Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
You may blush whilst reading this! Evocative of time and place though
on 14 August 2014
Amy Tan's Vally of Amazement maps the lives of three generations of women connected by blood and history-and the mystery of an evocative painting.
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