By Amy Tan
ECCO, $29.99, 589 pages
The story begins with Violet Minturn, a headstrong young Asian-American girl who lives with her mother in Shanghai, China. The year is 1905 and her mother is the owner of the Hidden Jade Path, one of the rapidly growing city’s premier courtesan houses. It is a time of political and social upheaval and as Violet reaches adolescence, she too becomes caught up in the turmoil. In the years that both precede and follow Violet’s youth, a family story of uncertainty, abandonment, deceit and lies emerges.
“’In a city with so many desperate women and so few opportunities, you will run across many coincidences.’”
Spanning three generations of women and taking place in both China and the Unites States, Tan’s first novel in eight years is a powerful reminder of the author’s skill as a storyteller. Returning to themes familiar to readers of her previous books – mother-daughter relationships, family secrets, and East-West influences and illusions – Tan comes up with a page-turning account of the lives, loves and complications of three women who find themselves navigating their way through interesting times.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen