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The Valley of Amazementby Amy Tan
Synopses & Reviews
An astonishing debut novel inspired by the life of the legendary Qing dynasty courtesan, Sai Jinhua.
The year is 1881, the era of Chinas humiliation at the hands of imperialist Europe. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left alone and unprotected, her life transformed after her mandarin fathers summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. As an orphan, she endures the brutal logic of a brothel-keeper, who puts her to work as a so-called money tree, and she survives the worst of human nature with the friendship and wisdom of the crippled brothel maid.
When an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, she leaves both the trauma of brothel life and the comfort of friendship behind and encounters for the first time the tantalizing and elusive notion of Great Love.” She travels with her emissary husband to Europe and discovers there the mesmerizing strangeness, irresistible sensualities, and exotic possibilities of fin de siècle Vienna, while struggling against the constraints of tradition and her husbands wishes.
Sai Jinhua is an altered woman when she returns to a changed and changing China, where a terrible clash of East and West is brewing, and where her western sympathies will ultimately threaten not only her own survival but the survival of those who are most dear to her.
The Courtesan is a timeless tale of friendship and sacrifice, temptation and redemption; the story of a womans journey to discern what is real and abiding, and a book that shines a small light on the large history of Chinas relations with the West.
New York Times bestseller The Valley of Amazement is an evocative epic of two women's intertwined fates and their search for identity—from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the fog-shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village
Shanghai, 1912. Violet Minturn is the daughter of the American madam of the city's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Spanning more than forty years and two continents, Amy Tan's newest novel maps the lives of three generations of women—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 growth of 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 humor, Tan conjures up a story of inherited trauma, desire, deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.
Amy Tans The Valley of Amazement is a sweeping, evocative epic of two womens intertwined fates and their search for identity, that moves from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the fog-shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village.
Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement resurrects pivotal episodes in history: from the collapse of Chinas last imperial dynasty, to the rise of the Republic, the explosive growth of lucrative foreign trade and anti-foreign sentiment, to the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreign “Shanghailanders” living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II.
A deeply evocative narrative about the profound connections between mothers and daughters, The Valley of Amazement returns readers to the compelling territory of Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic insight and humor, she conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.
About the Author
Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, Saving Fish from Drowning, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, which was adapted into a PBS television series. Tan was also a coproducer and coscreenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club. Her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and her work has been translated into thirty-five languages. She lives with her husband in San Francisco and New York.
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