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China Dolls: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2014
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“This is one of those stories I’ve always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo! Here’s a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs.”—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
“A fascinating portrait of life as a Chinese-American woman in the 1930s and ’40s.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A sweeping, turbulent tale of passion, friendship, good fortune, bad fortune, perfidy and the hope of reconciliation.”—Los Angeles Times
“Lisa See masterfully creates unforgettable characters that linger in your memory long after you close the pages.”—Bookreporter
“Stellar . . . The depth of See’s characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“China Dolls plunges us into a fascinating history and offers an accessible meditation on themes that are still urgent in our contemporary world. The women’s story explores burning questions about the possibilities of friendship, the profound effects of betrayal, the horrors of prejudice and the nature of ambition—especially female ambition. . . . These Asian artists were true pioneers, breaking ground, chasing vast dreams, subverting stereotypes simply by appearing onstage against the odds. Here, in China Dolls, they have found another stage of sorts, another place to rightfully shine.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“China Dolls is [Lisa See’s] most penetrating since Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.”—The Seattle Times
“A spellbinding portrait of a time burning with opportunity and mystery.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“[An] impeccably researched and distinctive historical saga of desire and ambition, betrayal and revenge . . . See again lavishly explores the thorny intricacies of female friendships.”—Booklist
“Fresh and lively . . . powerful passages . . . a compelling story.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
“China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another’s lives even as the world serves up painful transformation. Lisa See gets so much just right here. You’ll want to dive right in.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
“Colorful and fascinating historical touches tie the story together perfectly and form an exquisite backdrop.”—Library Journal
Top Customer Reviews
Helen, a Chinese born girl, has moved with her family to San Francisco's "Chinatown", living in a giant compound with her parents and 7 brothers along with their wives and children. Ruby comes from Japan to Chinatown passing for Chinese in a time that most of the United States and China hate Japanese. Grace, deeply scarred emotionally and physically by a violent father, escapes from Plain City, Ohio to find her dreams as a dancer in Chinatown. All meet by coincidences and become fast friends. All want to be entertainers and the story of their attempts line this well written novel with intrigue. The trio hold secrets within them that lead to some disastrous consequences and strain within their close knit bonds.
The writing flows with conversations that make the reader feel as if they are right inside the pages following the trio as they tour the country with their singing, dancing and fan production.(Sally Rand style) The facts that are revealed educated me to the prejudices of the times.(1930's thru 1940's) and how hard it was to be of any nationality besides "white."
Great effort and well worth the read!!
The story largely takes place in the Chinatown dance club circuit amidst the growing storm in Asia that eventually comes to our shores at Pearl Harbor. It follows the show biz lives of three dancers Helen, Grace, and Ruby. As a historical novel, the names and events drive some of the plot, but are in essence little more than backdrops for the melodrama. While the book addresses complex issues such as race, xenophobia, child abuse, the horrors of war, and sexual orientation, they are never really explored on a deep level. I was disappointed that the author gives these complex issues a superficiality that renders them mere accoutrements to vainly flush out the thin characters.
In the absence of long-winded expository passages, China Dolls reads quick enough and there was enough of a plot, even if generic, to keep me going up to the predictable ending. Just the same, when the end did come, I was glad to be done. Not a ringing endorsement for a book. Due to her enormous popularity, I find it hard to fathom that this novel is typical of the author, but there are too many other books to read to waste time verifying.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written, interesting story. Gives you a view of life in the 30's and 40's for those of Asian descent.Published 8 hours ago by Math AD
This book seems to be written for pre-adolescent readers, a waste of my reading time. Persevered to finish it only out of loyalty to my book club. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Rita Tschiffely
I enjoyed the book but didn't find it quite as engaging as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or Shanghai Girls.Published 6 days ago by CG
Was just OK. Story was great - good research - character developement was weak,Published 8 days ago by chris
I don't know why but the from cover was a little short.. But is ok I still can use the book for my class lol..Published 8 days ago by ralph
I thoroughly enjoyed China Dolls, I had a hard time putting it done and I am sad the story is over. I have read several of Lisa See 's books and have not been disappointed. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Sarah Blackwood
China Dolls was a helpful read about what was happening in the entertainment scene just before World WAR II and during. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Anna Joyce Nelson