Amy Tan's new novel returns to the mother-daughter terrain she explores so beautifully in her earlier work but in a manner and setting that's as unsentimental as it is original, riveting, and rich. Recommended By Happy Bookseller, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
New York Times
bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan brings us her latest novel: a sweeping, 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 privileged 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 in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West — until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is.
Back in 1897 San Francisco, Violet's mother, Lucia, chooses a disastrous course as a sixteen-year-old, when her infatuation with a Chinese painter compels her to leave her home for Shanghai. Shocked by her lover's adherence to Chinese traditions, she is unable to change him, despite her unending American ingenuity.
Fueled by betrayals, both women refuse to submit to fate and societal expectations, persisting in their quests to recover what was taken from them: respect; a secure future; and, most poignantly, love from their parents, lovers, and children. To reclaim their lives, they take separate journeys — to a backwater hamlet in China, the wealthy environs of the Hudson River Valley, and, ultimately, the unknown areas of their hearts, where they discover what remains after their many failings to love and be loved.
Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement transports readers from the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty to the beginning of the Republic and recaptures the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreigners living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II. A deeply evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, imbued with Tan's characteristic insight and humor, The Valley of Amazement conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and obstinacy of love.
"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. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“This utterly engrossing novel is highly recommended to all readers who appreciate an authors ability to transport them to a new world they will not forget. As a plus, this reviewer sensed the harbinger of a sequel by the last page.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Tan is a skilled storyteller....A satisfyingly complete, expertly paced yarn.” Kirkus Reviews
“Tan's prodigious, sumptuously descriptive, historically grounded, sexually candid, and elaborately plotted novel counters violence, exploitation, betrayal, and tragic cultural divides with beauty, wit, and transcendent friendship between women.” Booklist (starred review)
“The author of The Joy Luck Club and The Hundred Secret Senses can deliver a sweeping family saga like nobody else.” Newsday (Fall Preview)
“Its been a long eight years since Amy Tan's last novel, but The Valley of Amazement proves that good things — breathtaking things — come to those who wait....It's wonderful to be back in Amy's magical and amazing world.” Lisa See, author of international bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls
“Amy Tan is one of our blackest-belted scriveners, and this is her masterwork.” Mary Pearson, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Liars' Club, Cherry, and Lit
Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement
is a sweeping, evocative epic of two women's 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 China's 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 Sagwa, which was adapted into a PBS Kids production. 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.