by Amy Tan

Review

The mother-daughter theme of Amy Tan’s new novel, The Valley of Amazement, will be a familiar one for fans of her previous works.  Tan delves into the complex relationships and nuanced interactions of several generations of strong female characters.  The author reveals her inspiration for this novel came from a photograph of her own grandmother.  
This story centers around half-Chinese/half-American Violet Minturn, growing up in her mother’s first-class courtesan house in Shanghai during the tumultuous start of the 20th century.  Tan did extensive research on the courtesan world and describes it with great attention to detail.  A woman must be cunning and clever to navigate the delicate negotiations of this trade.  The novel’s fourth chapter, “Etiquette for Beauties of the Boudoir”, is a courtesan’s handbook from 1912 Shanghai.  This is available as a Kindle Single titled Rules for Virgins.
The prevailing mood of this epic mirrors that of the landscape painting by Violet’s Father, Lu Shing, with the selfsame title as the novel.  Violet falls victim to elaborate betrayals and her life is as wrought with gloom as the dark clouds looming over the ill-fated valley.
The audio version of the book features voice talents of Audie Award winner Joyce Bean, Nancy Wu, and the author.

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