In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree…until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.
As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.
At its hear, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astonishing new novel hold fast to who they are – Shanghai girls. – FROM THE BOOK JACKET
FROM THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS…Like See’s other novels, Shanghai Girls touched me. On some levels I could relate to Pearl, her struggle with standing out and the “burden” of having to be the “responsible” one. You can’t help but feel for her and be amazed for the sacrifices she makes for her sister and her daughter, Joy. There were even times I felt the need to “thump” her to be stronger and heard. All the emotions Pearl felt, I felt.
Reading Lisa See’s novels is like watching a movie without realizing you’re reading. The history of the Chinese culture she entwines into the pages make it all the more interesting to read.
Great book and one I plan to keep on my shelves. FOUR stars!
This book was provided for review by the The Random House Publishing Group & TLC Book Tours.