Bellevue, WA, United States | Member Since 2007
I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. At least I wanted to finish it to find out how it concluded. Someone recommended the book to me and I probably should have done more research before buying it,as I'm not generally a fan of Sci-Fi.
There is a lot of story here. A lot. There is the time of the novel (late 1990s/early 2000s), a little while ago (1950s) and longer while ago (early 1900s) and lots of wayback (mid 1800s). Sure, it does all come together at some point, but I also felt the story wandering in a way that I wasn't sure if it would ever come back and if it did, would I even remember the tidbit of new info we learned in that ancient journal history and how it impacted the current day. There is also quite a bit of emotion in the book, too, and readers will be impacted differently based on their own life experiences.
Think of this more as a collection of short stories along a central theme and don't fall into the trap of trying to make sense of it as a novel. Because it isn't. The first short story enthralled me, and from there things spiraled downhill. Maybe it's because I wanted the characters in that first story to be more developed. Generally, I would say disappointing.
Certainly a story about a young girl and her friends on a mission to the USA to find men and bring them back to her town in Mexico. Parts of it were interesting as they went about the quest, but overall, it fell flat and lacked inspiration.
I read this book multiple times in high school and college, about 25 years ago, and revisited when students at my school were reading it. I found the story is still captivating and interesting, a relief when other recently revisited classics had lost their luster for me. Knowles' exploration of jealousy set at a prep school at the dawn of WWII still holds relevance today as today's teens struggle with that emotion in the midst of the technology age.
Think of this more as a collection of short stories about members of the same family rather than as a well developed novel. Each member of Hattie's family is developed within its section, but hardly, if ever, reappears in the book. I longed for the stories to be pulled together and for this to be a more complete novel. It lacked that.
I wanted to REALLY like this book--a historical look at Hollywood's role in WWII, specifically with directors sent into the European and Pacific theatres to film the action for propaganda and training films. I enjoy this genre of writing as well as stories of Hollywood and WWII, so this book should have been perfect. In the end, it was just too much. It was so well researched and detailed that for this listener/reader I was overwhelmed with the detail and lost the larger story of how Hollywood directors supported the war. I think I would have enjoyed an abridged version of this book. The details of 20 hours of listening was a turn off.
Mostly, I liked this book. It came at the right moment when I could truly hear most of what she was saying, learn from it, and apply it to my life. Her stories are personal and gut-wrenching at times. And at times, for me, the way she framed some things was a bit too sarcastic for me. Maybe it wasn't sarcasm so much as a dry humor that was a bit of a turn off at times. I got through those moments and am glad I finished the book. I was challenged and encouraged in many ways that I needed.
There are many reasons I didn't like this novel, including both subject matter, story and writing style. Regarding the subject matter, I was offended by the explicit sexual descriptions of a relationship between a teacher and student. Not only do we not need to create more stories around the topic, we also do not need detailed descriptions. Beyond that offensive part of the book the overall story was weak and lacked a compelling theme. Two main stories were explored: the one of Amy and Isabelle and then a side story of people at Isabelle's work that should have just been edited out. Finally, the writing style was poor. In addition to having too much story in there, tidbits of the future beyond the book were given, and in a way that was not interesting as to what might take place in the future, but was just another random piece of information that continue to detract from the book. Skip it.
I can't remember what inspired me to buy this book, but when I found it in my library I was a little leery of it. Re-reading the synopsis did not draw me in. However, it was next up in the library, so I began listening to it. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and how quickly it drew me in. The past and present of Victoria's story are intertwined through this novel, using the Victorian meaning of flowers as a story-telling mechanism. Enchanting and interesting. I loved it to the last minute.
China Dolls is not as interesting and compelling book as Lisa See's other novels. This book tells the story of three young "orientals" who meet in San Francisco in the late 1930s, and the journey of their lives over the next several decades. The story at time seemed forced and not as natural as those in See's other novels. The narration is fair at best and did not help to bring life to each character.
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