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The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
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The Valley of Amazement (2013)

by Amy Tan

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1,328699,183 (3.5)58
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Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
So well written and so interesting. I love the way Tan describes China at the turn of the century so that you really get a feel for the culture and the environment. I personally felt that there was a little too much sex in the book (but that might be my age shining through). I also felt like there was a lot of symbolism and I sometimes felt like I didn't really understand the symbolism. ( )
  KamGeb | Jul 28, 2018 |
I love the way Amy Tan is able to meld the western and eastern cultures into a complete tapestry. This is a journey that you take with the characters, feeling every step is your own. Much of the book had common threads with "Memoirs of a Geisha" (another favorite book of mine), and I was fearful that it would fail to have a character of its own. After reading the entire book, I was wrong. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Amy Tan shows us China, Chinese American women and their families, and the mystery of the mother-daughter bond in ways that we have not experienced before.
  PendleHillLibrary | Jul 3, 2018 |
This novel was okay. It is a multigenerational tale of downtrodden Chinese women. I found it to be a bit bland. I was engaged enough to listen to all 24 hours of the audiobook because I wanted to know how it ended. Mother's and daughter's, children stolen, live and loss, as well as acceptance and forgiveness are the themes. ( )
  hemlokgang | May 5, 2018 |
This novel is a tiny bit pat, as Ms Tan's novels can be, but The Valley of Amazement is still a grand tale of female agency and endurance of tragic circumstances in early twentieth Shanghai and, in part, San Francisco. TW: rape, kidnapping, male Machiavellian chicanery. ( )
  cindiann | May 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
In her first novel since 2005’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.
 
In her first novel in eight years, Amy Tan (Saving Fish From Drowning; The Joy Luck Club) spins a tale that propels us into the lives of three generations of women on both sides of the Pacific. At its vortex is half-Chinese and half-American Violet, an infinitely charismatic Shanghai courtesan who despite her material prosperity and professional success struggles with her identity, her past, and the possibility of real love. Tan's portrait of Violet's dominant, yet emotionally wounded mother Lucia possesses a poignancy that threads the novel together into a piece
added by shieldwolf | editBarnes & Noble (Nov 15, 2013)
 
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Epigraph
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Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither,
Your schemes, politics, fail, lines give away, substances mock and elude me,
Only the theme I sing, the great and strong-possess'd soul, eludes not,
One's-self, must never give way - that is the final substance - that out of all is sure,
Out of politics, triumphs, battles, life, what at last finally remains?
When shows break up what but One's-Self is sure?
Walt Whitman, "Quicksand Years"
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For Kathi Kamen Goldmark abd Zheng Cao, kindred spirits
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When I was seven, I knew exactly who I was: a thoroughly American girl in race, mannerism and speech, whose mother, Lulu Minturn, was the only white woman who owned a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai.
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Book description
n the first part of the story, Violet tells the story of growing up in Hidden Jade Path, a courtesan house in Shanghai that is run by her mother, an American woman named Lulu Minturn. Violet grows up unaware of her father and unsure of her mother's feelings for her.

When the Qing dynasty falls in 1912, mother and daughter are separated and the young girl is sold to a rivaling courtesan house, where she is educated by an older girl, Magic Gourd, formerly of her mother's house. The two form a lifelong relationship through Violet's marriages to former clients. Her first marriage results in a child, Flora, who is taken from Violet as a result of an unlawful marriage.

The second part of the story is told by the mother, who thinks the daughter is dead. She recalls her upbringing by remote parents in the US, her runaway with an unknown Chinese painter, and her struggle to be accepted as the mother of their two children.

Violet is eventually reunited with her mother, and eventually also her daughter Flora.
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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.… (more)

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