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Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Lisa See

Series: Shanghai Girls (1)

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4,1682962,166 (3.81)280
In the mid 1930's two well-educated sisters from Shanghai go to Los Angeles to become brides of the "Gold Mountain men" when their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. When the get their they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months. When one of the sisters becomes pregnant they vow that no one will ever know.… (more)
Title:Shanghai Girls: A Novel
Authors:Lisa See
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

  1. 20
    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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English (293)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (295)
Showing 1-5 of 293 (next | show all)
A beautifully-written book about two sisters who are chased from their beautiful life in 1930s Shanghai to the US by their father’s gambling debts and the Japanese invasion. The characters and setting are very well drawn, and the plot is both enlightening and heartbreaking. Immigration to this country has never been easy, especially for those who have to deal with racism on top of the trauma of leaving their homeland.

The ending doesn’t give me as much closure as I prefer, but I still found this a very, very good book. ( )
  RayLynneSH | Aug 13, 2021 |
Not nearly as good as the author's "Snowflower and the Secret Fan." Characters are not likeable. ( )
  elifra | Aug 6, 2021 |
Ahhhhh how good was that????? I love these kinds of stories where we follow a generation or two of families from their once-wonderful, now-awful lives, over to a new country (usually to the USA for some reason) where they struggle to make it. IDK…I just like seeing people overcome adversity I guess??? I’d like to read one where they migrate to another country that’s not the US to find a better life. If you’ve got some titles for me, please drop them in the comments below. And I’m so happy to learn there’s a sequel!!! ( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
There was so much history to learn from this book: the way that the Chinese lived with having money before Communism, effect of fighting with Japan, the way they were treated coming to the US through immigration, how Chinese were portrayed, how the Chinese felt about living. Unfortunately the story of the 2 sisters grew weary with Pearl being so down on life in the US and May being so self-serving to the glamour life. Gave a lot of credit to husband Sam putting up with his way of being treated. Daughter May was too good to be real until end of book showed her as a person. ( )
  kshydog | Dec 13, 2020 |
I often find "historical novels" not to my liking. It is difficult for an author to create a real sense of authenticity and I tend to see the missteps, the imposing of present-day values on past days, for example, or the use of speech that is not likely to represent how people really spoke in that time.

I am also tired of reading books about Chinese and Japanese families, where ancient superstition rules. Whether the narrator believes the Chinese horoscope or not, the "wisdom" is offered to the reader in the form of pithy, Confucious-type sayings. In this present case, the narrator, a women from Shanghai who begins her story in the 1930s, is a "modern" young woman. She scoffs at her mother's fears and pronouncements, especially at her projections of astrological character. However, when tragedy strikes and the two sisters are on their own, the elder, the narrator, Pearl, begins to assume her mother's mantle, in part. She recognizes her own character as a "Tiger", and her sister's as a "sheep".

While I continue to find these prejudices predictable and annoying (how "modern" I am!), I was nonetheless taken by this book. Not only does it introduce us to the Chinese culture of the time, including the use of "beautiful girls" - models who are painted for advertising purposes, but it feels emotionally real to me. The novel also exposes, in a personal way, the prejudices against Chinese immigrants in the U.S. While I was aware of the laws and practices that made any kind of success difficult for these immigrants, I did not know how it might feel, how one might make a way through such webs intact.

Somehow the author caught the time and place well, making it believable to me, and therefore I enjoyed the book and learned from it. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 293 (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...
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In the mid 1930's two well-educated sisters from Shanghai go to Los Angeles to become brides of the "Gold Mountain men" when their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. When the get their they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months. When one of the sisters becomes pregnant they vow that no one will ever know.

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