The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Amy Tan

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.

Wish List



I bet everyone is as busy as me with getting ready to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. My little pup is now 5 months old and our days are getting easier.  Soon, I’ll be able to read whenever I like.  Though I am enjoying him so very much, right now I am still way behind. Meanwhile, my books pile up ready and waiting.

If you are reading this then you are a book lover and book lovers gift books.  I am sharing my Wish List and hope that it might help you along the way.  Here we go:

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani makes the list as the sequel to The Shoemaker’s Wife a book I read and enjoyed this year. The story continues to follow the lives of the characters we have come to love in the previous novels.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson has sparked my interest. Set in Korea, love, honor, hunger and corruption all set the stage for a promising read.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan in true Tan fashion follows two women from Shanghai to remote villages in China. Mothers and daughters play key rolls. The novel promises to delight those that enjoyed The Joy Luck Club, which is one of my all time favorites.

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson is another one of her beautifully crafted love stories.  I’m a big fan of hers and she never fails to please me. Remember her from A Grown-Up Kinda Pretty and Gods in Alabama?

Sarah Jio once again grabs my attention with Morning Glory. Many years ago, I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of The Violets of March and since then I am a committed fan.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield made my list too. Years ago, my book club read The Thirteenth Tale and that book has stood out as one of our best reads. I am hoping for the same here with her latest about a boy who kills a bird and years later as an adult some revenge is taken.  This definitely sounds like one of her books!!

Well this is what I hope to be reading in 2014. Maybe you will find some that you can add to your wish list too and we can read them together. Happy shopping and look for my best and worst list in the next blog. I hope all the above make next years “best” list.