, when a reading one of her books, that she writes her books to be read out loud.
    I also really enjoyed the characters and how they grew and developed throughout the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Smee48 12-30-14
    Smee48 12-30-14

    I am a slow reader, but I spend enough time in the car that I get to fall in love with new books on each trip thanks to Audible.

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    "The never-ending story?"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I would listen to this book over the summer while working in the garden mostly, so I don't feel like I wasted my time but the story just went on and on and on... I will admit, I am still not finished. I lost steam and interest.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Amy Tan again?

    I won't rule it out.


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

    I can't say that I ended up with a favorite.


    Could you see The Valley of Amazement being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Maybe a mini-series... I don't have a real strong opinion about it either way.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not that the book was bad, it just lasted for so long and was difficult to continue listening to with very little action in the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    valerie newport news, VA, United States 11-13-14
    valerie newport news, VA, United States 11-13-14 Member Since 2011

    I listen to books all the time, When I am driving, cleaning, cooking or doing anything quiet. I am AUDOBSESSED!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great ! Captivating 6 stars!"

    I cannot praise this book enough! It was a page turner for me. Following the life of the daughter of an american madam. It was entertaining, gut wrenching, sad, and joyful, and an eye opening experience. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anne Rosenthal 08-22-14 Member Since 2010
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    6
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    "Wrong turn somewhere"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A novel about the status of women and courtesan life in prewar China has the potential for being an unusual and interesting subject that a writer of Amy Tan's abilities could turn into a great story.


    What was most disappointing about Amy Tan’s story?

    The main characters who are supposed to be resourceful and intelligent are relentlessly naive, whining, neurotic, passive and utterly incapable of thoughtful and useful reflection on their situations and how to solve their problems. It became extremely frustrating to listen to how these women who were robbed of their children and professed to love them desperately could become so distracted and blinded by their own vanity. It didn't somehow ring true. It seems the author got all tangled up in the desire to add more picaresque to the story.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Sometimes the voices were a bit cutesy.


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

    A look into what Chinese courtesan houses were all about and the cultural ideas about the superiority of men.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 08-15-14
    Jennifer 08-15-14
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    "I tried..."

    After giving this audio book several chances, I have finally decided to discard it. The story has some high points, but mostly drones on and on without much action. I kept thinking that I needed to keep listening because the good part is coming, but then I just couldn't stand the voices of the narrator - especially the child's voice. I am sad about this, because I have really enjoyed Amy Tan's previous works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 08-12-14
    Donna 08-12-14

    Donna

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    "Boring and pointless"

    I found listening to this book an incredibly good way to fall asleep. One of the narrators in particular spoke in a low drone that was like white noise. I found no purpose to the story - it was boring basically, with whole hours devoted to how to behave like a courtesan. I didn't really like any of the main characters and this is probably why I didn't enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SierraBlue2 Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-29-14
    SierraBlue2 Walnut Creek, CA, United States 07-29-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Long and tedious"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Sadly, I would not. I stopped listening five chapters before it ended. I gave it a good try but by then, I had stopped caring about Violet and her mother. I agree that people usually make the same mistakes over and over, but Violet's self-created problems were too predictable and ultimately not very believable.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I found the lovemaking (if you can call it that) too graphic.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    Often authors who narrate their own books disappoint but Ms. Tan's voice and those of the other narrators are expressive and credible.


    Was The Valley of Amazement worth the listening time?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed Ms. Tan's other books so I was disappointed that this one fell short.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Rebecca
    London, United Kingdom
    12/9/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Draws you from word to word, you can't stop."
    Would you listen to The Valley of Amazement again? Why?

    I always find that the second read or listen of any good book gleans much more from it, the first time is all about the plot, the second time I get sub themes, poetry in the prose and other gems.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Violet, poor damaged violet who started her life with such a burden and never stopped fitting back.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    When Golden lotus laid out the rules of a courtesan.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When they took little flora away.


    Any additional comments?

    This book,like all Amy Tan's novels does not disappoint. It is not great literature, its a compelling read. I always like a good ponder on the sins of the Fathers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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