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.
As usual, Amy Tan never fails to transport this reader into the stories and the lives of the characters. A book that leaves an ache when it is finished. Amy Tan weaves a rich and colorful tapestry the reader is pulled into and then leaves one feeling that they too, are part of that fabric. Bravo, Amy Tan! And thank you.
I'm not sure I rooted for anyone, the whole thing felt like torture for the characters and myself. 24 hours omg. I was glad there was a tiny bit of resolution at the end but really, was too little too late.
I enjoy all of Amy Tan's books, especially this one, where a complex story is slowly revealed. Tan gives us a peek into another culture at another time.
The story was just so rich and wonderful to listen to however when the narrators were speaking as the men I always pictured them as 80 year olds and not the young men they started out as. Hard to keep in line with the ages of the characters.
I loved every moment of this book. Happy moments and sad moments.
no, I enjoyed listening to it over time and will probably listen to it again.
For me, it was a good book. It's intense, it's ugly and it's very raw. However, if you can handle it enough to see beneath the surface, it's quite profound. It's about fate, and how the very awful things that happen to us pave the way for things that are better. As for the not so pretty chronicles of courtesan life, put your ego and modern morals aside and ask yourself how much we've truly evolved - women are still playing the same games to get men and at risk of suffering the same exploitation or abuse. I think this is why so many readers had such a strong negative reaction to the book. It's worth a read and worth the time.
I loved this and couldn't stop listening! The beginning is a bit slow but that's to be expected from a story that starts with the protagonist's childhood. Picks up fast and then you'll be hooked! Has a lot in common with Memoirs of a Geisha, another book I loved. But more of a saga and less focus on the artistry and fancy living of that lifestyle. Great narration, she handles different characters and accents very well.
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