Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rules for Virgins” as Want to Read:
Rules for Virgins
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rules for Virgins

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  3,172 ratings  ·  233 reviews
In her startlingly sensual new story, “Rules for Virgins”—this 43-page jewel of a tale is the first fiction she has published in six years—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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 43 pages
Published December 5th 2011 by Byliner, Inc. (first published December 3rd 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rules for Virgins, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rules for Virgins

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,172 ratings  ·  233 reviews

Sort order
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Rebecca Huston
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
A. Gulden
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 (LiaBooks)
Jun 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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
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
Dec 13, 2011 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,
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
Blake Charlton
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, english, own
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 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jeffrey Matthews
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was very interesting. It had many aspects of Dictionary of Mutual Understanding (had to have help remembering the exact title). I liked this book.
Julie Ehlers
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This was interesting in more than one way. I need to read Valley of Amazement, stat.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quick & unedited review (hope it makes sense!) ... I love historical fiction & this novella explores a niche I’ve not yet read about in this kind of detail. Tan handles the explicit sexual content with some humor and it’s the briefness is the format feels fitting - almost like the virgin sneaking a peek but not looking for too long. It’s fascinating to reflect on this lifestyle having been a social status quo compared to the society’s current view of sex & morality. In the current wo ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
This wasn't a story. It was just a monologue. Yes, it's informative about it's topic, but there's no character development, no climax, no description. It's just one woman talking the entire time. I guess it's possible I didn't get anything out of it because it just wasn't particularly interesting to me.

I gave it two stars because the author did elicit a little sympathy from me, though I'm not even sure that was her purpose. I felt sad to be reading about a girl who was only 14 and she's being t
Nick Rogers
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the flowing narrative, gentle in description yet full blooded in content and meaning. The advice given to Violet could work in other walks of life. You don't know at what point the advice will end or which direction it's going, which adds to its mystery. I'm not familiar to the Far-eastern courtesan genre. I can see why the culture and customs are so interesting to readers in the West, as well as other different cultures.

I would have given it 5 stars, but it gets a little repeti
Cris Anne Imperial
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short and sweet, full of lovely and tragic truths and tips. Rules for Virgins is something that you can easily read and something that is narrated in a not-so-heavy tone but is in fact, very tragic. This is pain romanticized and printed. A woman's defloration told in powerful and flowery words that seemingly hides the true pain in the act. The only reason why I didn't give five stars is that there didn't seem to be a story. I was expecting that there will be a plot, along with the tips entwined ...more
Jeannie Mills
Jan 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
It was grossly graphic and a waste of time. I have enjoyed most of Amy Tan’s books, so I expected to like this one. It’s a good thing that I had the audio and that I had no other audio for my car (and that I was alone in my car!)Thankfully, it was a novella and only two discs. What a disappointment!
Jacqui Hencsie
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Novella by the author of the Joy Luck club, would be interested in reading the novel this is supposed to lead to
May 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's the first book by Amy Tan that I have attempted.
Loved the writing - but the subject just didn't work for me.

I should have researched a bit more before taking the plunge with this one.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Similar to Memoirs of a Geisha except shorter and more like a manual. I suspect consorts are the Chinese version of Geisha
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Audible. It is part of a longer book
Soo Yen
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
1% in and I realised this 43 page book is an excerpt from The Valley of Amazement. A quick entertaining read.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-readathon
As always, Amy Tan's pieces are incredibly well written. Her voice is strong and imbued in every word.
Eletta0925 Fouche
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This short story was interesting. It seems to be a prelude to Valley of Amazement.

Nice short read. Can be read in two hours.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an excerpt from Valley of Amazement and gives a glimpse into the mysterious world of Shanghai courtesans at the turn of the 19th/20th century. It takes place in the High Class House of Vermillion. Violet has literally been 'Shanghaid' into the profession and is receiving instruction on how to conduct herself by her now attendant a former top 10 Shanghai beauty (no.6) she was previously Magic Cloud, now she is over 30 she is Magic Gourd and now an attendant. Instructing Violet in the mann ...more
Heidi Mann
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Erin (PT)
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Diversity in All ...: Rules for Virgins (November 2018) 8 34 Nov 10, 2018 04:57AM  
  • Blood on the Tracks
  • Katherine
  • The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro
  • Daughter of the Bamboo Forest
  • Under Fishbone Clouds
  • Timbuctoo
  • A Cup of Light
  • February Flowers
  • The Red Chamber
  • The Secrets of Jin-shei (Jin-Shei, #1)
  • Night of Many Dreams
  • Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha Who Bewitched the West
  • Jade Palace Vendetta (Matsuyama Kaze, #2)
  • Greek Myths
  • The Syrian Rebellion
  • Beirut, I Love You: A Memoir
  • BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever. A Long, Strange Journey Along the Keystone XL Pipeline (Kindle Single)
  • Daughter Of China
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
“When you touch a man's nostalgia, he is yours.” 7 likes
More quotes…