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The Valley of Amazement

by Amy Tan

Book Club Recommendations eBooks of the Month Family Drama Historical Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction

LoveReading View on The Valley of Amazement

Violet is half-American, half-Chinese, and in the turn of the century Shanghai, as the revolution looms, she is separated from her mother and becomes a courtesan.  We follow both women through turbulent lives.  Amy Tan is an expert at recreating the period, the tension, the colour, and the fear.  It’s a wonderful insight into the world of the courtesan, a long, absorbing book of love and survival.

Sarah Broadhurst

The Valley of Amazement Synopsis

An expansive, heartbreaking novel from the internationally bestselling author of 'The Joy Luck Club'. In turn-of-the-century Shanghai, Violet Minturn is raised by her American mother, the mistress of the city's most renowned courtesan house. When the revolution comes, a cruel deception forces Violet to become a virgin courtesan. 'The Valley of Amazement' is the story of three women, bound by blood and betrayal. But, as she struggles to understand her heritage, it is Violet's determination to forge her own destiny that propels this bittersweet tale of family secrets, changing identities and lost love.

The Valley of Amazement Reader Reviews

We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review The Valley of Amazement. You can read their reviews below.


Claudia Stach - 'Through the eyes of Violet I travelled to a Shanghai long gone, laughed and suffered with her in a city and society prone to grave the end I was unwilling to leave Violet and her family and would have liked to stay with them for a little longer.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Helen Sidebottom - 'This story has just about everything in it, love, lust, lies, deceit, loyalty, cruelty but amongst the sorrow always hope that people would meet a just fate and that lives would be reunited across the oceans.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Judy Connolly -
'I was swept up in this story and didn't want it to end....A really good book.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Sarah Musk -
'A powerful, thought-provoking book set mainly in early twentieth century China.  The story of a mother and daughter both forced through difficult circumstances to become courtesans.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Jillian McFrederick -
'In The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan succeeds in painting for us not just a valley but a country of amazing detail and depth...An epic read but well worth the effort!  Click Here to read the full review.

Victoria Halliday -
'An epic story of the life of an American mother and her Chinese daughter in the early 20th century...this is a book that you'll struggle to put down.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Nicola Foster -
'Amy Tan’s new novel is a masterfully woven historical saga encompassing love, lies, secrets and betrayal.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Mary Mitchell -
'As soon as this book opens Amy Tan plunges into the secret and mysterious world of the Shanghai courtesans.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Sandra Robinson -
'There are moments of joy, sorrow, pain and love and the ending is so bittersweet. I loved this book, a great and fascinating read and would highly recommend it.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Phylippa Smithson -
'Do not be put off by the 589 pages to this fantastic latest story from Amy Tam.  This is a wholly absorbing read and one which all mothers and daughters will particularly enjoy.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Sarah Harper -
'The Valley of Amazement is mesmerizingly beautiful, unbelievably sad and yet somehow hopeful at the same time.  An evocative and absorbing read.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Kath Thornton -
'This is a gripping epic story of female survival which covers three generations...It is well worth reading right to the bittersweet ending.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Elisabeth Thomas -
'A perfect book for those who like an insight into a previously unknown world and who want an intelligent book which explores the importance of female friendship, loyalty, love and betrayal.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Lynn Curtis -
'With its audacious time structure and highly detailed background, the book takes a refreshingly different approach to a subject that could have descended into melodrama in the hands of a less skillful author – I highly recommend it.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Susan Walsh -
'East meets West in a tale of China's beauties and the life of Courtesans...‘The Valley of Amazement’ will touch your very soul, as you feel the emotion run deep.'  Click Here to read the full review.

Barbara Gaskell -
'Tan’s beautiful descriptive language brings historic Shanghai and the humanness of Violet and her mother, Lucia fully to life...Highly recommended.'  Click Here to read the full review.


Sue Broom - 'This is a very funny book - hilarious dialogue and jaunty narration.  A celebration of female friendship and mother love.'  Click Here to read the full review.


Joy Bosworth - 'I found the graphic details quite astonishing.  The descriptions make the reader feel as if they are actually present.'  Click Here to read the full review.




Praise for Amy Tan: 'Among our great storytellers. In each of her previous novels, she has seduced readers with the intimate magic of her tale
New York Times

'Tan is a prodigal with her talent. She weaves a dazzling web of unfamiliar colours, smells, tastes and landscapes'
Sunday Telegraph

'There is something dizzyingly elemental about Tan's storytelling; it melds the rich simplicities of fairytales with a delicate lyrical style'
Sunday Times

'Could there be a better model for writers today than Amy Tan? She tells great stories with powerful themes: love, belonging, exile, death, compassion. She moves easily between pathos, comedy and joy'
Scotland on Sunday

The Valley of Amazement Press Reviews

Praise for 'The Valley of Amazement':


'Tan explores, sensitively, the edges of some thorny topics ... Chinese-Americans are among the most dynamic, and socially cohesive, ethnic groups in the US ... Tan is one of their leading voices ... Tan's fiction is, as always, hugely readable.'
Sunday Times

'Tan, who was born in the US to Chinese immigrant parents, is a gifted storyteller ... Just as Violet is a complex character beyond her Asian and white ethnic roots, Tan's large-hearted, florid and ragged tale goes beyond casual stereotypes. This is one writer's particular idiom and vision of the world - and within that she offers us a rich cast of characters who both repel and compel.'
Financial Times

'Admirers of Amy Tan will love her latest blockbuster ... a warm, expansive story, examining the subtle bonds between mothers and daughters.'
Mail on Sunday

'The characters are wonderful. You can't help but fall in love with people who are named Cracked Egg or Magic Cloud ...For fans of historical fiction, 'The Valley of Amazement' offers a fascinating insight into a hidden world belonging to a bygone era, as it flits from harrowing to humorous.' Stylist Magazine

'Expansive, poised and, at times, heartbreaking, this delicately-spun tale, which has the grace of a courtly dance and the subtleties of a thousand chess moves, will be loved by fans of Tan's bestseller The Joy Luck Club .'
Sunday Express

'She has surpassed herself ... She has by no means exhausted her supply of fictional women who pass to each other, through the generations, a determination not to be broken, no matter what.'
Independent on Sunday

'Packs enough drama to keep readers going till the end.'

'Historic sweep mixes with erotic candour in a heady mix, brought to an excellent bake by the skillful Amy Tan.'
Daily Mail

'A lush historical epic.'

'A vivid portrait of life in 19th Century China, with some rather saucy Fifty Shades-style sex scenes thrown in.'
Good Housekeeping

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007476480
Publication date: 15/07/2014
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780007456277
Publication date: 05/11/2013
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007476480
Publication date: 15th July 2014
Author: Amy Tan
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 608 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction,
Collections: 50+ Novels That Explore the Wonders of Asia,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Amy Tan

Born in the US to immigrant Chinese parents, Amy Tan is an internationally celebrated writer. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, TheBonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning, all New York Times bestsellers. She is also the author of a memoir, The Opposite of Fate, and two children's books. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.

More About Amy Tan

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