Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

4 Star

Moving between the dazzling world of courtesans in turn of the century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of nineteenth-century San Francisco, Amy Tan's sweeping new 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."

Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai, a beautiful and intelligent woman who has honed her ability to become any man's fantasy since her start as a "Virgin Courtesan" at the age of twelve. Half-Chinese and half-American, she moves effortlessly between the East and the West. But her talents belie her private struggle to understand who she really is and her search for a home in the world. Abandoned by her mother, Lucia, and uncertain of her father's identity, Violet's quest to truly love and be loved will set her on a path fraught with danger and complexity-and the loss of her own daughter.

Lucia, a willful and wild American woman who was once herself the proprietress of Shanghai's most exclusive courtesan house, nurses her own secret wounds, which she first sustained when, as a teenager, she fell in love with a Chinese painter and followed him from San Francisco to Shanghai. Her search for penance and redemption will bring her to a startling reunion with Flora, Violet's daughter, and will shatter all that Violet believed she knew about her mother.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

It has been some time since I have read a book by Amy Tan and right away I recalled just how powerful her writing is. Her descriptions are unparalleled and she is masterful at transporting the reader into the era that she writes about. I make no secret about the fact that historical fiction is not my forte, but I adore her books about bygone eras in Chinese history which is a true testament to just how fully appealing she makes the story.

China has such a rich and complex history which Tan is adept at making interesting while keeping details concise and weaving them throughout her story. It is apparent that her knowledge is vast and that she has done extensive research into her story.

The characters are supremely well developed and intriguing, all in very different ways and in different circumstances yet with remarkable similarities, at least for the ones related to each other.

The Valley of Amazement was, however, at times frustrating for me. I felt it sometimes dragged on a bit and yet I still was intrigued enough to keep reading which isn't always the case when I feel that a story should be moving forward. I think that my impatience is not indicative of the power of the story and that every detail is well thought out and has its reason for being there. This is a story so complex and rich in detail that I would actually probably have to read it again to fully get everything that I may have missed as there is just a wealth of historical content alone aside from the story.

This is a great novel for the avid reader of historical fiction especially for those who might love a complex story involving family but definitely with a very different twist on it.

Thank you to HarperCollins for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Amy Tan:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...