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China Dolls by Lisa See
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China Dolls (2014)

by Lisa See

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4034826,478 (3.56)36
  1. 10
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (kqueue)
    kqueue: Both books deal with Asian-Americans at the onset of World War II and the injustices they suffered along with the tensions between Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans.
  2. 00
    Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although set in the late 1920's in China, Women of Silk pairs well China Dolls because both are literary and character-driven historical novels focusing on Chinese culture. The strength of friendship during difficult situations is key, and rich historical detail permeates both stories.… (more)
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I almost stopped reading this book, but I decided to see it to the end and see what was up with Helen. In retrospect, I don't regret finishing it, but I probably should have just stopped reading. The book was fine, but the author did too much over-explaining. For example, at one point Ruby---narrating in the first person---says she ate natto and then defined "natto." This sort of thing happened frequently enough that it ruined the flow and kind of made me wonder if the author thought I was stupid (or didn't know how to use an internet search).

I also didn't find the three women's voices distinct enough for the shifting narrators to work for me. Each was supposed to be hiding things from herself and her friends, but when narrating in the first person, they were all surprisingly introspective and self-aware. It just struck me as false. It might have worked better had it been a third-person narrator with a shifting perspective so we could have seen each woman's actions from the outside.

Also, I'm not sure I buy the large Finnish population in Plain City, Ohio. I'd never heard of a large Finnish population in Ohio at all, so checked it out on Ohio History Connection. According to that site, there were relatively few Finnish Ohioans in the early 20th century, and Union County wasn't one of the places with a significant population of Finns. I looked at a few other sites, and it seems See would have done better to put her Finnish town closer to Cleveland. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jul 29, 2015 |
The lives of three women in the culture of Oriental nightclubs intertwine through the years before and after WWII
  ritaer | Apr 14, 2015 |
Zipping through my latest haul from the library, I found this gem. The story is centered on three Asian-American young women in pre-World War II San Fransisco. They all have different stories - Helen is the daughter in a wealthy Chinatown family, Grace has fled to SF to escape an abusive father, and Ruby is hiding her background. They bond and make it dancing in the pre-war Chinese nightclub Forbidden City. The story follows them until shortly after the end of World War II. The nightclub life and performing life were entertaining, but what makes the story is the will of these women. The story takes us through racism, poverty, friendship, deceit and love in a renewing journey. Recommended. ( )
  wareagle78 | Jan 16, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As usual, Lisa See does a great job describing the time period, and Oriental people were treated. I learned more about their interactions, both amongst themselves and with non-Oriental folks. My gripe, is that for me personally, it felt like it dragged a bit. I would keep trying to finish it, get a little farther, and forget about it.

It just wasn't as gripping as her previous titles. ( )
  songbirdz | Dec 7, 2014 |
great premise, disappointing execution ( )
  revliz | Nov 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Only three things cannot be long hidden:  the sun, the moon, and the truth.  (Attributed to Buddha)
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For Henry Theodore Kendall
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I traveled west--alone--on the cheapest bus routes I could find.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 081299289X, Hardcover)

The New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony In Love, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy returns with her highly anticipated new novel. A bold and bittersweet story of secrets and sacrifice, love and betrayal, prejudice and passion, China Dolls reveals a rich portrait of female friendship, as three young women navigate the “Chop Suey Circuit”—America’s extravagant all-Asian revues of the 1930s and ’40s—and endure the attack on Pearl Harbor and the shadow of World War II.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:31 -0400)

"In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?"--… (more)

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