The Valley of Amazement

Amy Tan

In fin de siècle Shanghai, Violet Minturn grows up at Hidden Jade Path, the city’s most exclusive courtesan house. But when revolution comes, she is separated from her mother and forced to become a “virgin courtesan.” Both Chinese and American, Violet moves between these cultural worlds, becoming a shrewd businesswoman who deals in seduction and illusion. But her successes belie her private turmoil. Violet’s need for answers propels her on a quest of discovery: a journey to make sense of her life, to right the wrongs of the past – to find love requited. Spanning fifty years and two continents, ‘The Valley of Amazement’ dramatises the collapse of China’s imperial dynasty and the secret life of the courtesan house. Unfolding old family secrets, this novel returns readers to the compelling territory of ‘The Joy Luck Club’. With her characteristic wisdom, grace and humour, she conjures a story of the inheritance of love, its mysteries and betrayals, and its illusions and truths.

Reviews of The Valley of Amazement

  • 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.’ Guardian

    ‘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.’ Vogue

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