Customer Review

174 of 211 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic story of a courtesan at the turn of the 19th century Shanghai, October 24, 2013
This review is from: The Valley of Amazement (Hardcover)
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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. Unconsciously, I was comparing them. Finding similarities and differences between Japanese courtesan house and Chinese one was interesting, but I don't think it's a good way to enjoy a new novel by such a talented author.

3) It's unnecessarily long. It could be shorter.

4) Too predictable.

5) Mother daughter relationship story of Lulu, Violet, and Flora didn't add very much to the story. It unnecessarily complicated the story.

However, Amy Tan is still a great story teller, and there are many beautiful moments. It's much better than the last novel Saving Fish from Drowning. It's as good as The Kitchen God's Wife. Welcome back, Amy!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 30, 2013 3:28:14 PM PDT
well if its "as good as the Kitchen God's Wife" it must be magnificent, as that is what Kitchen God's Wife is. It is my favorite book of her's, much better then a Hundred Secret Senses which is the ONLY Tan book I could barely get through. Guess we have different tastes for sure.

Posted on Oct 30, 2013 9:05:16 PM PDT
VanHatten says:
Saving Fish From Drowning is a better book than most people give it credit for [most reviewers seem to bash it...I for one really like it]. Anyway I wish I could read a book that hasn't even been released yet! How do you do that?

Can't wait to read Ms. Tan's latest.

Posted on Feb 10, 2014 6:06:59 AM PST
Susan McLean says:
I did not enjoy this book and skipped and skimmed through it after the opening section, then turned to the end to see if mother and daughter reunited. And that only because my book group is reading it. Guess I am just not a Tan fan.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2015 2:51:11 PM PST
Julia Arzon says:
I liked reading Saving Fish From Drowning too. I actually listened to it read by the author. The Valley of Amazement is not even close. This is Amy Tan's book that I liked the least and I've read all her novels so far...
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Y. Scott
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Location: Lexington, MA, United States

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