Book Review: Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Valley of Amazement Cover


The Weird and Wonderful blog hosts a Book Review Day on the 20th day of each month. Since reading is an important part of writing, I try to review each book I read emphasizing points of craft. I am new at writing book reviews and I hate doing them, so let me know what you think and watch how I improve as I practice this task.  Follow the tag Book Review Day and you will get lots of good book suggestions.

Once you start this book, it is hard to stop!

Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Pulls you into a different experience of the world; yet tells a story that any son, daughter, mother, father will feel.

From the  first word, you find yourself in the rich, exotic world of Chinese courtesan houses in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Shanghai.  It follows the story of half-American, half-Chinese Violet Minturn from age seven into her forties as she lives and loves in Shanghai. It is a tremendous tale of three women; mother, daughter, and granddaughter; who live different lives but the bond between them is unbroken despite separations of distance and time. It taps  something I have come to realize the last few years, my mother lives in me.

For the Writers

Much craft can be gleaned from this book.  Ask yourself why Amy Tan chose to tell Lucia’s story so late in the book? It is an inspired piece of storytelling from a master. The book contains great examples of how sex scenes should written and can be a pivotal part of a story and not set decoration.

Amy Tan was a writer I did not gravitated toward. Her book, The Joy Luck Club, was never on my reading list until I read an exquisite article she wrote for National Geographic, Guizhou Village. I had to read The Joy Luck Club after that and she is now a permanent fixture on my Writers-to-Learn-From list. I recommend reading all her work. Feeling bad about your writing? You will find inspiration on her blog.

The Audiobook

The audio performances by Nancy Wu, Joyce Bean and Amy Tan bring the characters to life. However, this is not a good bedtime listen, it is too interesting and may keep you awake. Listen on the weekends, on your drive to work, or while doing the dishes . Once you start it, it is hard to stop.

I want my own Magic Gourd!

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