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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book giving an insight into a secret world
Violet is the half-American, half- Chinese daughter of Lucia Minturn, the owner of a prestigious Courtesan house in Shanghai (The Hidden Jade Path) at the turn of the 20th Century when it is a difficult time to be a foreigner in Shanghai let alone a person on mixed race. When the revolution comes a terrible deception separates the young Violet and her mother and forces...
Published 8 months ago by E Thomas

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Having read & enjoyed Amy Tan's early work I was looking forward to her new book. For me it was too long. She's obviously done a lot of research but trying to incorporate that bogged the book down & disrupted the flow.The first part drew me in, then I got increasingly irritated with the two main protagonists especially the mother Lulu. Hence I skimmed probably 40% of the...
Published 5 months ago by J. Harris


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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book giving an insight into a secret world, 6 Nov 2013
Violet is the half-American, half- Chinese daughter of Lucia Minturn, the owner of a prestigious Courtesan house in Shanghai (The Hidden Jade Path) at the turn of the 20th Century when it is a difficult time to be a foreigner in Shanghai let alone a person on mixed race. When the revolution comes a terrible deception separates the young Violet and her mother and forces Violet into the world of the Courtesan.
"The Valley of Amazement" tells the story of Violet, Magic Gourd (a Courtesan at the Hidden Jade Path) and Lucia Minturn over many years during which they suffer passion, tragic love affairs, betrayal and reconciliation. Amy Tann also explores the characters past, helping the reader to see how they ended up in their current situation.
This novel was a superb read and gave an exceptional insight into the world of the Chinese Courtesan. The book also expertly re-creates the atmosphere of turn of the century Shanghai with all of its tensions, hustle and bustle.
A perfect book for those who like an insight into a previously unknown world and who want an intelligent book which explores the importance of female friendship, loyalty, love and betrayal. The book, although a very long book, kept me gripped from the start. Having never read any of Amy Tann's work before, I will definitely be reading her other novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book - loved it, 12 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Valley of Amazement (Hardcover)
The book arrived promptly and well packaged. I couldn't put it down. It was a great story and really well written. I think it's the best one Amy Tan has written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic Amy Tan, 1 Feb 2014
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I waited a long time for this book to be published. It was worth the wait. The history was an interesting back drop to a story of love and survival.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 Jan 2014
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J. Harris (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Having read & enjoyed Amy Tan's early work I was looking forward to her new book. For me it was too long. She's obviously done a lot of research but trying to incorporate that bogged the book down & disrupted the flow.The first part drew me in, then I got increasingly irritated with the two main protagonists especially the mother Lulu. Hence I skimmed probably 40% of the book.Really couldn't recommend 2.5 score
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreary and too long., 27 Dec 2013
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J. Holmes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Valley of Amazement (Hardcover)
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I was really looking forward to this book arriving. I have read The. Kitchen Gods Wife, The Joy Luck Club and The Hundred Secret Senses and loved them all. However this book is becoming a chore to read...I am on page 256 of 589 and on the point of abandoning it. The characters aren't warm or real enough and the life of a courtesan was really pretty dreary...just tea parties, sex and receiving gifts over and over until you grew too old to be attractive. The setting is very narrow with not much mention of happenings outside the courtesan house at what was a very exciting period in Chinese history. The story could have been condensed a whole lot more and moved along a bit faster. Not my cup of tea.... Disappointing.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Amy Tan fans and readers interested in the life of Chinese courtesans..., 13 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Valley of Amazement (Hardcover)
"The Valley of Amazement" by Amy Tan, author of known novel "The Joy Luck Club", who returned with her distinct literary style full of love, desire and deception, with few drops of humor, though this one is of bit lower quality than her readers are used to.

The story starts when reader is introduced to Violet, girl of mixed origin and daughter of Lulu Mintern, a white woman who owns a courtesan house in Shanghai in the early 20th century.
Violet wants to find out identity of her father, being unhappy that her mother doesn't pay too much attention to her daughter. Also, although she is very young, Violet will be taught the art of seduction and when she will be fourteen due to the deceit of her mother ex-lover she will be sold as courtesan.
The only good thing is that the house in which she will work is house of Magic Gourd, who previously worked as courtesan for her mother. Due to her protection and training, Violet who will change her name to ViVi will become happier with her life and good courtesan.

A reader will continue to follow her exciting and sad life story, giving birth to daughter named Flora, her unhappy marriage and days filled with sorrow because of wrong decisions...
In the end, both reader and ViVi will get answers about her mother and daughter, making this novel an exciting story of three female generations connected by blood and family secrets...

Amy Tan's novel, although it has its qualities probably won't be able to fully justify the expectations of demanding readers.
Its title refers to a painting that will appear through the story, which symbolizes eternity, beauty and illusion.
The author tried to make this novel like a painting, but it seems like it's all too clear inside, there are no hidden details, the subtle contours, and that is exactly what every fan of art and literature desires, what distinguishes the art from manufacturing.

Everything goes in some sort of order, there is no great mystery, even action that I outlined in the review isn't a spoiler because it is quite expected, and its story though interesting fails to surprise reader.
Also the novel has some incorrect information that China in the beginning of 20th century had equivalents to Japan's geishas, although compared to them they were real prostitutes.
And what is somewhat unclear is the author's insistence on presenting explicit sex scenes with minors as she in this way tried to make her novel becoming more attractive to the male audience, which usually don't read such novels.

Overall, this book can be mostly recommended to Amy Tan fans and readers which are interested in the life of Chinese courtesans, because their world is richly described in detail.
For all others, although the story is at times interesting, on the whole, unfortunately won't arouse great interest, even at times can make reader who expects mystery and suspense a bit tired.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story., 14 Jan 2014
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Beautifully written and very dramatic. Brings the `old China` into focus and takes us down pathways which I never knew existed. Amy Tan is a consummate writer, I was sorry when I reached the end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last!!, 19 Jan 2014
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8 years too long. Another blockbuster from Amy Tan. It was an absolute joy to read this latest addition to the author's literary repertoire.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 Dec 2013
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Kathryn Lindsay Morris (Billericay, Essex, GB) - See all my reviews
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Started well but did not hold my attention. Violet was not that likeable and so not that concerned with her fate
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 28 Jun 2014
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Like a Catherine Cookson, set in China...
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The Valley of Amazement
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Hardcover - 5 Nov 2013)
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