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The Valley of Amazement Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062107313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062107312
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D0pwe4vaQo
www.amytan.net
https://www.facebook.com/BomboMama?ref=tn_tnmn
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyTan

Customer Reviews

I learned a great deal about Chinese culture and history.
Thoughtful Reviewer
By the time we get to the heroine's mother's back story, I no longer cared what happened, I just wanted to finish the book so I could read something else.
S. A. Waggoner
The story was interesting, but not very believable and very few of the characters were likable ... Not one of Amy Tan's greats.
roland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

291 of 318 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 4, 2013
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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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Lois S. Murphy on November 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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113 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Susan Johnson VINE VOICE on November 4, 2013
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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157 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Y. Scott VINE VOICE on October 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Violet was raised in a courtesan house in Shanghai run by her American mother Lulu. Lulu was not only the madam of one of the most exclusive courtesan house, but a rich and well connected business woman. As a daughter of a powerful American woman, Violet considered herself above courtesans and Chinese people. She later found out that her father was Chinese and she was only half American. That fact added to her self identity problems.

When Violet was 14, Lulu decided to leave Shanghai to go home because of the political instability. Then, Lulu was tricked by her lover, and ended up leaving Violet behind. Violet was sold to another Courtesan house and forced to become a virgin courtesan. Violet experienced many heartaches, and eventually learned to live her life as well as possible.

I have read every book (except for children's books) by Amy Tan. And she is one of my favorite authors. "The Valley of Amazement" would be my 4th favorite of hers after 1)The Hundred Secret Senses, 2)The Joy Luck Club, 3)The Bonesetter's Daughter: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle).

These are the reasons why "The Valley of Amazement" is not my number one favorite;

1) I love Amy Tan's sense of humor. She can make you laugh while you are crying, but this novel didn't have it.

2) This novel reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel.
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