The Valley of Amazement

The Valley of Amazement

eBook - 2013
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Violet Minturn, a half-Chinese/half-American courtesan who deals in seduction and illusion in Shanghai, struggles to find her place in the world, while her mother, Lucia, tries to make sense of the choices she has made and the men who have shaped her.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, 2013.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062107336
Branch Call Number: eBook OverDrive
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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Jun 19, 2020

I feel like this book has been unfairly scrutinized by many other reviewers. I had a wonderful time reading this novel which creates a vast and vivid world to immerse yourself into, and speaks beautifully of relationships and love and loss.

The Valley of Amazement is a historical novel touches a subject that some may find hard to digest, courtesans and prostitution. However, that is not what this book is about. It is about women's lives and relationships through the lens of courtesans. It is not pornographic, it does granted, speak frankly about sex and sexuality, however it is all part of the story, and a fascinating part at that. One should approach this book with an open mind as it exposes the reader to new ideas.

The length too some people found an issue, but I became so immersed in it I finished it in only two days. It is a long book, this is an epic, not a book to be rushed. Don't approach it thinking you will get base information and it'll be over quickly, instead think of it as a world you are being given a glimpse into, that is what Tan is doing. She is showing you a world of times past that is rarely mentioned.

I adored this book, it was a beauty to read, I learned so much, and the story was deeply immersive. Sure it may not have been quick or clean, but the raw emotion that lay within was worth all of the pain. I urge you to read this book if you come across it, it has something for everyone and it will not disappoint.

Jun 05, 2020

While not a bad book (at least until the final chapter), The Valley of Amazement is also not one of Amy Tan's better books and if you were to read only one I'd not recommend picking this one.

Aug 01, 2019

I adore Amy Tan....but not this book. Sadly I only made it about 1/4 way before I threw in the towel. The story didn't catch my attention, disappointed..not all up to par with her other books in my opinion.

Apr 25, 2017

Disappointing, It almost reads as another version of the Joy Luck Club. Tan fails to discuss the cultural and political history of Shanghai during this chaotic period of history. The gangs, the rise of the Communists, the takeover of Chang gets the shortest and most passing references. The narrative's focus. the lives of high class prostitutes, has little or no meat on these bones. The book could have been about writers, or jewelers. Being a prostitute serves only as a backdrop to her stories of 3 generations of women. The story of the kidnapping and return to the 3rd generation is virtually unbelievable. How can a high class person, with money and contacts just let her daughter be taken is it a best an clunky plot device to bring the mother and daughter back together. All the men are bad or foolish. All the women are good.

And having the mother and daughter sailing off in the the happy sunset at the beginning of the really bad times of WW 2 gives us all a happy and contented ending. Jane Austin of the 21st century without the writing talent.

Aug 26, 2016

A powerful and compelling story of three generations of women: their individual stories intertwined with loss, heartbreak, betrayals and yet always with hope.

Sep 20, 2015

This is a carefully crafted and well-researched epic. Make it through the extremely detailed setup and the payoff is high. Think of it as a slow burn.

Tan's focus is almost solely on the emotional evolution of the characters, not on history or coincidence or relationships or action, although these things are there. If you're looking for a light read, don't bother. This book takes work and requires empathy. The point of reading this isn't to be spoon-fed a story, but to imagine how you'd feel in the characters' place. It's not always comfortable, but is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Aug 27, 2015

This was and extremely well written novel. Yes it is long. But it has a very subtle shift in every story portion that is developed. This appears to be the type of book a mature writer would create. It takes a lifetime to learn how to write like this. It is worth the time and effort.

Jun 09, 2015

I was really looking forward to this but it left me a bit deflated. Apparently Amy Tan has a photo of her grandmother in a particular style of dress. She learned that photos at that time were rare and the clothing was typically worn by a courtesan – and thus began the story. However well it was written, it seemed to rely too much on coincidence. The premise sounded just so good. Hesitantly recommended.

May 19, 2015

For the first few pages of this book I thought of it as Kama Sutra meets Harlequin. Then the real story emerged and I recognized it for the epic that it was. The story speaks of various forms of love in the lives of Lulu, Violet, and Flora and by the time I reached the last page I couldn't keep the tears from flowing.
A really powerful book which talks about a delicate subject - describing the lives of courtesans in early twentieth century Shanghai - and the love that survives in this atmosphere. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone.

Mar 16, 2015

I think this book needed heavy editing for length. The story was interesting enough but could have been told in many fewer pages which would have made it a better read.

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Feb 08, 2014

"I was chasing after happiness, that false salvation, all the way to a desolate place. I might not find it. And if I did, it might simply be the illusion I had created in my mind, and if I held onto it as real, I would exist only as part of that illusion."


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