Amy Tan The Valley of Amazement

ISBN 13: 9780007476480

The Valley of Amazement

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9780007476480: The Valley of Amazement

A sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity, which moves from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesan houses to the mountains of a remote Chinese village and the fog-shrouded streets of San Francisco

Spanning more than forty years and two continents, Amy Tan’s newest novel maps the lives of three generations of women connected by blood and history—and the mystery of an evocative painting known as “The Valley of Amazement.” Moving from the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty to the rise of the Republic, the growth of lucrative foreign trade and anti-foreign sentiment, and the inner workings of courtesan houses, The Valley of Amazement interweaves the story of Violet, a celebrated Shanghai courtesan on a quest for both love and identity, and her mother, Lucia, an American woman whose search for penance leads them to an unexpected reunion. The Valley of Amazement is a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, legacies and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, reminiscent of the compelling territory Tan so expertly mapped in The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic wisdom, grace and humour, Tan conjures up a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.

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An expansive, heartbreaking novel from the internationally bestselling author of 'The Joy Luck Club'. In turn-of-the-century Shanghai, Violet Minturn is raised by her American mother, the mistress of the city's most renowned courtesan house. When the revolution comes, a cruel deception forces Violet to become a virgin courtesan. 'The Valley of Amazement' is the story of three women, bound by blood and betrayal. But, as she struggles to understand her heritage, it is Violet's determination to forge her own destiny that propels this bittersweet tale of family secrets, changing identities and lost love.

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

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