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  • Published: New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2013.
  • Year Published: 2013
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Description: 589 pages ; 24 cm
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 9780062107312
  • 0062107313

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The valley of amazement

by Tan, Amy.

There are currently 11 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Fiction

Available Copies: Downtown 1st Floor, Malletts Adult, Pittsfield Adult, Traverwood Adult, West Adult

Additional Details

Violet Minturn, a half-Chinese/half-American courtesan who deals in seduction and illusion in Shanghai, struggles to find her place in the world, while her mother, Lucia, tries to make sense of the choices she has made and the men who have shaped her.

Community Reviews

Rip-bodice romance or Fem titillation?

This hefty volume offers an extensive view of the institution of courtesan houses in China,. its roler to provide pastime enjoyment for wealthy men. In elegant setting, carefully trained girls and women aged 14 or 15 to about 25 provided conversation, food and drink, instrumental and vocal music, dance, recitation of poetry and stories,The courtesan used her charms to elicit jewelry and money as tips for special favors, including sex. A clever courtesan's future might be to own and manage a house. As part of a rigidly structured society,a woman's choices were marriage, often as part of a hierarchy of wives, concubinage, a sort of secondary level monogamous relationship, or as a courtesan. Beyond these roles, probably the next in terms of some degree of security would be as servants. Excluded from these, the options were begging, theft, and prostitution.

It should be noted that none of these roles offered a woman any choice. In all, a woman was a purchase item. Only luck or cleverness might shield a woman from neglect or abuse. Better a wife than a beggar or whore, in terms of food and shelter. Not much to choose in terms of autonomy.

In this context, Tan creates a set of characters trying to make the best of the situation they've fallen into. This she does with her usual skill.

What prompts my cynical title is behaviors by the women more familiar in the Harlequin romance--the flouncing out, the pouting, the yearning for the handsome charmer. Or is this, I thought, listening to a book club discussion, intended to trigger our feminist outrage, 21st century style, to post-Imperial Republican China? In the end, a monumental research effort that provides the setting for too many examples of individual behavior, making for tedious reading about a fascinating cultural phenomenon.

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