The Valley of Amazement Paperback – 15 Jul 2014
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Praise for ‘The Valley of Amazement’:
‘Tan explores, sensitively, the edges of some thorny topics … Chinese-Americans are among the most dynamic, and socially cohesive, ethnic groups in the US … Tan is one of their leading voices … Tan’s fiction is, as always, hugely readable.’ Sunday Times
‘Tan, who was born in the US to Chinese immigrant parents, is a gifted storyteller … Just as Violet is a complex character beyond her Asian and white ethnic roots, Tan’s large-hearted, florid and ragged tale goes beyond casual stereotypes. This is one writer’s particular idiom and vision of the world – and within that she offers us a rich cast of characters who both repel and compel.’ Financial Times
‘Admirers of Amy Tan will love her latest blockbuster … a warm, expansive story, examining the subtle bonds between mothers and daughters.’ Mail on Sunday
‘The characters are wonderful. You can’t help but fall in love with people who are named Cracked Egg or Magic Cloud …For fans of historical fiction, ‘The Valley of Amazement’ offers a fascinating insight into a hidden world belonging to a bygone era, as it flits from harrowing to humorous.’ Stylist Magazine
‘Expansive, poised and, at times, heartbreaking, this delicately-spun tale, which has the grace of a courtly dance and the subtleties of a thousand chess moves, will be loved by fans of Tan’s bestseller “The Joy Luck Club”.’ Sunday Express
‘She has surpassed herself … She has by no means exhausted her supply of fictional women who pass to each other, through the generations, a determination not to be broken, no matter what.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Packs enough drama to keep readers going till the end.’ Guardian
‘Historic sweep mixes with erotic candour in a heady mix, brought to an excellent bake by the skillful Amy Tan.’ Daily Mail
‘A lush historical epic.’ Vogue
‘A vivid portrait of life in 19th Century China, with some rather saucy Fifty Shades-style sex scenes thrown in.’ Good Housekeeping
About the Author
Born in the US to immigrant Chinese parents, Amy Tan is an internationally celebrated writer. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, and two children's books. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is set mostly in Shanghai & also San Francisco from 1897 to 1939. It is about the lives of 2 women: Lucia & Violet, mother & daughter. Most of the book is from Violet's point of view - we get to hear Lucia's version very near the end.
The book starts in 1905 in Shanghai and is very good at the beginning - it is just under 600 page - and starts to get bogged down in too much detail - I found myself skipping quickly through details of courtesan rituals & poetry - all interesting in themselves but did nothing for the novel.
However even with the slightly dull bits it was a very good story - I think with better editing & shortening of the book by about 100 pages (without shortening the actual story - it would have been a 5 Star - excellent book.
I did shed a tear at the end for what could have been ...
The book is very open ended - at the finish it is just before the start of World War 2 - so there are many possibilities for what could happen next ...
She takes us on a journey through the dazzling world of courtesans in turn-of -the -century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco.
This is a booktrailer’s dream in one way - the setting and the insight into the world of the Chinese courtesan. It evokes the atmosphere of bustling Shanghai at the turn of the century and grips from the start. The novel is quite long yes, but the descriptions of the tea parties and the courtesan’s life really are quite fascinating as you imagine what is going on outside of the courtesan’s house amidst the events of Shanghai & San Francisco from 1890s to the 1930s.
This was a world not explored in the booktrail before and it was quite an eye opener (in more ways than one! ahem) despite being a bit too long but the story flows well and events build up so there are only few moments where you are resting from the action so to speak.
The nineteenth century settings are the real star of the show with San Francisco and Shanghai really coming into their own both before and leading up WW1 and the second. It is very graphic in places however - both descriptions of sex and the goings on within the courtesan world are, well, rather overdone? There are a lot of words for certain body parts used....
Amy Tan is a gifted writer however and I was very pleased to have read such a book about female relationships and this courtesan world. Can’t say the characters are particularly likable and would they really have made the decisions they did with such ease? Don’t know - but the novel stands with the beautiful writing - I felt as if I’m still blushing now though months after reading it ! hehe
"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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story that sucked me right into old Shanghai. I loved learning about how people lived in the old western settlements. Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. L