The Valley of Amazement

Tan, Amy

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Valley of Amazement
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, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2013
ISBN: 9780062107312
Characteristics: xiv, 589 pages ;,24 cm


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Mar 16, 2015
  • evensenann rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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.

Jan 24, 2015

Well. I have read other A Tan books and have enjoyed them. I enjoyed this one. But, I was very interested to read the comments of others. I too, skipped along, not bored exactly but waiting for something to unfold. I wasn't "offended" as some others were by the content, it all seems/ed plausible given the times. Explicit, yes, pornographic... bit harsh. Basically, the book wasn't as good as I had hopedbut certainly had entertainment value for lack of another word. Don't regret the time spent reading it.

Dec 17, 2014
  • tenj rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I feel like everyone wanted this to be the Chinese version of Memoirs of a Geisha. This book, however, is more. It's rougher, softer, scarier, deeper, truer, and harder to ignore. The difference lies in the fact that the author is a woman, and one who's own lineage contains stories similar to the ones written. The author of Memoirs...was a white male who more or less stole the words.

Yes, there are painfully descriptive bedroom scenes (and a lot of them). There are exceedingly grotesque realities and a new but familiar heartache at every turn. Nothing is really off limits. Tan's honesty alone is alienating and enough to justify the criticism. It is just plain uncomfortable. It made me wince and I literally passed out during one part. I get why some people would put this down halfway through. I did not, and I don't condemn it in length, subject, taste, or result.

Tan wrote it in such a way that I felt like she was telling me a secret. Because of detailed and taboo subject matter, she instantly makes her readers part of an inner circle. You feel like she's not sharing this with just anyone, but with someone fated to hear it. So I became committed, and in doing so I was able to feel the confusion, desperation, shock, resignation, and indulgent joy of these lives. If I could just get past one more painful page, I might be rewarded with a better fate. I enjoyed the floral themes, the ties of women to one another, and the breathlessness caused by highs and lows of love and tragedy.

I want to go around recommending this book to everyone, but it is just too pungent to do so. I can only speak for myself. For me, there are no subjects more dear than motherhood and history. I'll continue to eat up any such tales Amy Tan churns out regarding the two with so much enthusiasm, you'd think I was being paid to fake it.

Aug 30, 2014
  • kkelly00 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Story of 3 generations of Chinese/American women in China who disconnect from their mothers in various ways and make their own lives. Central parts of their lives are a high-class brothel and wealthy men who befriend them.

Aug 17, 2014
  • DorisWaggoner rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The bare outline of the story has great promise. But it's way too long. And while the characters might well have talked or thought about sex in that much detail, I didn't want to read about that much detail. A Shanghai prostitute, sure. A 14 yr old strictly-raised San Francisco girl--I don't think so! Some of it's funny, yes. The section on the sister-wives learning to enjoy each other's company and trust each other enough to escape together was a highlight. I only finished it, though, because I wanted to know what on earth any of this had to do with the Hudson River Valley, mentioned on the fly leaf! It was a long way from "The Joy Luck Club," which I go back to over and over. In other words, I don't think this book shows growth in a writer.

Jun 01, 2014
  • bixby rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

3 generations of courtesans in Shanghai... started out quite interesting but I felt it was too long and the story was drawn out.

May 12, 2014
  • brit4321 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book needed some serious editing. Way too rambling. A lot could have been cut...and that would have improved the story. ! did finish it, but that's more a reflection on me than the book. Disappointing.

May 09, 2014
  • jcavenaugh rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I loved this book, while I agree it as less amusing as Saving Fish From Drowning and as thought full as others, being a mother I felt eager and compelled to finish this book. The hopes and dreams of these women during this historical era really felt true to me in what these poor women went through. Some of the sections may be to graphic for some but her choice of words was truly gifted in toning down some of the uncomfortable erotic sections. What these women persevered through was truly incredible.

Apr 05, 2014
  • trgoethe rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Way too long! Was she writing a screen play? It could make an interesting erotic movie.

Feb 17, 2014

I love Amy Tan but I couldn't finish this book. Huge disappointment!

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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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