Book of the Week: Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Amy Tan, the author of the celebrated Joy Luck Club, has jokingly referred to her new novel, Valley of Amazement, as “fifty shades of Tan.” Her first book to contain sex scenes, it explores the fascinating world of the Chinese courtesans in the early 1900s. Spanning more than 40 years and two continents, the book transports readers to the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of the courtesan houses and life of the foreigners living in the city’s International Settlement — both of which were erased by World War II. Even given this sweeping narrative, at its heart, this is the story of the profound bonds between a mother and a daughter, a subject at which Tan excels and which her readers have come to cherish.