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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read 4 out of 5 of Amy Tan's other Novels - not read The Bonesetter's daughter - will read so soon. I loved all of them.

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 ...
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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
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on 6 November 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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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 13 November 2013
"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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VINE VOICEon 25 August 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first book I have read by Amy Tan and so I didn't have any expectations when it came to the story. However my overall impressions are that that there is a good story in here but at just shy of 600 pages it would be much better if it was edited more to cut out a lot of repetitive detail, particularly in the beginning. It did take me quite a long time to read and at times it did feel like a chore to carry on reading but towards the ending as the story as Violet's story connects with her mothers, it became more cohesive and interesting.
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on 21 July 2014
I really liked the earlier books. This one has a cheap touch to it. Amy Tan lists all the research she has done for the book, I wonder what for. 80 % of the book are endless and repetitive descriptions of interiors, clothes, jewellery, awful sex scenes on and on... The protagonists remain flat and unsympathetic. All that dishonesty and scheming may have been necessary for a courtesan at the time, but do I want to read about it again and again on nearly 600 pages? China and especially Shanghai and the International Settlement remain dull and uninteresting in this book. What a pity.
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on 12 September 2014
There are some reviews that tell you about the book, this is not one of them. My review is here in hope that someone who browses for a good book like me and stumbles on this gem. Buy it now! Read it now! The book is excellent, the author transported me into this fascinating plot, I fell in love with the characters, I cried with them. I was even looking up the history of china I was so fascinated. A lot for your money to the book is long, which is a plus because you won't want it to end. I am going to buy another of the authors books right now! Though I should give it a week and try catch up on some sleep. If your anything like me be warned this book will turn that 'just 30 mins reading before bed' into 2 hours later. Loved!!!
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on 29 January 2014
I allways enjoy a work of fiction which can impart information about something that I know little.

There are two love stories at the heart of this book,but also a lot of social history,and a little window onto a world that was so different from the West.

In parts, it seemed slow, and sometimes the characters' actions were hard to understand.But in no way did this spoil the book for me.It was refreshing to read about characters that were so damaged, but were also warm and funny.The gentle humour lifted the intolerable situations to a bearable level,without reducing the apalling situations they found themselves in.

The book ended in 1939,perhaps leaving the door open for a sequel.
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on 15 May 2015
I didn't find this as good a read as her other books - but it isn't an easy subject matter. It took me until quite a long way into the book to 'like' the central character. There are some really harrowing passages, and some interesting characters. Not as life-affirming as '100 Secret Senses' or 'Saving Fish from Drowning', but still a good book.
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