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.
When I first started this book I had to force myself to listen to each chapter. I even listened to the first Harry Potter while procrastinating from this book. It slowly got better and I became more invested. I'm glad I stuck with it.
Started good, ended poorly. I usually adore Amy Tan's multigenerational matriarchal stories. But it feels like she is running out of inspiration, words, stories or all of the above. This book starts out with a bang.... Shanghai flower girls vying for attention of wealthy suitors, mother-daughter conflict, men who betray, bound feet, the whole gamut. But the story bounces around in time and space, which is very confusing on audio, and finally ends with another whole story that should have been the focus of the book. I'm glad I'm done with it.
I couldn't stick with it -
I have liked amy tan a great deal in the past, and I really tried with this one, but I couldn't do it.
An adult doing a child's voice is challenging, and with this narrator, the voice is just annoying. I could only make it through 2 hours.
Absolutely loved it. Such a sweeping story, covering years and generations, not to mention all that I learned about the world of courtesans.
I read Amy Tan's first three books and thoroughly enjoyed them, but this book is a huge disappointment. The writing is amateurish, the descriptions mostly overwrought. repetitive and seemingly endless. The first person narrative whitewashes the main characters' lying, cheating and fraudulent manipulations. The heart rending story of two mothers and two daughters and the courtesan culture of early 20th century Shanghai had much potential but Amy Tan just didn't do it justice.
Love Amy Tan's exploration of the mother-daughter dynamic, and Chinese tradition and culture contrasted with the American spirit of independence. Always a delight.
This has been one of my favorite books I have read in a long time. I plan on buying a copy for both of my girls. I feel all women would benefit by reading the life lessons of this book.
Well worth the money! I was captured by this story told by Amy Tan, and am anxious to try out more of her books. I loved the fact that they used three narrators. I highly recommend The Valley of Amazement!
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.
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