The epic story of women of three generations from the same family. The novel takes place in the late 1800's and early 1900's primarily in China. If you want to learn about Chinese culture and primarily the courtesan life and traditions that were prevalent during that period this book is fascinating. If you are already well versed in the subject you will still find the struggles of these women heart rendering and well worth the time. Amy Tan is a master of books that draw you in and teach you at the same time.
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Dana Cutler Series
|Number of Pages|
The Valley of Amazement
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
6.70 x 4.10 x 1.80 Inches
The epic story of wome...
With her first novel i...
With her first novel in eight years, Amy Tan returns to the theme that she does so well: mothers and daughters. Spanning four generations and two continents, The Valley of Amazement tells us the story of Lucia (Lulu), her daughter Violet, Violet's daughter Flora, and Magic Gourd, the courtesan who stood in as surrogate mother to Violet after her mother left her in Shanghai. Conflicts with her mother and father lead Lulu to become sexually active at a young age and at a time when this was not permissible to women. When she falls in love with a visiting Chinese artist, she runs away from home and follows him to Shanghai. But she ends up having to make her own way, with Violet a toddler and her infant son kidnapped by the artist's family. With few paths open to a woman in China at the time, Lulu chooses to establish a courtesan house, which becomes renowned for accepting both Western and Chinese clients and for providing business advice. She becomes wealthy, but doesn't realize what growing up in a brothel, however high class, is doing to her daughter, who feels the business- and her missing brother- mean more to Lulu than Violet does, just as Lulu had felt her mother's passion for science mean more to her than Lulu did. The story is written from more than one point of view; Violet, Magic Gourd, and Lulu all take a turn speaking. All have hard lives; the men in their lives are, for the most part, uncaring as to the needs of the women, treating them as objects that will be dealt with only when convenient- or even keeping them as outright slaves. Taking place in the dawn of the 20th century, the story is set against the political and social changes that took place in China. I loved this book and couldn't put it down. The details of the lives of these women made them come alive; what they wore, what they were expected to do, how they felt. I have to admit I had a hard time liking Violet at first; she comes off as a spoiled brat in some ways, but when you figure that she was being left on her own so much of the time, with only her cat as a friend, it's hard to expect her to be otherwise. And she very quickly learned how hard life could be later. I was disappointed in 'Saving Fish From Drowning' but I'm very happy to see that Tan has returned with a great story.
Using a cherished fami...
Using a cherished family photo for inspiration, Amy Tan has produced a moving, beautifully constructed (and lengthy) novel. While researching a novel about Shanghai, Tan came across photos taken in Shanghai in the early 1900's. Tan came across one photo that was similar to a photo of her grandmother. In it, Tan's grandmother is dressed similarly to the early 20th century courtesans of Shanghai. While Tan had no idea if her grandmother was actually a courtesan or this was simply a photo studio costume, it led her to imagine the lives of these women, most of whom had no other options for surviving on their own. Thus was born The Valley of Amazement. This is a complex tale of an American woman who operates a courtesan house in Shanghai in the early 20th century. Lulu Minturn is raising her daughter, Violet, in Hidden Jade Path, a first class courtesan house catering to both Chinese and westerners. Lulu is estranged from her San Francisco family. Lulu's poor decisions lead to Violet's becoming a Shanghai courtesan while Lulu returns to San Francisco. Most of this novel revolves around Violet's life. Violet struggles to survive as she becomes older, and less desirable. Also, the world is changing rapidly and the courtesans are becoming less fashionable. While Violet adapts to what she views as her mother's abandonment, she is also searching for love and a permanent place in the world. About 3/4 of the way through the book, the focus turns to Lulu, and how she ended up a single mother in Shanghai. We learn of her struggles with her San Francisco family. We see how her impulsive decisions led her down a difficult path. Lulu's relationship with Violet's father is is troubled, and of course this complicates Violet's emotions and her dealings with men. Despite its length, The Valley of Amazement was a quick read. As with Amy Tan's other novels, the compelling story and sympathetic characters made me want to keep reading. I highly recommend this fine novel.
An American woman in S...
An American woman in Shanghai,Lulu runs the most sophisticated courtesan house; atypically, it caters to both Chinese and Western clients. As politics change in the early 20th Century, Lulu decides to leave China but, in the process, her daughter Violet is kidnapped and forced to become a courtesan as well. We then follow Violet through love affairs, the intimacies and struggles of her profession and innumerable misadventures. Amy Tan is always a good, engaging read, but this novel lacks the depth of relationships and credibility of her earlier works.
The novel opens with V...
The novel opens with Violet Minturn at 7, a "thoroughly American girl in race, manners, and speech," who lives with her mother, Lulu Minturn, "the only white woman who owned a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai." Sex in this novel is not erotic; it's business - the business of creating romance and illusion to attract a patron who signs an exclusive contract for a year or more. Lucia is tricked into leaving behind her daughter, who is now 14, and the adventures of Violet, the Virgin Courtesan, begin. The story sweeps you up in the wildly changing fortunes of a clever courtesan.
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