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.
Serious about gadgets
The same quality of writing as the author's previous books.
Create characters I could care about, and minimize the soft porn of the "how to be a courtesan manual" that went ON and ON.
I quit during the "how to be a courtesan" lessons. I really can't say I enjoyed any part of the book up to that point, but the combination of the soft porn read in the droning voice of the narrator put me over the top.
If you liked previous Amy Tan books, this is not for you.
My favorite Amy Tan book is Saving Fish From Drowning. I was completely disappointed with this book. The main character, Violet is intolerable throughout the novel. I was hoping for some redeeming quality at the end but it never came. There are almost no likable characters throughout the entire novel. I had no emotional attachment to any of the characters and therefore did not enjoy any of the details of the period or the places.
Way too wordy-- lots of needless boring information that took away from a good story.
No. Blah blah blah....
Loved the narrators !
This will be remembered as my LEAST favorite of AmyTan's books. I give the rest of her stories an A++
This is one of those books that you get caught up in, and can't put down until you've finished the book. You just want the story to keep going and going.
I am quite surprised at the number of negative reviews written by other readers. I am a reader who is willing to suspend belief, to enjoy a good story even if not everything in the plot is realistic. So, I very much enjoyed listening to The Valley of Amazement.
One of the most memorable moments is when little Flora is separated from her mother Violet just as Violet had been separated years before from her mother.
I don't think the narrators' voices were memorable. At times they were annoying.
Two characters were memorable. The main character Violet, whom we watch grow from a child in her mother's courtesan house to a middle-aged woman, is the one a reader remembers most. Violet's sometimes improbable adventures make up the bulk of the novel. Flora also became a memorable character at the end as she told of her search for identity. I did not find Magic Gourd memorable; she was too much a convenience for Amy Tan fill in what she wanted to say.
Amy Tan paints a picture of life in Shanghai at the beginning of the 20th century. We see what possibilities there were for women - both Chinese and "foreign." To a lesser extent we see the position of businessmen in Shanghai society of the time. As in all of Amy Tan's writing, the descriptions are vivid. No one can write of the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship as well as Amy Tan, and she does not disappoint in this novel.
The plot. Too much narrative about how to be a proper courtesan.
The narrators performances were good.
Ho-hum…too much like Memoirs of a Geisha - the Chinese version of the story. There must be more to write about re historical Chinese women than their lives as courtesans. I really liked Amy Tan's first book but there is very little that is original in this book.
The audio narration added to the story, especially that of Magic Gourd.
Favorite scene is when Magic Gourd sticks up and tries to protect Violet as she is beaten by Perpetual.
not for the weak
If you like to have books read to you as if one is reading down a bullet list,this may be for you. What a disappointment. Of course, as many ,I have read Joy Luck Club and her subsequent novels but I was so utterly disappointed,I actually could not listen after Chapter 4. Maybe it needs a better chance, but I felt I was listening to a fourth grader's outline of a story.
There is no detailed description of Shang hai which is a given but no description of any characters inner thoughts, no inner thoughts on anything. i could not feel I was in the writers mind or imagination which toime is the whole magic of books. I was so bored and actually frustrated,I stopped and went back to a story I had already heard. It was that horrible.
I do not remember huge love of Tan's books after JLC but they were good.
Sorry to say, this is the first of over 200 books that I could not get through. Usually I feel, I paid for this ,I can listen. With this book,I could not even do that.
Total disappointment and a true waste of a credit! Beware.
Loved this book!
I enjoyed the voices and the accents seemed just right. Excellent descriptions and detail.
Great portrayal of China during this period in history. Gave real feeling of life in a "House of Pleasure", with interactions of the women, their feelings about the male visitors, but also the venality of the characters.
Tell us about yourself!
Normally, I enjoy Amy Tan books so I was pleased to see a new one out. At times the minutia is more than I could bear so I had to fast forward to get to somethinf interesting. I now know WAY more than I want to know about the facial expressions, body movements and wooing habits of a courtesan.
Perhaps when Viloet, Magic Gourd and their "sister" escape from their crazy husband. They showed real resourcefulness and courage.
I would say this book would have been better, half as long.
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