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China Dolls: A Novel | [Lisa See]

China Dolls: A Novel

It's 1938 in San Francisco: A world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade.
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See's highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls.

It's 1938 in San Francisco: A world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.

The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

©2014 Lisa See (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"China Dolls mines a fascinating part of our cultural history through the story of a trio of women who become a complex constant in one another's lives even as the world serves up painful transformation. Lisa See gets so much just right here. You'll want to dive right in." (Paula McLain, New York Times best-selling author of The Paris Wife)

"This is one of those stories I've always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo! Here's a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs." (Jamie Ford, New York Times best-selling author of Songs of Willow Frost)

"In the beginning of See's stellar ninth book, three young women, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, meet and form an unlikely but strong bond in San Francisco in 1938. . . . The story alternates between their viewpoints, with each woman's voice strong and dynamic, developing a multilayered richness as it progresses. The depth of See's characters and her winning prose make this book a wonderful journey through love and loss." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (341 )
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3.8 (308 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 10-12-14
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 10-12-14 Member Since 2015

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not as good as See's other works"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    samiam2029 07-02-14
    samiam2029 07-02-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    118
    19
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    2
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    "I love Lisa See - but I didn't love this"
    Would you try another book from Lisa See and/or Jodi Long?

    Definitely.


    If you’ve listened to books by Lisa See before, how does this one compare?

    Not nearly as engaging.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Sure, it was fine.


    Was China Dolls worth the listening time?

    Yes and no. There were bits that were really good, but for the most part, it felt drawn out, repetitive and almost boring.


    Any additional comments?

    I truly have adored all of Lisa See's other books (not including the mysteries, which are a whole different thing). But this book just didn't have the same emotional and factual depth.

    However, the last hour of the book was really good, much more interesting than the rest. Kind of made it end on a good note, at least.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy L. 06-18-14
    Wendy L. 06-18-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Much Enjoy Book"
    What made the experience of listening to China Dolls the most enjoyable?

    Remind me of my family and experience thru stories of family members.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of China Dolls?

    The ending when everyone reunited for one last time.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Each and every scene as the three come into their own.


    If you could take any character from China Dolls out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Grace and Ruby


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sofie 07-30-15
    Sofie 07-30-15 Member Since 2007
    ratings
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    20
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    Story
    "Ok"

    I liked the story. I like Lisa See, but this is not her best. I did not like the way ms. Long read the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candice Lane 07-16-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Did not care for the narrator"
    What did you like best about China Dolls? What did you like least?

    I like Lisa See's stories, and enjoy learning about Chinese traditions. I really did not like the narrator's voice. This story was about young Chinese/Japanese girls. The narrator's voice sounds like an older woman.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I really could not get past the narration to enjoy the story.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jodi Long?

    Janet Song did a very nice narration of Snow Flower and the Magic Fan and Shanghai Girls.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Probably not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 06-13-15
    Susan 06-13-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    139
    5
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    "Good but Shanghai Girls was better"

    I loved Shanghai girl and Dreams of Joy. China Dolls story was not as appealing to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan G. 06-10-15
    Megan G. 06-10-15 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    10
    1
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    Story
    "Engrossing Listen"

    I found the story to be quite engrossing and I didn't want to stop listening. There were some points in the story where the choices made by the characters really ticked me off and one character, in particular, really rubbed me the wrong way.

    I could definitely see myself and my friends in this story as it relates to female friendships. The feelings of being left out or favored by one of two friends is all too familiar to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danielle 05-18-15
    Danielle 05-18-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Good story but needs a new narrator"

    The story was good but the narrator detracted from the feel of the story. A better narrator would have justified a higher overall rating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Mckinney Austin TX 04-12-15
    Jennifer Mckinney Austin TX 04-12-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
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    Performance
    Story
    "China Dolls by Lisa See"
    Where does China Dolls rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    China Dolls by Lisa See was the first Audible book I listened to and enjoyed. However, I rank it second on the list of fave's. The first is A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of China Dolls?

    I can't tell, not only were there so many memorable moments but it might ruin the plot for someone. However, I will say it was a fun book to listen to.


    Have you listened to any of Jodi Long’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I have not but I hope to. She is yet another great voice talent.


    Any additional comments?

    Despite it's length, Lisa See and of course the narrator Jodi Long, make this an interesting and historical read. If you are a fan of Lisa See's work but have yet to read China Dolls I recommend listening to it instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-22-15 Member Since 2009
    ratings
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    1
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    "Another great story by Lisa See"

    Lisa See never fails to capture my attention. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Great listen, enjoyable reader!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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