The Valley of Amazement
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Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement is a sweeping, evocative epic of two women’s intertwined fates and their search for identity, that moves from the lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the fog-shrouded mountains of a remote Chinese village.
Spanning more than forty years and two continents, The Valley of Amazement resurrects pivotal episodes in history: from the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty, to the rise of the Republic, the explosive growth of lucrative foreign trade and anti-foreign sentiment, to the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreign “Shanghailanders” living in the International Settlement, both erased by World War II.
A deeply evocative narrative about the profound connections between mothers and daughters, The Valley of Amazement returns readers to the compelling territory of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. With her characteristic insight and humor, she conjures a story of inherited trauma, desire and deception, and the power and stubbornness of love.
venomous creatures emerged. In the late fall, there were tigers and bears hunting for food to last the winter. Those who did not become lost and who survived all the dangers would receive their fondest wish—that is, if they rid themselves of any thoughts of desire so that they could approach the Buddha with the right mind. If you desired a son, you had to tell yourself not to think about a son. If you wanted wealth, you had to stop picturing piles of gold. Unfortunately, by reminding yourself to
Our faces were quite frightening. Magic Gourd and I had been hoarding food to last the three of us for three days. There was nothing I could not bear to part with. Everything would be a burden on either my heart or my back. I would bring only the clothes that would serve me best during warm days and cold nights. But then I remembered something I could not leave behind: Edward’s journal and his and Little Flora’s photos. I recalled the terrible day that Flora was snatched from me. I had looked at
I let him into my bed, and unlucky for me, he proved to be a lover whose knowledge of a woman excelled the rest. It was his neverceasing willingness to listen to a woman’s complaints and the woes of her lonely heart, which he then followed by unlimited sympathy and consolation beneath the quilt. And thus he listened to all my unexpected losses, the betrayals that killed my spirit, my guilt over damage done to others, those moments of self-imposed loneliness. He heard my weakness for intimacy,
enough money to buy your way clean. You can buy admiration, buy appreciation, buy respect—all of it fake, of course. To them, flimsy cardboard facades were good enough. And I did my best to prove they weren’t. “I stopped studying when I was a kid and flunked my tests. If I knew the right answer, I wrote down the wrong one. My family accused the teachers of treating me unfairly and they bullied them into letting me take the tests again at home. They hired someone to fill in the answers. I became
and fresh dirt was poured over the blood. A short while later, the horses entered the track and the races began. I could hear the departing people angrily say that it was immoral to continue the races and shameful that anyone would enjoy them. I thought we would also be leaving. Who could stay, having just seen a man killed? I was shocked that my mother and Fairweather had remained in their seats. As the horses pounded the track, my mother and Fairweather cheered, and I stared at the moist dirt