Her writing has definitely been missed and Amy Tan offers her loyal readers just a taste of what they have to look forward to when she returns to the literary scene with The Valley of Amazement. With her short, at just 43 pages, e-book only release of Rules for Virgins, she reminds us all of why her story telling is timeless.
Written in almost lecture format, Rules is a conversation that Magic Gourd, a former Shanghai beauty, has with Violet, her protege. Tasked with preparing Violet for her debut as a courtesan, with the desire to eventually be named one of Shanghai's "Top Ten Beauties," Magic Gourd covers topics such as "Patrons & Cheapskates," "Reputation," "Fashion" and "Preparing the Boudoir."
As she relives her glory days, you can almost hear the delight in Magic Gourd's words as she details how Violet will be dressed, stories she will learn to entertain her suitors and such. After all, in the words of Magic Gourd:
As a courtesan, you must work toward the Four Necessities; jewelry, furniture, a seasonal contract with a stipend, and a comfortable retirement. Forget about love. You will receive that many times, but none of it is lasting. You can't eat it, even if it leads to marriage.
At times reminiscent of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of A Geisha, Rules is set in 1912 Shanghai, whereas Memoirs was set in 1929 Kyoto. Different times and different places, but similar end goals for the main characters in each. If you enjoyed Memoirs, or are a fan of any of Amy Tan's previous work, you'll be sure to enjoy Rules.
What did you like about this book?
Though I initially didn't care for the lecture-like tone the narrator took, I soon found that I enjoyed it. I could almost hear the excitement in Magic Gourd's voice as she planned their future together.
What didn't you like about this book?
At just 43 pages, it was extremely short. The other drawback is that it's only available in eformat, so readers that only use traditional means for reading will miss out on it.
What could the author do to improve this book?
I'd love to see a full length novel based on this short.
Format: Kindle & Nook only
Published: December 2011
Theme: Erotic City by Prince and the Revolution