9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Illuminating a world of secrets and sensuality,
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This review is from: Rules for Virgins (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
In "Rules for Virgins" Amy Tan is back as our guide to the inscrutable Orient and the lush but dangerous life of courtesans living in pre-WWI Shanghai.
The life of a courtesan is as perilous as it is erotic as the beautiful young women compete for the attention of a wealthy admirer, and Tan is unrivaled in illuminating this culture of secrets and sensuality.
An experienced courtesan Magic Gourd lectures the beautiful, young Violet slowly introducing her to the intricacies and nuance of male patronage, power and above all pleasure and "all the ways that five thousand years of lovemaking, excitement" have devised.
Violet learns that the most beautiful aren't necessarily the ones who succeed economically and socially. The great courtesans are those women who "understand human nature, that of men and women both. They know how to attract attention and envy and bend it to their advantage."
Violets' introduction to this exotic world is the main thread but as Magic Gourd reveals bits of her own past we discover her story of love and loss. We're also taken into the world of 1912 Shanghai, the bustle of commerce and fashion and the relentless snooping of the tabloid press, always hovering like mosquitoes.
Magic Gourd commands the stage as mentor to Violet. Her wiles and professional knowledge are in contrast to Violet's innocence and absence of guile. Violet needs to be carefully taught and Magic Gourd is the expert instructor.
I think Tan has earned her following because she's a better story teller than most writers. What I found remarkable about "Rules for Virgins" is Tan's ability to compress so much detail and narrative into so few pages. The story she tells is both dense and intense. It's sort of like eating a morsel of deep, dark chocolate. The story like the chocolate is very satisfying.
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Initial post: Dec 6, 2011 9:08:50 AM PST
K. Gardner says:
Excellent review! Very well-written :-)
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