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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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The Valley of Amazement Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 5, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 2,024 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2013: For a hefty half of her gorgeous new novel, The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan instructs us in the finer points of life as a courtesan in early 20th century China: expect and revel in sensual descriptions of the clothes, the customs, even the not-so-niceties of catering to rich men in a very regimented society. Lulu Minturn is a white Californian who’d run away with a Chinese painter, established the best courtesan house in Shanghai and given birth to a beautiful “Eurasian” (in the parlance of the time) daughter, Violet. Soon, either because she was tricked or deceitful, Lulu abandons Violet and flees back to America; history soon is in danger of repeating itself when Violet gives birth to her own daughter. (Eventually, the scene shifts to California, where the family searches for redemption and reconciliation.) Nobody does mother-daughter angst and cross cultural conflict better than Tan, who has been literally writing the book(s) on these topics for years. What makes this novel special is its meticulous language--readers may be struck by the juxtaposition of poetry and Anglosaxon equivalents in descriptions of courtesans’ sex lives--and its elucidation of the cultural upheavals at the time. This is as much a historical novel as it is a family story, at once intimate and sweeping, personal and political. You’ll have learned something by the end--and you’ll probably also be weeping. --Sara Nelson

From Publishers Weekly

In her first novel since 2009's Saving Fish from Drowning, Tan again explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, control and submission, tradition and new beginnings. Jumping from bustling Shanghai to an isolated village in rural China to San Francisco at the turn of the 19th century, the epic story follows three generations of women pulled apart by outside forces. The main focus is Violet, once a virgin courtesan in one of the most reputable houses in Shanghai, who faces a series of crippling setbacks: the death of her first husband from Spanish influenza, a second marriage to an abusive scam artist, and the abduction of her infant daughter, Flora. In a series of flashbacks toward the book's end, Violet's American mother, Lulu, is revealed to have suffered a similar and equally disturbing fate two decades earlier. The choice to cram the truth behind Lulu's sexually promiscuous adolescence in San Francisco, her life as a madam in Shanghai, and Violet's reunion with a grown Flora into the last 150 pages makes the story unnecessarily confusing. Nonetheless, Tan's mastery of the lavish world of courtesans and Chinese customs continues to transport. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Nov.)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062107313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062107312
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,024 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, which has now been adapted as a PBS production. Tan was also a co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into thirty-five languages. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As an enthusiastic fan of Amy Tan ever since her first novel,The Joy Luck Club, and then even more so after my emotional connection with her memoir, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life - which brought me to my knees because I too, like Amy, am afflicted with Chronic Lyme Disease - it hurts me to write anything less than a 5-star review for her latest work, THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT.

But if I am to be honest here, even at the risk of being unpopular among my fellow reviewers who are also fans of Amy Tan, I am afraid I must take the middle road in my evaluation of it. Let me cut to the chase - I found this novel less than amazing. At best I would say it is generic Amy Tan.

Even though parts of the book are really quite good, perhaps even worthy of a 5-star assessment, for several reasons the book as a whole could not sustain five stars. Allow me to explain.

VALLEY is the oft-told Amy Tan tale of strained mother-daughter relationships for which she is highly acclaimed and with which she typically builds her narrative architecture. I found that I have grown weary of it.

The plotting of this story as well as its array of characters are all rendered in a much too cozy fashion. The sprawling plot meanders around the high-end courtesan houses of Shanghai during the early 1900's. The courtesans were known as flower girls who were trained from a young and tender age to entertain male clients and provide sexual services including the giving up of their highly prized virginity.
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I have enjoyed some Amy Tan novels but this certainly is not one of them. The plot is as old as the hills - young, arrogant girl falls on hard times and slides into the depths of cruel men and cold hearted madams, blah, blah, blah. The one dimensional plot is matched by the one dimensional characters, none of whom are likable nor interesting. Why they are the way they are goes unexplored as do plot narratives which seem to have been used only to get from point a to point b. Perhaps the most irritating part of this very irritating book is the use of coy terms for sexual organs. Men's stems are constantly entering gates of delight with glances at pink pearls guarding those gates, well you get the idea! The exception is the use of the word "pudendum" which stands in stark grabbed, rubbed, squeezed, contrast to the stems, pearls, gates, etc. This is a too long book, about too little happening, to self absorbed people who never touch, never mind grab, your attention.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*** Warning, there are some spoilers***
It is a testament to Tan's writing that I finished this book. I do not like spending so much time with characters I do not like or respect. Violet Minturn, the daughter of a famed American courtesan mistress in Shanghi, is someone I didn't enjoy. A spoiled brat would be a good description. Violet is half American, half Chinese, a fact that she doesn't discover until she's 8 or 9. She creeps around the house spying on all the courtesans at work. Nothing her mother does is good enough and Violet never feels loved.

Violet's mother decides to return to San Francisco and is tricked into leaving Violet behind. Word is sent to her that Violet has died. Violet is sold into another courtsesan house as a virgin and is trained to take up the profession. Even though she knows her mother was tricked in leaving her behind and that her mother believes her dead, she is outraged her mother doesn't come back for her. Her unhappiness colors every thing.

She gets involved in a relationship with an American and participates in a counterfeit identification that leads to horrendous results. I can not fathom why she does so and it is never explained. She is outraged, once again, that her duplicity is discovered. This character never seems to mature or make adult, well thought decisions. It is like she quit growing at 14.

The book is overly long. There's so much discussion of furnishings and clothes that I tended to nod off. I think it could have been edited by at least 100 pages and been a better story. I can see why it took her 8 years to write it as it is so detailed. I find that as an author gets more famous that there is less editing leading to really uneven stories.

Still I read it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A dedicated Amy Tan fan since her debut novel (which, though it was published a year before I was born, I revisit every year), I traveled to the Valley of Amazement already spellbound, anticipating the same sentiments that Joy Luck delivered.

I was disappointed. At the risk of publicizing my oversentimentality, I also felt betrayed. I pre-ordered the novel and waited patiently, checking my mailbox every afternoon. And though I could only read a few pages a day because of my graduate program, I kept thinking - hoping, certainly - the story would pick up, a redeeming epiphany would alter the book's tone, something would make the characters more likable, more human, more compassionate. I waited for the language to become less tedious, the grimy details of Shanghai less depressing, the flower/sex references less tacky. Like the patrons of these courtesan houses, I spent the whole novel waiting at the cusp of this valley and searching for what I desired most. But I never found it. Just like the patrons, I found illusions, cheap embellishments, shoddy furniture, and cheap, cheap, cheap sex.

At Tan's defense, I get it. Sex sells. "Fifty Shades" is a testament to that, among so many other empty "pieces of literature" that will never stand in the same light as the classics, the unrecognized talents, the Nobel Laureates, the Pulitzer Prize winners. True literary minds, true English enthusiasts, scoff at works like these - they shame us, embarrass us. To use Tan's own terminology, good literature - true, honest literature - is like a first wife. And cheap, repetitive sex scenes, empty characters, and stale plot - these are all slave girls. I am sad to admit that I finally saw the day I'd scoff at an author I idolized and admired most.
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