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Rules for Virgins: Wherein Magic Gourd Advises Young Violet on How to Become a Popular Courtesan While Avoiding Cheapskates, False Love, and Suicide
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Rules for Virgins: Wherein Magic Gourd Advises Young Violet on How to Become a Popular Courtesan While Avoiding Cheapskates, False Love, and Suicide

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,697 Ratings  ·  219 Reviews
In her startlingly sensual story, Rules for Virgins, beloved bestselling author Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter’s Daughter) takes us deep into the illicit world of 1912 Shanghai, where beautiful courtesans mercilessly compete for the patronage of wealthy gentlemen. For the women, the contest is deadly serious, a perilous game of economic survival that, if played ...more
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Published July 24th 2012 by Brilliance Audio (first published December 3rd 2011)
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Kavita Ramesh
Feb 28, 2016 Kavita Ramesh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short novella is actually an excerpt from Tan's longer work "The Valley of Amazement". (The novella was interesting enough that I'm tempted to pick up its novel-sized version, mostly because Tan writes superbly.)

Having said that, it was also exceedingly depressing. You'd think it would be easier to just earn an honest wage, instead of the trickery and millions of ruses/rules required to make it as a courtesan, not to mention how demeaning all this must be to the woman's (Violet's) soul.

Dec 16, 2011 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Bonesetter’s Daughter and A Hundred Secret Senses, I can honestly say that I am a die-hard Amy Tan fan! So I was so excited when I saw that she had written Rules for Virgins, a short novella spoken in the voice of an aging courtesan who is providing advice and “on-the-job” training to a virgin courtesan in China on the proverbial “eve” of her deflowering.

Like Ms. Tan’s other stories, the main theme revolves around traditional female roles in
Dec 28, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In 1912 Shanghai, being a courtesan is more than a career, it's a chance at independence. A smart girl can leverage a few years of seduction into a lifetime of security. Fortunately for new girl Violet, she's got famous former courtesan Magic Gourd to guide her. It's not just about pleasing rich men, it's about making alliances and planning for the long term. Violet has the youth and beauty, and Magic Gourd has the experience and a strategic mind any general would envy.

This is a beautiful piec
Not really a STORY, which bothered me. I'm a big Amy Tan fan, but this didn't have any of the traits that I usually admire in her work. The writing was fine, but empty. There was no emotion, no character development, no... movement. It was essentially a bunch of research presented as a monologue. Interesting/informative? Sure. But I expect more from Amy Tan than just that.

HOWEVER. If you look at this story simply as setup for Valley of Amazement -- the characters, the setting, the frame of mind
Rebecca Huston
A lovely, bawdy, novella that is set as a series of lessons given to a young courtesan by her older companion of the perils and advantages of working as a courtesan to Shanghai's elite in the early 20th century. Some might be disturbed by the content, but most should enjoy this one. Tan's first fiction in more than six years; it's very good to see that she hasn't lost her touch.
Goodness, these are an awful lot of rules. I pity the poor girl who has to memorize them (and all of those songs!). The whole thing does seem rather daunting. That being said, this seems a little unusual given what I'm used to from Amy Tan. It's a bit more explicit than what I've come to expect from her.

But the best thing I can say about this is that it whet my appetite. I'm relieved to find out that it's an excerpt from a forthcoming novel because I'd quite like to learn about the wider narrat
When i first started reading this i was doubtful i'd like it. but i changed my mind fast. it was fun, interesting, and...odd? i'm not sure how to describe it. i learned a new word i should be ashamed to type here so i'll just say it kind of sounds like pendulum but doesn't mean anything like pendulum. if you want to know what i'm talking about, you'll just have to read this. haha.

also, i think i saw somewhere that this story is either part of or the foundation or something of a novel. i hope tha
A. Gulden
Aug 20, 2013 A. Gulden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will accompany you on the zither until your warbled notes don’t sound like two cats screeching over the same dead mouse.

Mosquito press

You are too young to know yet what nostalgia truly means. It takes time to become sentimental. But for the sake of your success, you must quickly learn. When you touch a man’s nostalgia, he is yours.

They make men think all flowers are pickpockets of the heart. You won’t find any courtesans like that in this house, so don’t you become one.

Here, we don’t go back a
Angel D.
Apr 11, 2016 Angel D. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, reviewed
This is an eye-opening novella about the literal rules for virgins in 1912 Shanghai. I didn't know what to expect when I first bought this ebook well over a year ago, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

I would definitely not recommend this novella for all ages, but maybe rated R audiences. It has moments of an extremely detailed sexual nature, and although I am an adult myself, I was a bit taken aback by how brazen and descriptive this was.

As novellas go, this was a relatively quick read that I
Dec 13, 2011 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amy-tan, nook-st

“…you must know all the arts of enticement and master the balance of anticipation and reticence.”—page 5

Reading a bit like a big bag of fortune cookies, the message of Amy Tan’s latest, Byliner Publication (Great writers. Great stories. Readable in a single sitting.), ‘Rules for Virgins,’ seems to be that performance art will always be improved by good management, good training, and attention to detail. There is, however, a subtle, lyrical and gentle,
Yuuuuuck. Did Amy Tan just wake up one morning and decide she wanted to write this? Did she get bored? It's basically instructions to a new courtesan. Like reading Memoirs of a Geisha, but set in China and possibly more explicit. Meh. I probably would have given up on it but I think I paid 2 or 3 bucks for this story.

***edited to add***

Ok, this makes more sense now that I know it's an excerpt from a forthcoming novel. It still seems like an odd bit to just yank out as a short story (pretty expli
Julie Ehlers
May 27, 2015 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This was interesting in more than one way. I need to read Valley of Amazement, stat.
Blake Charlton
a monolog delivered from an older shanghai courtesan to a younger one. no so much a narrative as the outline of one, rich with research of the culture and history of the early 1900s. again, there is no plot, but one senses the great, seductive novel that shines behind this monologue (and perhaps may one day see light?) however, in it's present incarnation, 'rules,' boiled down to its essence, is well-written, soft-core, historical porn.

meaning, that yes, if your still reading this review, you w
Mar 23, 2015 Onka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, audiobooks
I have to admit that this one was quite surprising! I know the title says “Rules for Virgins” but I definitely didn’t expect it to be this list of rules. However, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it! I love Amy Tan’s writing and I love to learn more about foreign cultures and traditions (especially Eastern) and this was, well, educational! And also quite graphic so I would not recommend it to younger readers.
Mar 12, 2012 Janyne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorts
Rules for Virgins is a vignette written from the point of view of an assistant giving advice to the 17-year-old Violet about her newly acquired role of courtesan in Shanghai circa 1912. I gave it four stars because it is tightly written. Once again, Amy Tan shows us that she is a great wordsmith.
Jan 28, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Memoirs of Geisha lovers
I'm confused about how I feel about this one. If it is part of a larger work, than some aspects of it make sense. Why it is extremely funny in places, at times I found myself saying, "get on with it".

Yet, there are a great many rules. Many was that alot of work.
Mar 04, 2014 Carla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few things can compare to Tan's writing ability. This book, or should I saw a novella, is only 40 or so pages long. It is more a rule book for virgins It is a list of "rules" that courtesans followed in Shaghai, told in a very entertaining and witty manner. There is no back story, no character development. The excerpt uses stream of consciousness as an older courtesan gives a wealth of advice to an up-and-coming courtesan who is about to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. I really hope it ...more
Susan Jones
Feb 15, 2016 Susan Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world of sexual intrigue that Tan reveals in "Rules for Virgins" actually existed once, and she spares no detail in recreating it. But this story is more than intriguing (and sometimes shocking) historical literary fiction. Besides inviting us inside a life that few writers but Tan could conjure up, the intimate confessions of Magic Gourd add up to a kind of military manual for the War of the Sexes 19 female combatants. The wisdom conveyed is ancient, specific, and timeless, exposing the wor ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-freebies
Full disclosure: Not really a book, more of a vignette extracted and adapted from Amy Tan's book "The Valley of Amazement".

It's written in the style of a long monologue or lecture from an experience courtesan while mentoring a virgin courtesan. Just as Machiavelli made a list of rules for a Medici prince, this work lays down the law of being a Shanghai courtesan and how a virgin can make the most of her naivety; which songs to learn and why, how to speak inside the jewellery shop with a patron,
Syl. A.k.a Topo di biblioteca
I love Amy Tan books and this one is an exception. Started with it bravely, discounting the title, and halfway through realised that titles do matter. The whole book is an advice to an aspiring concubine regarding the rules to survive and excel in her trade. It is not sensationally vulgar, but offended my proprietary senses by considering women as second class citizens. I know it was the norm in olden days, especially in Asia, still I felt outraged and gave up on the book as a form of silent pro ...more
May 07, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amy Tan's first byliner. I wasn't sure that I liked it at first because it reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha too much; however, it was nothing like it, the more I read. It is written from the perspective of a very young virgin, courtesan in training's mentor who is providing her with the rules for success and is thought provoking. You never hear anything from the girl, thus, do not get to read about her thoughts about her future or how she even ended up in this place. The narrator presents as a ...more
Jan 07, 2012 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really looked forward to reading this short little story because of 1.) it's written by Amy Tan and 2.) it offered an interesting story line.

And the short didn't disappoint. Amy Tan did another fabulous job of weaving her characters and the story with the mysterious Eastern culture.

However, I was a little taken aback with the profanities in her story. It only happened a few times but the profanities included into the dialogue seemed to bring me back to reality rather than immerse me further
Jan 02, 2013 Judie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rules for Virgins is a short work from author Amy Tan which is basically a manual of sorts for a virgin courtesan, Violet, preparing for the night of her "defloration". It was set in Shanghai yet it reminded me a lot of Memoirs of a Geisha. So many rules, etiquette, and strategies to follow, not only for the night, but for her viability in the days to come. They're part of a house that sells sex and they view it as a legitimate business with systematic processes and procedures in order for you t ...more
Erin (PT)
I'm reading an anthology of short stories at the same time that I read this and, in one sense, Tan's short story illustrates exactly what I'm not enjoying about the other book; that is, it's a lucid and linear story that creates its setting and characters in a straightforward way that invites me in immediately and allows me to immerse in the story from the outset.

One of the things I like most about Tan's work is that she writes about worlds that I'm not functionally familiar with, but writes ab
Bernie Gourley
This Kindle Single is written in the form of advice by a Madam to the newest member of her brothel. It's historical fiction, and is set ambiguously in the past. It is presumably set in China, but I don't recall that that is ever explicitly determined.

The Madam shows a mix of maternal protectiveness for the girl and straightforward, harsh candor. She tells the young girl how to game the men, and how to get the most out of them. She instructs the girl in how to defend her virginity until such tim
Heidi Mann
This is a short work (a "Kindle Single"). I had not read anything by Amy Tan previously, but this sounded so intriguing that I figured I'd shell out the $1.99.

Written in the voice of an "attendant" talking to a "virgin courtesan" in 1912 Shanghai, teaching her the many aspects of what to expect as she prepares to begin her "career," the wording runs the spectrum from euphemistic ("defloration") to raw (a few times, she uses the word "fuck" as casually as one might say, in open conversation, "sl
I'm not sure how I fell about this book, actually I think it's more the approach of the subject, of how by presenting the seduction and the sexual act as work, as a way to earn a living, as a choregraphy learnt perfectly it dehumanises the story for me. Don't get me wrong, I can certainly understand that for some people, or characters, sex is work, that's not what is bothering me. It's a long monologue, an experienced older woman educating a virgin in the ways of her budding "career". What bothe ...more
Sep 15, 2012 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I couldn't purchase the Kindle version of this book due to living in Australia, I was actually upset of this fact and had to shell out $12AU for an audio book that lasted a little over 2 hours. I'm not against audio books but I wanted to read this as a book/short story and not listen to it.

The opening was interesting because Amy Tan herself does a small intro and tells you about some of her family history and you then learn why this short story/teaser/excerpt was imagined. I found that to be mo
Sal Noel
Feb 16, 2014 Sal Noel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A free sample- And again, here was I thinking my generation invented that sex malarkey and after reading this I wonder how we managed- going in all ignorant and hoping for the best... Well, I was introduced to Amy Tan many many years ago and have enjoyed her novels. In fact, I went to her reading in Bradford before the showing of The Joy Luck Club in the Cubby Broccoli theatre. The book from which this chapter is taken is a tad too expensive but I will be hoping to read it in full quite soon.
Feb 06, 2014 Ghilimei rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maybe, e-books
Mi-a plăcut mult, dar mi s-a părut că s-a terminat brusc, exact în mijloc, că ar fi fost loc de mai mult și mi-ar fi plăcut să fie mai mult.


Am citit mai mult pe subiectul ăsta și am aflat că de fapt Rules for Virgins este capitolul IV din The Valley of Amazement, cea mai recentă carte de Amy Tan, publicată în octombrie 2013. Acum e clar că trebuie s-o citesc! :)
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Amy Tan (Chinese: 譚恩美; pinyin: Tán Ēnměi; born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and what it means to grow up as a first generation Asian American. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her most popular fiction work, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film.

She has written several other books, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hun
More about Amy Tan...

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“When you touch a man's nostalgia, he is yours.” 7 likes
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