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Dreams of Joy: A Novel Hardcover – May 31 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Edition edition (May 31 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006712X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067121
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #427,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“One of those hard-to-put down-until-four in-the-morning books . . . With each new novel, Lisa See gets better and better.”—Los Angeles Times
“Once again, See’s research feels impeccable, and she has created an authentic, visually arresting world.”—The Washington Post
“A stunningly researched epic about revolutionary-era China.”—Los Angeles
“See is a gifted historical novelist. She illuminates a turning point in Chinese history when people still remembered the inequities of the feudal caste system, and in some cases embodied them. . . . See is unflinching in her willingness to describe it all.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“See’s fans will be glad to read more about Pearl, May and Joy, and See’s recurring themes of unbreakable family bonds and strong-willed women.”—The Oregonian

About the Author

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Shanghai Girls, 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

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Set in the late 1950s, "Dreams of Joy" is the story of young Joy Louie who leaves her comfortable home in Los Angeles' Chinatown for the People's Republic of China to find both her birth father and what she thinks will be a better way of life. Her association with a communist group at the University of Chicago has led her to believe that it isn't the evil portrayed by the United States Government.

Since her birth father is a well-known artist in Shanghai, it is fairly easy for her to find him in spite of government restrictions. After his initial shock of discovering he even has a daughter, he seems happy to know her. She travels with him to the village of Green Dragon where she joins the commune and falls in love with a young peasant farmer.

In 1958, Mao announced the "Great Leap Forward," an attempt to increase agricultural and industrial production. However, three years of floods and bad harvest due to poor farming methods, severely damaged levels of production. The famine that occurred reportedly resulted in 4.5 million fatalities. The author masterfully transports us to that village and shows us in startling detail the horrors that result from this famine. Her attention to detail is wonderful and, while the book isn't a page-turner in the sense of a thriller, I was spellbound by the history of a period in China that has always fascinated me.

Although "Dreams of Joy" is the sequel to "Shanghai Girls," which I have never read, I found it stands alone quite well. Since I am always intrigued by the history of China, I will certainly go back and read the prequel, as well as Ms. See's earlier books. She is a skilful author with the ability to transfer the reader to the exotic country she writes about.
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By Louise Jolly TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24 2011
Format: Hardcover
On August 23, 1957, nineteen-year-old Joy, is a confused and upset Chinese girl. Everything she thought she knew about her birth has been a lie! The woman she thought was her mother was her aunt. Her aunt is actually her mother, and the man she loved as her father turns out not to have been her father at all and now he's dead. Her "biological" father is an artist from Shanghai whom both her mother and aunt have loved since before Joy was born. His name is Li Zhi-ge or Z.G. Li Zhi-ge used to paint Joy's mother and aunt when they were models back in Shanghai.

At 2 o'clock in the morning, Joy decides to leave their Los Angeles, California home and go to China. She packs a bag, writes her mother a note and quietly slips out the door. She walks to the nearest pay phone and calls her boyfriend Joe and tells him to get up, get dressed and get on a plane to San Francisco to meet her - they were going to China! Joe was having no part of that and hung up on her. However, Joy is still going to China, determined as ever to find her "real" father: "...even if he lives in a country of 600 million."

Joy is dazzled by Z.G. but is totally blinded by idealism and defiance and throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the Communist regime.

Distraught by Joy's leaving and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation.

A beautiful story of a family challenged by tragedy and time, but ultimately united by the resilience of love. Lisa See has a remarkable ability for writing and I've read every book she has written and with each one she just keeps outdoing herself. This is one you won't want to miss.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed with this book. I had high hopes because I really did enjoy Shanghai Girls. The beginning of the book wasn't so bad actually. It was pretty interesting. I liked the way you follow Joy through her journey to China - it was an eye opener, but her naivete also gets the best out of her as well. The reader already knows she's in for a quite a bit of pain and suffering and so sometimes you find yourself shaking your head at Joy's blind faith in the system.

I actually preferred Pearl's point of view of the story and her journey, because she had left so much behind and some questions were left unanswered. I loved how she went back home, back to her town and back to where she used to live, to find it radically changed, but she found people she recognized. It wasn't really a reunion that would be considered nice, but after so many years of not seeing these people, it was nice to see they were still there. I really liked reading Pearl because she showed a lot of strength and courage to go back and face anything to get Joy back.

When the Great Leap Forward comes along, I liked how this was added in, to make the plot move, and to put Joy and Pearl's journeys on a similar backdrop, but I just could not get into it. It was really slow and things just seemed to drag. The switching back and forth from Pearl to Joy wasn't so bad but the pace of the book was about the same as watching molasses being poured out of a container. Joy's plot really did seem to drag its' heels. I did not know how much of her stupidity I could take.

The ending wasn't so bad. However by the time I was almost done, I really wanted it to be done. It was very drawn out, and the writing just seemed really bland. It did not have the same dramatic tone as Shanghai Girls did.
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