Monday, July 6, 2009

Shanghai Girls

Title: Shanghai Girls
Author: Lisa See
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2009
Date Finished: 23 June 2009
My Rating: 4 Stars
Challenges: 100+, Library, New Author, Pub

Shanghai Girls tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, living in the Shanghai of the 1930s, the Paris of Asia. The sisters live a modern and carefree life as models until a series of events begin to unfold that will transform their lives. After being sold as wives to two young Chinese Americans, Pearl and May are forced to leave their beloved Shanghai for America.
The novel, which is told from Pearl's perspective, chronicles the close but sometimes volatile relationship between the sisters as well as their struggles to escape worn torn China, the struggles they face in America at the Angel Island detention center and their new lives with a new family in America.
I found both Pearl and May to be fascinating characters who each in their own way adapted to the upheavals in their lives, even if they did not understand each others choices and motivations leading to more tension and misunderstanding.
Shanghai Girls is a very intriguing historical fiction novel that that gives the reader a look at life and culture in pre-WWII China and the life and culture of Chinese people living in the United States in the 1940s and 50s.
I loved the lead up to the end, very tense and climatic but I am just not sure how I feel about the actual ending...

There were a number of traumatic events that Pearl and May experienced, which while not necessarily graphic in nature, were not easy for me to read. I never thought of myself as overly sensitive but there were times I had to set the book aside and take a break from reading. Reading accounts like this one, based on actual events, just leaves me feeling a little depressed about the horrid ways people can treat others.


Lit and Life said...

I have never read a negative review of this book which tells me it's one I definitely have to pick up!

Anna said...

This one is taunting me on my shelf, and I can't wait to read it. I've heard that the ending means a sequel could be in the works, but I haven't read it so I can't say. Glad to hear you liked it, though.

Diary of an Eccentric

infiniteshelf said...

Great review! I loved reading how this book touched you on the emotional side. It's on my tbr list, I can't wait to read it! Like Lit and Life, I have yet to read a negative review of this.

Elaine said...

I recently read and reviewed this over on my blog. I find Lisa See a fine writer and only discovered her last year when I read Peony in Love which I just couldnot put down and found quite beautiful. This is a different kettle of fish altogether, but I found it totally fascinating. I have two more of this author waiting to go.

Marg said...

I really, really want to read this book! I am hoping it is going to come into the library soon!

Anonymous said...

I hope you will see this comment about 'Shanghai Girls' - I was so undone by the ending of the book that I emailed Lisa See to ask if there would be a sequel because I couldn't stand not knowing what would happen and there will be a sequel - I was SO HAPPY!