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Shanghai Girls

Page history last edited by epancoe@... 13 years, 2 months ago

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

9781400067114  $25.00

Random House

May 2009


Plot:  Pearl and May are "beautiful girls"--minor celebrities whose images are painted for the calendars which are hung in even the humblest homes in 1930's Shanghai.  Although they consider themselves to be modern women, they accept the marriages to strangers from Los Angeles that their father arranges for them, assuring the sisters that they can remain in Shanghai and do not need to live with their husbands in the U.S.  After their father loses everything gambling and the Japanese invade China, the sisters' lives are changed forever, and after tragedy strikes, they attempt to join their husbands in California.  And this is only the beginning.


General Thoughts:  This is a fast-paced book, which I enjoyed much more than the popular "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," one of the author's previous novels.  Perhaps it was the more modern time period (although I enjoy historical fiction) or the faster pace.


3 words/phrases that describe this book:  Plot-driven, historical, multicultural details.


This Book is Similar to:  Amy Tan's novels, although without the depth.


Would I Recommend/To Whom:  Yes, I would recommend this to women, but not men.  The emphasis on the relationship between the sisters should appeal to those interested in character.  I would recommend it to those who like plot, and also those who are interested in different cultures.  Readers who don't like historical fiction would probably not object to this novel since the time period is fairly recent.


Would This Be Good for a Book Discussion:  Not for the group at our library.  But I think there is much to discuss here in terms of character and motive for a book group of women.

Comments (2)

kkleckner@... said

at 10:50 am on Apr 24, 2009

I've been wondering if this new book would live up to the Snow Flower hype. Thanks for your 2 cents!

nmccully@stdl.org said

at 10:39 am on May 14, 2009

I enjoyed Shanghai Girls and agree that this is a book that would appeal to women rather than men. The relationship between the sisters and their extended Chinese family was interesting but the historical fiction aspects of the novel appealed to me most. I was fascinated by the story of the sisters' immigration to the US from China since most immigration stories I have read focused on European families entering the US through Ellis Island. Details of life in Shanghai in the 30's and the Japanese invasion of China were also of interest. I would recommend this to readers who like historical fiction set in a time and place that is a bit out of the ordinary.

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