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Shanghai Girls: A Novel [Hardcover]

Lisa See
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 28.95
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Book Description

May 26 2009
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 in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

At its heart, 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 astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.

Frequently Bought Together

Shanghai Girls: A Novel + Dreams of Joy: A Novel
Price For Both: CDN$ 47.16

  • Dreams of Joy: A Novel CDN$ 24.00

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Product Description


“See is a gifted writer, and in Shanghai Girls she again explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”—USA Today

“A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood.”–Booklist

“A rich work…as compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey.”—Denver Post

“The glamour of prewar Shanghai is recalled in Lisa See’s deftly plotted Shanghai Girls.”Vogue


“An engrossing tale of two sisters.”–

Shanghai Girls is one of those books I could not wait to continue reading, because her characters' stories are so compellingly told.”—St. Louis Dispatch

“As in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, she has in her latest novel created ordinary women who, through willfulness and resiliency, accomplish extraordinary things…See, whose writing is as graceful as these '’beautiful girls,'’ pulls off another exceptional novel.”–Miami Herald

About the Author

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Flower Net (an Edgar Award nominee), The Interior, and Dragon Bones, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain. The Organization of Chinese American Women named her the 2001 National Woman of the Year. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learning about China March 21 2010
By MacFly
About a year ago, I started to listen to audiobooks as another way to "read" more. The selections I usually make in this category are books that I think are probably really good but that might take a bit more effort to read. That it, they are of a subject matter of which I know little, are really thick, and so on. Shanghai Girls is about two girls living a wonderful life in Shanghai before their father gambles away their futures and they enter into arranged marriages and move to the United States. I learned a great deal about China and the Chinese way of life and experience of moving to America in this book. The story itself was very, very good. I was engaged right from the very beginning to the end - and, in the end, I wanted more. I don't know that there will be a sequel of any sort, but there is still a lot more story that could be told. I really enjoyed the writing style - the story just seemed to flow with the right amount of detail while, at other times, longer periods of time could be covered more quickly. I will definitely seek out other books by this author to learn more about China and a Chinese experience of which I know very little.
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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent read Aug. 11 2014
By Cindyw
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and found it to be continually moving with a few slow parts. I learned about the treatment of the Chinese and their continual inroads and suffering they had to make to live in North America. All in all a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read March 6 2014
By Jan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a surprising book. I read it for my book club and did not expect to enjoy it so much. There is so much detail and as disturbing as it was, I found myself riveted. A great read, includes some history and leads you right into the sequel, Dreams of Joy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down. Jan. 22 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After a two wee trip to China reading this book has brought me back. Set in early 1900's you learn about the culture and traditions that are so important through two young women who have lost everything but survive. I would suggest this to anyone even if you have not traveled the Asia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Choice Feb. 25 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good story with historical setting. Very interesting subject that will really get you thinking about events from the past. I would recommend it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An emotional roller coaster July 26 2009
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
The thing I like about books situated during World War II is, it's filled with drama. Most of the drama is usually heart wrenching and sad - naturally, given that during those times, the world was not a very nice place to live in. Even the after effects of war results in dramatic impact on every day lives of people. Shanghai Girls follows the events of two sisters during World War II from China to their journey to the US.

The story is very well done. Some parts are just heart wrenching and sad, some are very tender and loving. In other words, it's such an emotional roller coaster which makes this story extremely dramatic yet realistic. It's a story of a relationship of two sisters who make it through thick and thin, through very horrible circumstances, yet they survive because of their unconditional love and loyalty to each other. I admire these two qualities in these two women which gave them the strength to carry on with their lives. There are very strong emotions in this novel and you can actually feel them as you read.

Other things to note about this book; I love the cover. I love this kind of art I think it's very beautiful and eye catching. It's a suiting cover as the girls worked as "Beautiful Girls" for posters and ads during their time in Shanghai. The next thing I want to add: I wonder if there is a sequel to this book? it does leave a little bit of a loose end in the finale that leaves room for a second book to follow. If it is the case, then I will be reading it, definitely.
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