Moving between the glittering world of courtesans in turn of the century Shanghai, a remote Chinese mountain village, and the rough-hewn streets of 19th century San Francisco, Amy Tan's 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 undo all that Violet believed she knew about her mother. Spanning fifty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement sweeps the reader along a deeply moving narrative of family secrets, the legacies of traumas, and the profound connections between mothers and daughters, returning readers to 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 the inheritance of love, its mysteries and senses, its illusions and truths.
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November 05, 2013
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