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Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
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Recently added byarena90, lunule, jarabendi, UICS, private library, etbm2003, rena70
  1. 10
    Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (terran)
    terran: Chinese Americans, Mother and daughters, Family, Poverty, Immigrants
  2. 03
    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (tahcastle)
    tahcastle: Both novels illustrated the discrimination in the United States, of Japanese during the war and of the Chinese after the war.
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Well written, easily read historical novel that follows Pearl and May from 1937 Shanghai from Japanese invasion through their immigration to the US and their lives in Los Angeles. Fascinating story of Chinese customs and the difficulties facing immigrant Chinese in the US ( )
  pennykaplan | May 25, 2014 |
Pearl and May are sisters who call 1930's Shanghai home. They are "beautiful girls" (women whose images are painted and used in advertising) and lead a carefree life. Until they lose everything and are sold into marriage by their father. After a tortuous journey (escaping the Japanese who attack China) they arrive in America and start their new lives with their husbands and new family. The story provides a lot of interesting detail about the lives of Chinese in the United States at this time - I never realised how heavily they were discriminated against. It is also a story of family and loyalty and of the battle to keep traditions alive while integrating into a new world. ( )
  PennyAnne | Apr 19, 2014 |
As two beautiful modern Chinese women in 1930s Shanghai, Pearl and May live a life of luxury. They “work” as models, posing for painters who use their smiling faces to sell soaps and other household goods on posters that paper the city. But their carefree, happy lives come crashing to an end when their father announces that in order to erase a large gambling debt, the two girls must marry two young men from Los Angeles. The girls initially resist, but as war breaks out in Shanghai they have little choice but to flee to the countryside and from there, cross the Pacific and reunite with their betrothed. Life in America is harder than Pearl and May ever expected; the wealth their father-in-law flaunted in China was only an illusion. Although each sister struggles to conceal secrets that could destroy her fragile life in Los Angeles, they discover small joys hidden amongst the many tragedies.

This is a great story. It really has everything in it – drama, gentle moments of humor, wonderful characters and a nearly unbreakable bond between two fascinating, strong-hearted women. I admire Pearl’s steadfast nature and her slow-burning courage, and May’s quick wit and adaptability. The two of them together are such perfect opposites that when united, they really seem unstoppable.

Of course, would they be as close if such traumatic events had not driven them together? I wonder. I’d like to think so. They were already like peas in a pod at the beginning of the book, and though their many misfortunes at times drive a wedge between them, the sisters always come together again.

Neither sister is perfect, of course. The story is told through Pearl’s eyes, and though she loves her sister deeply she finds her to be silly, coquettish, and lazy. As the years pass, and May remains pretty and fresh with a far more glamorous career, Pearl often fights jealousy. Pearl is well aware of some of her own faults, especially her stubbornness, but she doesn’t always realize the consequences of her actions until too late. For example, it becomes clear early on to the reader that her husband truly cares for Pearl, and if she could look past her emotional walls they might have a happy marriage, despite their many troubles. But for most of the novel, she refuses to be a wife of the heart with her husband, and it’s quite frustrating and sad.

Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy could be one continuous novel – one starts at the same moment the other ends. I would strongly recommend getting both books at the same time. Shanghai Girls ends abruptly, and I know that if I hadn’t already read the sequel I would have been driven mad waiting for it. ( )
  makaiju | Mar 8, 2014 |
This book was my "mystery date" for book club; I did not choose to read it.... but I am glad I did. Very well-researched historical novel about the life of two sisters who are born in China, but end up living their adult lives in the U.S... and all the struggles of life, war, immigration, parenthood, and more. Nice storytelling and a very enjoyable novel. ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Feb 27, 2014 |
my book club had a lot to discuss. good read! ( )
  amanaceerdh | Feb 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls” is much loftier than its cover art’s stunning portrait of beautifully adorned Asian women. The author of “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” has written a broadly sweeping tale...
 
Things are getting catty again in the Shanghai literary scene!
 
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For my cousin Leslee Leong, my cohort in memory keeping.
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'Our daughter looks like a South China peasant with those red cheeks,' my father complains, pointedly ignoring the soup before him. 'Can't you do something about them?'
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812980530, Paperback)

Book Description For readers of the phenomenal bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love--a stunning new novel from Lisa See about two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles.

May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)--where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months--they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

Amazon Exclusive: Lisa See on Shanghai Girls I’m writing this on a plane to Shanghai. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to see and do on this research trip: look deeper into the Art Deco movement in Shanghai, visit a 17th-century house in a village of 300 people to observe the Sweeping the Graves Festival, and check out some old theaters in Beijing. But as I sit on the plane, I’m not thinking of the adventures that are ahead but of the people and places I’ve left behind. I’ve been gone from home only a few hours and already I’m homesick!

This puts me in mind of Pearl and May, the characters in Shanghai Girls. This feeling--longing for home and missing the people left behind--is at the heart of the novel. We live in a nation of immigrants. We all have someone in our families who was brave enough, scared enough, or crazy enough to leave the home country to come to America. I’m a real mutt in terms of ancestry, but I know that the Chinese side of my family left China because they were fleeing war, famine, and poverty. They were lured to America in hopes of a better life, but leaving China also meant saying goodbye to the homes they’d been born in, to their parents, brothers, and sisters, and to everything and everyone they knew. This experience is the blood and tears of American experience.

Pearl and May are lucky, because they come to America together. They’re sisters and they have each other. I’ve always wanted to write about sisters and I finally got my chance with Shanghai Girls. You could say that either I’m an only child or that I’m one of four sisters, because I have a former step-sister I’ve known for over 50 years and two half-sisters from different halves who I’ve known since they were born. Is Shanghai Girls autobiographical? Not really, but my sister Katharine and I once had a fight that was like the flour fight that May and Pearl got into when they were girls. And there was an ice cream incident that I used in the novel that sent my sister Clara right down memory lane when she read the manuscript. I’m also the eldest, and we all know what that means. I’m the one who’s supposed to be the bossy know-it-all. (But if that’s true, then why are they the ones who are always right?) What I know is that we’re very different from each other and our life experiences couldn’t be more varied, and yet we have a deep emotional connection that goes way beyond friendship. My sisters knew me when I was a shy little kid, helped me survive my first broken heart, share the memories of bad family car trips, and were at my side for the happiest moments in my life. More recently, we’ve begun to share things like the loss of our childhood homes, the changing of the neighborhoods we grew up in, and the frailties and illnesses of our myriad parents.

My emotions and experiences are deeply entwined with the stories I write. So as I fly over the Pacific, of course I’m thinking about May and Pearl, the people and places they left behind, the hopes and dreams that kept them moving forward, and the strength and solace they found in each other, but I’m thinking about myself too. As soon as I get to the hotel, I’m going to call my husband and sons to tell them I arrived safely, and then I’m going to send some e-mails to my sisters.--Lisa See

(Photo © Patricia Williams)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Forced to leave Shanghai when their father sells them to California suitors, sisters May and Pearl struggle to adapt to life in 1930s Los Angeles while still bound to old customs, as they face discrimination and confront a life-altering secret.

» see all 10 descriptions

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