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.
50 something, retired professional, mother, grandmother, wife.
I try to reserve my 5 star ratings for truly wonderful literature. This book makes me feel I have known the people and seen the places and lost loved ones when it is over. I expect this from Amy Tan and this book delivered. Though I don't know the time or the place, her descriptions of emotions make that irrelevant. We all know about love, wanting love and loss. Amy Tan taps into that knowledge perfectly.
I love Amy Tan, or at least I did. it has been painful to get through much of this book. I have finally given up. It's violent, crass, and after 14 chapters, pointless. I've struggled to find a point, a theme. Not worth it.
Resident of PNW/Pluviophile/Great Whales, Evergreen Forests/Dogs/Reading and being read to.
It's a milk toast read, with a story about Courtesans in the turn of the Century in China. The values of its character's sad commentary on their reality.
Varied, but mostly too high for relaxed listening.
No. Why would one need more information about a life of futility.
The voice used to endow the lead Courtesan should have been used throughout.
Amy Tan continues to explore the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Set in early twentieth century San Francisco and Shanghai, The Valley of Amazement provides a rich cultural and historical context for posing some universal questions about parental love and how we perceive it. The narration is wonderful. I highly recommend this book.
I liked the story itself, but its predictable conclusion was unnecessarily drawn-out through monotonous over-telling.
I really like the story. It was interesting and unique and I could vividly see the book play out before me. It had funny and heart-wrenching sad moments and a very satisfying ending. I sent the book to a friend who I knew would also enjoy it.
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