The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Valley of Amazement



Once again I found myself faced with a reading challenge. First it was a new demanding puppy and now cataract surgery. You can’t keep an avid reader without a book for long and despite some stumbling blocks; I was able to finish reading The Valley of Amazement (B) by Amy Tan. I can’t say it was entirely worth the effort.

Lucia Miniturn is an American madam running an exclusive courtesan house in China. She has a young daughter named Violet who is half American and half Chinese. Violet is not her only child. She also given birth to a son, Teddy who was immediately taken from her by his Chinese father. Violet has never received her mother’s love and attention and now this mysterious sibling has sealed the deal. Lucia has made arrangements through an unsavory patron to gain passage on a ship heading for San Francisco. She has been promised that once there she can again be with Teddy.  She has been deceived and the ship sets sail leaving Violet behind; sold as a Virgin Courtesan.

The tale continues with Violet’s story of survival. It is here that the reading becomes laborious with over 100 pages of unnecessary details preparing Violet for deflowering. Luckily, I prevailed and the story that follows was more of what I expected from a Tan novel. Honestly, I persisted based solely on her previous work.

Clearly this is not for everyone. If you have never read an Amy Tan book before this is not the place to start. If you have, you might push through and be pleasantly rewarded. I have said before that more isn’t necessarily better. This is true here. Try it and see if you find yourself in The Valley of “amazement” or “daze-ment”. It could go either way.


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