Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.

1 not finished as it expired so I will have to borrow it again. The Nightmare

The Valley of Amazement

The Story behind the Story
Amy Tan's inspiration for The Valley of Amazement originated at a visit to The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, where she stumbled upon an academic book with a BW photo of courtesans - "a class of women who were influential in introducing Western popular culture to Shanghai" (read between those words). The 1910 photo was captioned: "The Ten Beauties of Shanghai." She was stunned - these women were wearing clothing specific to the trade, identical to those in her favorite photo of her grandmother.
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She later found out that "no women other than courtesans" went to Western photo studios. My grandmother's photo had been taken in just such a place." Her grandmother was twenty-one in 1910. Tan's imaginings of what it would have been like for her grandmother had she been a courtesan in that time ( she was unable to determine the truth of it ) became the impetus for this novel.

This was a long and wordy book! I really enjoyed this peek inside a world I knew nothing of.
I have to admit I found the young Violet rather annoying. She is a spoiled brat and never really becomes someone I like.

The book is full of strong headed women and rather weak men.

The book spans four generations and the history is astounding.

To be an eavesdropper in a "house of ill-repute" was titillating as Tan does not spare any details. However, after a while it does get tiresome reading the same stuff over and over.

One courtesan rebukes a client: “You don’t need to pity us. We live quite well,” she says. “We have our freedom, unlike American women who cannot go anywhere without their husbands or old maid aunts.”

Trust me this is a long book and just when you think you are nearing the end there is a whole section devoted to her mother's story.
I did find that some story lines just filtered out. And others made me "shake my head" and want to say "really?what did you expect"? When a man says let's flee to my little home out in the country, days away from civilization...really?
For strong women they could really make stupid decisions.


River City

Next up is the third in this series, I recently read the other two. Tired as I was from Valley of Amazement I needed something totally different.
On the night of the "Rocket Richard Riot" in 1955, the legendary Cartier Dagger is stolen from its protective glass case in Montreal's imposing Sun Life Building. The dagger, which once belonged to the explorer Jacques Cartier, has been on loan to Clarence Campbell, the controversial president of the NHL. Many believe the dagger gives whoever possesses it mystical powers; as a result, its journey through history is as spectacular as it is bloodstained. On the night of its theft, a man is found murdered in a nearby park, with a dagger wound to his heart. Detective Armand Touton quickly recognizes the dead man as his friend and informer Roger Clement, a local hoodlum. But who murdered him, and why? 

Thirteen years later, Pierre Elliott Trudeau is prime minister and the separatist movement is gaining momentum in Quebec. The case is still unsolved. Touton asks Émile Cinq-Mars, a young constable, to continue the investigation, warning him to proceed with caution. Wanting to impress Touton, Cinq-Mars works quickly to wrap his mind around this puzzling case.

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