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Showing 1-10 of 562 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 964 reviews
on July 10, 2016
If you like historical fiction, you'll love this. I don't know much about the Chinese experience in the United States, and it tells a lot. Provocative. It made me think about my family relationships. This one is primarily about 2 sisters, but it could be about any family relationship. It also made me think about prejudice. I could really empathize with the characters in the book.
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on May 27, 2015
The violence is sexual in nature but very pertinent to the story and historically fitting. I love Lisa's books. The heroins are strong-willed, intelligent, and contemporary for their times, while still respecting, if not adhering to, their familial expectations and traditions. Her histories are accurate, personal, and vivid and her descriptions make you feel present in the moment. I have thoroughly enjoyed them all but I think that this one was my favorite, followed closely by Snow Flower and the Secret Fan; which was so well written that the narrative of the foot binding rituals made me ache until I cried and I could smell the women's sitting room and it made me almost wretch. (I also like/respect that the missionaries that were depicted weren't shown as being tyrannical or over-bearing with ill will/ bad intentions.) I recommend her books to everyone.
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on February 17, 2013
This book followed by Dreams of Joy is a 5 star read. It ends abruptly with much left to tell and tell it Lisa See does in Dreams of Joy. Shanghai Girls is the tale of May and Pearl, two calendar models or "beautiful girls" as they were called. May is the more beautiful of the two but both are in demand. Their father loses everything just prior to Japan's invasion of China. He sells his daughters in marriage to two stateside Chinese or so they believe. The girls try to avoid their forced marriage. However, Japan invades Shanghai and their only means of escape is through these marriages. Their escape is horrific and includes the tragedies that were so common in occupied Shanghai. They believe they will be going to an affluent and easy life in the U.S. However, their living conditions are not as expected. Both must work very hard everyday. May was pregnant when they left China. In order to conceal this fact and to protect themselves and the child, Pearl pretends to be the child's mother. Pearl's marriage is consummated while May's is not. The child whom they name Joy is born in the immigration holding area, and Pearl delivers the child in the communal bathroom. Once allowed to enter the U.S. as wives of Chinese Americans they both live in the same household. May pretends to be the child's aunt and Pearl is truly Joy's mother. May married to the only biological son of the family scion, Vernon, develops a career as a bit player in films. She is also a casting agent for people of Chinese origin and she supplies props and costumes. She never gets the speaking roles she really wants. Vernon is both mentally and physically disabled and May's marriage is never consummated. The Scion's only hope for a grandson is through Pearl. However, because of the injuries she sustained during the escape, Pearl is never able to conceive and bring a baby to term. The only child she has dies shortly after birth. This book ends with only half the story told. The reader will also have to read Dreams of Joy to finish the story. Otherwise as one reviewer states the ending is unsatisfying. I agree. My 5 star rating is given only under the assumption that the purchaser will also read the sequel.
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on August 10, 2016
It was a wonderful, well written story that was very informative of life for Chinese in China and as immigrants to America. You could clearly see that Lisa See did a lot of research in writing this story to present the reader with facts of that time period from the 1930's thru the 50s. It was a story of the love between two sisters and how their separate lives tore them apart but never completely.
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on March 25, 2017
I have read a couple of Ms. See's books, and I loved them. So this book didn't disappoint as well. This should be made into a movie! I felt that I was right there during these times, and I could relate to most of the actors. Thanks Ms. See for a very interesting and fine book.
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on October 19, 2010
I was flipping through the radio one day when I heard a review of this book on Public Radio. The concept behind this book sounded compelling. As I read this book I could relate to it having been to Shanghai, having camped on Angel Island just north of Alcatraz, and having roamed around the old Chinese area of LA. This book was peppered with historical details, but seemed fairly devoid of too much cultural imagery. But all the historical details couldn't save this from the overly sensationalized soap opera the author decided to turn this into. I was hoping for adjectives but instead got verbs. Every time I see this book at a book store I feel cheated. So unrealistic. So dramatized. I wanted a slightly authentic Chinese immigrant experience, but instead it was a Hollywood action movie. Hey! I would just go to the movies instead of reading books if I wanted some hokey emotional experience. The ending left it self open for a sequel but I'll stay as far away from this pulp as possible.
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on May 3, 2017
Lisa See is a wonderful writer...very easy to read. I loved this book and the sequel Dreams of Joy. The historical information was fascinating and the research the author puts into the background of the story is impressive.
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on July 3, 2010
I was first introduced to Lisa See through reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I loved that book and soon ordered and devoured Peony in Love. This book, being the 3rd in line, had big shoes to fill. And while it definitely had its moments when I couldn't put it down, it took me a long time to get through this book, simply because it wasn't as riveting as the other books I'd read. And as others have mentioned, the ending was abrupt, compared to the snail's pace of the rest of the plot. Would I recommend this book to friends? Probably not. Wish Ms. See would write another book in a similar vein as Snow Flower...but I have a feeling this book will get a sequel instead.
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on March 19, 2017
Excellent book
Well written
Easy to read
Have recommended it to friends and family And
Now bought and read other books by Lisa see
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on November 1, 2016
I enjoyed the book. It gave grea t insite too Chinese living in the US at that time. However, I was very surprised too have the story end when it did. All of us wonder what happened in China.
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