And this is the case. In the case, when a professional is responsible for good sex, unforgettable impressions and memories are really guaranteed.
It starts out OK with the depiction of Shanghai but never did anything to make me feel a connection to the characters. Pearl is just pure, unadulterated grouch, and May is a completly selfish jerk or is she? Most of the book is just a boring list of things that happened. We worked at China City. We spoke Sze Yup. Sam had iron fan. We did the husband-wife thing what a super annoying term!
What was the deal with Vern anyway? Was he retarded, autistic, Down's Syndrome, just sickly, what?? He had no purpose at all except for the stupid model boats at the end. I can't believe that there is a sequel because I can't imagine that people want to spend more time with these cardboard people. Lynne, Donna, Cam, Leslye, Mary. As such, I was really looking forward to reading Shanghai Girls when it came out. Initially though, people began saying that it did not compare.
So it was with trepidation that I began reading this book, afraid that I would be disappointed. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America I fell in love with Lisa See's writing a few years ago when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America around the time of the cultural revolution in China.
From the beginning of the book in Shanghai, through their journey out of China, to their stay on Angel Island, and finally their life in Southern California, I was captivated by Pearl and her sister May. Two sisters could not be more different, but more attached than the two women in this book. As usual, See has imbued this story with a wonderful cast of characters who surround the sisters and help tell the story of the bewilderment of the Chinese population after the invasion by Japan, the assimilation of the Chinese into American society in the s and 50s, and finally, the mistrust, prejudice, and panic in the US towards Chinese Americans after the rise to power in China of Mao Tse Tung.
See is such a gifted storyteller, that you feel like you know the characters personally and the pages just fly by. My only complaint was that the end of the story left so many loose ends. In a way it was fitting, but at the same time there were many questions left unanswered. I was, therefore, very excited to hear that Lisa See is planning to continue the story of Pearl, May, and Joy in another book.
View all 15 comments. I really enjoyed this peek into Chinese culture and history. For Ed's peace of mind, there are a few instances of tragedy porn a la Kite Runner, but I found this book rather more enjoyable. It covers Pearl and May's lives growing up in Shanghai, where they don't have to worry about much until their father basically sells them as wives for another man's sons in order to pay off his gambling debts. Amid this, the second Sino-Japanese War is going on, and it takes everything they have in order to g I really enjoyed this peek into Chinese culture and history.
Amid this, the second Sino-Japanese War is going on, and it takes everything they have in order to get out of Shanghai.
En route to America, the girls are detained at the Angel Island immigration facility and then when WWII hits they have to face the racism and discrimination against all Asian races because Westerners mistake them for being Japanese.
Pearl raises a daughter and is torn between bringing her up in the traditional Chinese way or the more modern American style. Along the way, she and May share a tight and sometimes strained bond as they share life-altering experiences. Being sisters married to a pair of brothers, they all live in the same house and family on top of family isn't always the best situation. Lisa See researched this excellently, and I learned so much; from Chinese culture in general to the issues immigrants had to deal with it really parallels the problems Mexicans and Latinos are facing in America right now , and then tying it in with several big historical events.
The end was left wide open for the sequel, Dreams of Joy , which I'm now dying for. View all 9 comments. Aug 11, Janice rated it did not like it. I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book. But, that being said, I also have to say that in my opinion it's not a very good book at all.
The plot is rollicking the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book.
The plot is rollicking the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist trade in L.
You might say that Amy Tan puts her characters through as much drama, but somehow I find Tan convincing where See is altogether not. As I was reading, I tried to put my finger on what was wrong. For one thing, See's writing just isn't strong enough to convince me of the truth of her characters' psychology.
One particularly exasperating sentence appears on p. Which brings me to my second and related point: I just can't see any Chinese woman speaking as openly as Pearl does. Her voice just doesn't feel Chinese to me, or at least not the way the voice of someone of her generation should feel, in my opinion. She reveals the most private, painful kinds of events in a way that is too open, too unguarded, too lacking in subtlety.
What Chinese woman or any woman would speak this way? Somehow writers like Amy Tan can pull it off Tan's language is strange, weird, and powerful enough to convey strange, weird, and powerful events , but in See's pedestrian, bland prose, this story is only soap opera and pop psychology. Jan 07, Spider the Doof Warrior rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is good, but why is it that folks don't TELL each other stuff?
Is it because it makes for a better story? It' can't be healthy. Even in the US these poor women get such a raw deal, especially Pearl. Her life sucked the most!
All that stuff happens to her in Shanghai, they are practically enslaved by that old man. They work constantly, only to have to deal with racists. They don't really get to have much pleasure and enjoyment. Except for May, maybe. But she's married to a teenager with developmental delays, so it's not as if her life is a nice steaming cup of Chinese tea, but it's more like a steaming cup of endless misery broken only by acting and guilting her sister into doing what she wants her to do.
Read it again, it's still good, but dammit, women why don't you TALK about these things instead of just yelling them at the end of the book? And again I wonder what these folks would have to say about me, the Wood Horse. I don't think I'm very outgoing, but I am rather free spirited. Would they be like, she's a Horse so she is like this and wants to do her thing but we must put a rein on her and teach her how to be more proper when all she wants to do is kick her hooves up in the air and run in some field winnying happily and freely while her mane flows in the wind?
Dammit, I want a horse. Also, dang Old school Chinese stories are depressing. No, in this movie she was married to an abusive asshole, but was in love with his son and even when he was dead, could they be together and happily have sex?
What does a horse want to do? Why doesn't someone buy me a Gypsy Vanner? Chinese people helped build this country. They build the railroads and shit, not to mention bringing Americanized Chinese food to this place and we all love that stuff.
Also Japanese people don't look like Monkeys. Oct 14, Kate rated it liked it Shelves: This is the second Lisa See novel that I've read, and both times when I've finished her books I've felt vaguely duped.
There's so much historical detail in here, much of it grim, that I feel like I must be reading something sweeping and important. But the character-driven parts of the plot often about tensions and jealousies in close female relationships remind me more of Dare I say it? Something kind of primal and potboiler-y and not too nuanced. So and so is the pret This is the second Lisa See novel that I've read, and both times when I've finished her books I've felt vaguely duped.
So and so is the pretty one. So and so is the rich one. So and so slept with my boyfriend. These dime-store drama elements, combined with the interesting and frequently heartbreaking historical aspects, make me wonder what exactly I'm reading.
See puts you through a lot with her characters in Shanghai Girls -- even after the worst of their hardships are over, they can't seem to catch a break. And then the resolution is so abrupt and unsatisfying that I wonder if she's setting up a sequel.
But still, it's hard to put down, and I raced through it. We'll see what the book club thinks. View all 5 comments. Lisa See brings out my finest emotions. The array of words is sown deep in my mind without the fear of being uprooted. I have a younger sister; never liked when she was born. I was extremely envious of her robbing all the parental attention. Over the years through our subtle rivalries and treacherous fights we grew closer and protective of each other.
Although she is four years younger than me, I feel maternal towards her, trying every possible way to shelter her happiness and smile. I do not be Lisa See brings out my finest emotions. I do not believe in love but I know for sure that I would do anything for her in a heartbeat.
Pearl Long resembles my sentiments or for that matter myself. Born in the Year of the Dragon, she is strong, indomitable and vulnerable yet to find her true self. May Long born in the Year of the Sheep, is coquettish, loquacious and a stark opposite of Pearl. Born in an elite bourgeois social standing, Pearl enjoys all the privileges of being served and pampered.
She and May known for their striking features acquire the title of Beautiful Girls, posing for all modeling and artistic calendars. Insensitive to lesser mortals, Pearl envisions her life with Z. At the age of 21, all her dreams come crashing down as her father loses the family fortune in a gambling tryst.
In order to save his family from ruins he unwillingly promises his daughters to the sons of Old Man Louie, an American-Chinese, creating a merciful situation amid all members. Thus, begins a death defying and deceitful journey that questions the love between the two sisters amid their destiny to be bonded as a family. As the narration proceeds, one witness the family going through impoverish circumstances, coerced arranged marriages, the advent of Sino-Japanese war and later a masquerade of veiled secrets and acrid relationships.
It is during the Sino-Japanese war that Pearl discovers her true destiny. A brutal rape attack by the Japanese soldiers leaves her mother dead and Pearl is besieged by the prospect of normality and childless procurement. Only a Dragon can wear the horns of destiny, duty, and power. Your sister is merely a Sheep. You have always been a better mother to her than I have. Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul.
Pearl found her fierce element that helped her to conceal her fate with May forgivingly whilst adamantly coming in her own as a devoted mother who she never knew existed.
Lisa comes very close to penning a flawless novel. With a sluggish start and the open lucidity of an inexplicable plot, the book at times fails to capture the mandatory attention making one skip the repetitive description to bypass the stagnated phase. Nevertheless, it is unproblematic to overlook this criterion and discover the brilliance of Lisa See.
May 25, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: This is my first Lisa See novel, but I do not expect it to be my last. I understand there is a follow-up novel to this one, and that is encouraging, because I felt this one ended with just too many untied ends.
I would like to get to the next installment before the details of this one have faded. They are caught between the modern society of s Shanghai and the traditional Chinese values that are still 3. They are caught between the modern society of s Shanghai and the traditional Chinese values that are still practiced by their parents and those of their generation.
In the wake of a collapse of fortunes for their father, they are given in arranged marriage to two brothers, who make their homes in San Francisco. We are given a clear picture of life in s China, war with Japan, the advent of Mao and communism and how that affects the fates of Chinese-Americans. Along with the historical elements that challenge these sisters are the personal elements, of course. I think the frustratingly but realistic relationship between the two was what made this novel work well for me.
View all 7 comments. Nov 09, Sasha rated it did not like it. I'm sorry to say that I thought this book was horrible. As a huge fan of Snowflower and the Secret Fan and of the beautiful characters, beautifully described scenery, tragedies, hardships, and the deep bonds between the characters within it, I went into this book hoping for something of the same.
I felt the character development in this book was forced, I thought the story was all over the place, and there was never and deep understanding of the people within it. Maybe it's because I never ident I'm sorry to say that I thought this book was horrible. Maybe it's because I never identified with any of the characters. I thought May was spoiled and silly, I thought Pearl was, well, boring. I never warmed to the Louie family.
It was anticlimactic, sort of going along until it was just over. There were a few random tragedies near the end, but none of it moved me. I see that my opinion is in the minority but frankly I just really expected more from this book.
By the end I was just skimming through it, stopping to catch up after 20 or so pages to see if it drew me back in. View all 4 comments. Apr 06, George rated it it was amazing Shelves: Lisa See absolutely never, ever disappoints. I think I forgot to breathe during the last twenty pages. What a great movie this novel would make.
Aug 15, Louise rated it it was ok. There's a phrase in Chinese, chi ku eat bitterness , which Lisa See's Shanghai Girls exemplifies perfectly. From one end of the book to the other, there's nothing but hardships and heartaches. The first hardship I found is not actually in the story in the novel, but comes from the novel itself.
See writes in the first person through the voice of Pearl, a girl growing up in Shanghai during the volatile Sino-Japanese war. Unfortunately, Pearl seems too self-aware of other people's thoughts, motive There's a phrase in Chinese, chi ku eat bitterness , which Lisa See's Shanghai Girls exemplifies perfectly.
Unfortunately, Pearl seems too self-aware of other people's thoughts, motives, and the world in general. Writing in the first person voice, but with an omniscient view of the environment makes Pearl's thoughts feel artificial and awkward. Another thing I found difficult to overcome in the novel were the inconsistent choice of Chinese words.
The author insists on using the Cantonese word cheongsam for the traditional dresses worn by women at that time, trying to give Pearl a continental and modern flare, yet uses the traditional and scholarly term 'wu dialect' instead of the modern 'Shanghainese. If one can get over the technical problems of the novel, it's easy to get sucked into the twists and turns of the two Shanghainese girls.
But be warned, the book really is like vicariously eating bitterness. There are several graphic scenes that I found difficult to read as well as parts where I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
See does a decent job of illuminating the difficulties women and the Chinese in general faced during that time. At the end of Shanghai Girls, I literally sighed. The story has so much potential to be epic, yet falls slightly short of that because of technical difficulties I couldn't overlook.
Maybe I'm just being snobbish because my hometown is Shanghai, but the novel could have been so much better. She's clever to have kept mentioning that the girls' English was 'perfect' because this helped with voice authenticity. Otherwise, the narrative would have seemed too Americanized.
On the other hand, I felt let down by the last quarter of the book, and completely nonplussed by the ending. It all felt rushed, as if she was running to the end, and not entirely believable. It just doesn't seem real that in the s a young Chine Good, solid read. It just doesn't seem real that in the s a young Chinese American girl would just run away, disappear like that, supposedly off to Communist China.
Still, a very solid read. I might try more from this author. Jun 25, Kelly Ohl rated it liked it. The book begins with Pearl and May, 2 sisters in Shanghai when they are roughly 18 and Pearl, the oldest, is immediately identified as the lesser sister in their parents eyes having to endure demeaning ridicule and comparison to her younger, prettier, and daintier sister, May.
As Pearl is telling this story in first person, you really feel how sad and embarrassed she is of herself. However, through it all, even with her parents obviously favoritism of her sister May, she takes care of her, and protects her, being her jie jie. In the first few chapters we realize their Baba father is a gambling man who lost everything to debtors, even his own daughters in an arranged marriage. Up until then they always thought that unlike their parents, they would be able to marry for love and choose their partner themselves.
They meet with Sam and Vern, the two men they will be marrying, which is out of tradition, but they are allowed to meet once before the wedding. Sam is a quiet and handsome man, very caring and mindful, while Vern is naught but 14 and very good at it, even a little less than mature. Pearl is to marry Sam, May is to marry Vern. They after dodging, and Pearl being in love with another man, realize they have no choice to go through with it and they do.
When japan declares war on China, the city is bombed, people are dying all around them, and in defiance, they threw away the tickets that would have taken them to America to meet their husbands. They find out May is pregnant, and not by her 14 year old husband, so while in detainment before being allowed to go home to their husbands, Pearl decides to raise the baby as her own since she had actually had sex with her husband on the wedding night.
If this sounds sad thus far, it only gets worse. The daughter that Pearl raises, Joy, is an absolute ingrate towards the end and continues to step all over her mother, and even her good natured and strong father. May is continually selfish being the almost privileged girl in life and blaming her poor sister who has done nothing but sacrificed for her. Nov 03, Connie rated it liked it Shelves: See has once again grabbed my attention with her detail of a time and culture I knew little about and creating characters that I come to care about.
Her writing is so easy that it is not difficult to immerse myself in her stories of a culture foreign to me. This story follows Pearl and May who we meet as privelaged and spoiled beautiful girls of glittery Shanghai.
Naive and so unaware of the political turmoil of their country and the bad choices of their father they are set up in arranged marri See has once again grabbed my attention with her detail of a time and culture I knew little about and creating characters that I come to care about.
Naive and so unaware of the political turmoil of their country and the bad choices of their father they are set up in arranged marriages. We follow their struggles to leave their country, immigrate to America and enter into a land and social standing that is so foreign to them. They each struggle and learn to survive in their own way but above all they always have the bond that is sisterhood. I went back and forth as to which sister I empathized with, or even liked. My opinion changed as did theirs of each other.
I was a bit saddened to learn how difficult the US made it for these people to immigrate, and what second hand citizens they became It made me think more seriously about the immigration issues of today. The story dragged for me a bit about midway through but pulled me back toward the end. Sep 04, Carol Brill rated it really liked it. A saga with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place, set In pre-world war II Shanghai.
Sisters, May and Pearl, work as beautiful girl calendar models. They live comfortably until their father gambles away the family possessions to a Chinese American mob-like business man. To repay his debt, he "sells" his daughters into arranged marriages with the business man's sons. As China is invaded, Pearl and May flee for the dangerous journey to America. They encounter brutality that a few t A saga with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place, set In pre-world war II Shanghai.
They encounter brutality that a few times made it difficult to keep reading. Overall this is a satisfying read, with what I found to be an abrupt, unsatisfying ending. I turned the page and was stunned the story stopped where it stopped. Yet another book about immigration, racism and discrimination. In a superficial layer this book is about two sisters, Pearl and May, their differences, their relationship.
Which being honest is all I knew of the book. However, there is an inner layer. This layer took me by surprise because I wasn't expecting to learn that much of China's history that mainly because I didn't read the description of the book before reading it.
It was so interesting to get the story of another race not just Latino Yet another book about immigration, racism and discrimination. It was so interesting to get the story of another race not just Latinos who has to emigrate from their countries because of war, poverty or so many other aspects.
At the begging of the story the girls were rich kids in Shanghai, pretty girls who had what they wanted and knew what money can do but from one day to another they end up having nothing and they literally have to run for their lives, they need to get safe and by doing so we learn the reality of their country and how war has affected it.
We also learn what it took to a Chinese to get into the US and the discrimination they suffer by misconceptions, their fear, their effort to fit in a country that was not their own and most of the time how much they missed their country, their culture and relatives they had to left behind in order to survive. In order to understand the lives of others, this type of books are so important because even thought the characters are fictional there is history behind them and with that reality.
I honestly think that Lisa See made a fantastic research with the story that needs to be better appreciated. Sep 09, Cynthia rated it it was ok. I have really mixed feelings about this book, it's almost like the book is horrible and beautiful at the same time. The book is told from the perspective of the oldest of two beautiful Chinese sisters growing up in Shanghai during the 's.
They live a pampered life until suddenly their father loses everything and sells them as brides to two young men from America to repay a debt. The book follows the sisters as they are forced to flee from their native country and find refuge in the home of t I have really mixed feelings about this book, it's almost like the book is horrible and beautiful at the same time. The book follows the sisters as they are forced to flee from their native country and find refuge in the home of their husbands, about whom they know nothing at all.
First of all, this book is not for everyone. The book takes place at the outbreak of war between Japan and China and there are some brutal scenes related to the war. One particular passage left me with the chills. That said I had a hard time putting this book down.
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