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Dreams of Joy: A Novel | [Lisa See]

Dreams of Joy: A Novel

In her beloved New York Times best sellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in her most powerful novel yet, she returns to these timeless themes, continuing the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed 19-year-old daughter, Joy.
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Publisher's Summary

In her beloved New York Times best sellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in her most powerful novel yet, she returns to these timeless themes, continuing the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed 19-year-old daughter, Joy.

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime.

Devastated by Joy’s flight 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. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

Acclaimed for her richly drawn characters and vivid storytelling, Lisa See once again renders a family challenged by tragedy and time, yet ultimately united by the resilience of love.

©2011 Lisa See (P)2011 Random House

What the Critics Say

“See’s emotional themes are powerful... the bonds of sisterhood [and] the psychological journey of becoming an American.” (The Washington Post)

“A broadly sweeping tale.... The detail is thoughtful and intricate.” (The New York Times)

“[See evokes] a time and place with tantalizing detail.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (888 )
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4.4 (623 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Maida Sandy, UT, United States 06-03-11
    Maida Sandy, UT, United States 06-03-11 Member Since 2008

    I am a life long student. I love to study and learn and I enjoy factual books but also well research novels. At age 75 I have read lots.

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    "Dreams of Joy and all of Lisa See's books"

    They are amazing but you will love this book even better if you first listen to Shanghai Girls which is the book about this girls family and there entrance into the American culture and thier struggle in the United States. The author has an amazing insight into family relationships, especially the depth between sisters.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 09-18-11
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 09-18-11 Member Since 2010

    Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

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    "Great completion to the story"
    What about Janet Song’s performance did you like?

    As with Shanghai Girls and Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Janet Song provided the perfect voice for this story. Each character was distinct, and she handled even the male voices well. I cannot imagine a better voice for Lisa See's stories.


    Any additional comments?

    Shanghai Girls had me completely captivated, and I eagerly jumped right into Dreams of Joy to continue the saga. While I found myself getting irritated and impatient with Joy for rejecting every piece of sound advice she was given knowing that she would have a rude awakening very soon, I admired Pearl for her courage, loyalty and steadfast commitment to save her daughter from herself. The historical setting was facinating, showing the madness of the Great Leap Forward - making disasterous policies in opposition to all conventional wisdom about agritulture and manufacturing. "Quantity over quality" and the criminal disregard for human life nearly destroyed one of the great cultures of history. While the ending may have been somewhat unrealistic, it did provide a very satisfactory ending to a great story.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 05-06-13
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 05-06-13 Member Since 2009

    I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.

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    "A painful story"
    What made the experience of listening to Dreams of Joy the most enjoyable?

    Of the three books I've read of Lisa See's books, this was the most painful. I would say that the ending was the most enjoyable in terms of listening. However, I would have to say that overall, the character development that Lisa See uses is extraordinary. I felt that I knew Pearl and Joy very well, and felt very much connected to them. The relationship between mother and daughter was very well developed and evoked a very emotional response in myself as it unfolded.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    That's a hard question to answer. Though I enjoyed Joy's character I would have to say hands down that Pearl was my favourite character. I found her a bit morose and whiney in Shanghai Girls but in this book, she was a triumphant character and a wonderful mother, if not biological.


    What does Janet Song bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Janet Song brings an intensity with her narration and I don't think the book would have been as powerful without her voice.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Many of the scenes from the commune in Dandelion #8 commune moved me to tears and made me feel almost physically ill. But in retrospect, I feel those scenes were integral to the telling of the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I had no idea what China was like in Maoist times. This book was a real eye opener and beyond the wonderful story, there was a lot of interesting historical perspective.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yates East Windsor, NJ, United States 06-16-11
    Yates East Windsor, NJ, United States 06-16-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Another grand slam for Lisa See AND Janet Song!!!"

    I first read Shanghai Girls and then scrambled to find everything else Ms See wrote and found "Peony in Love" and "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and let me tell you that they were all simply wonderful reads!

    Dreams of Joy, even though were up against such high expectations (from me), did not disappoint. It brought me into the suffocating oppression of Red China in the age of the Great Leap Forward and gave me a terrifying glimpse of utter desperation, abuse of power, and the murder of a population of people. However, it also gave a view of the depth of love, compassion, and forgiveness.

    The narration as always by Ms. Song was superb! She never sounds contrived and shows the author's voice through her own in the most sublime manner. I so love her!

    I recommend this book highly! I will patiently await the next one. No pressure, Ms. See! You are amazing! Thank you!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Long Boalsburg, PA, United States 06-04-11
    Long Boalsburg, PA, United States 06-04-11
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    "A sequel that was worth the wait."

    I was frustrated at the end of Shanghai Girls , and it's been a long wait for the sequel. Thankfully, it was worth the wait. I didn't stop listening until it was finished. To fully appreciate this book, you should really listen to Shanghai Girls first. The narration is wonderful in both books.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 11-02-11
    Laurie Bellingham, WA, United States 11-02-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Good sequel"

    After listening to Shanghai Girls, and feeling disappointed at the cliffhanger ending, I was excited to hear the sequel. The narrator's voice is perfect for both women and easy to listen to. The first third was frustrating -not from a listening perspective, but from a plot perspective - both women made such irrational decisions. But it all made sense as the story unfolded. I learned a lot about China during Mao's early regime, which was tragic and shocking at times. This book was a satisfying completion to the storyline. If you liked the first book, you'll like this one as well. Lisa See can write a good story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron St. Louis, MO, United States 06-16-11
    Aaron St. Louis, MO, United States 06-16-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Chinese Perfection"

    A nearly perfect novel. Heartbreak, sublimation, humanity. Just gorgeous. See breathes palpable and true life into her story. I will be reading her other books.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dea Draper Mesa, AZ 10-08-14
    Dea Draper Mesa, AZ 10-08-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A new understanding of famine"

    In these present times when I take for granted the surplus of food and the daily struggle to not ingest too many calories, it is good to be reminded of true hunger and the survival it entails. I appreciate Lisa See's books since every one has been an eye opener to a way of life completely alien to my own. They are travel logs to Chinese history in perfect story form. The insights are as equally strong as the story line, which are solidly and smoothly integrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-16-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 08-16-14 Member Since 2009

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "What it is to be Chinese, What it is to be free"

    After listening to Shanghai Girls, I couldn't wait to start the sequel. The story of young idealistic Joy, sweet innocent daughter of Pearl who flees INTO communist China is absolutely engrossing, and like so many young people who get caught up in a dream. And the lives of May and Pearl also continue, as they face heartbreaking truths about themselves and their past. The historical facts included in this fictional story about what happened inside China during the early years of Mao are chilling, eye opening, even to us who think we know the evils of communism. The first hand accounts of the suffering and death of the Chinese people at the hands of this regime are horrifying, and the shift from glorious hope in equality to eventual utter despair of these proud, resilient people . . . well, it is evil in it's purest form. It is about power. It isn't and never was about equality.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aleshia Manchester, NH, United States 09-20-13
    aleshia Manchester, NH, United States 09-20-13 Member Since 2013

    Mother of three wonderful girls! I love to listen to audiobooks during my commute. Love to hear about any good books.

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    "Did not disappiont"

    I really enjoyed "Shanghai Girls" and this was a great ending to a great story. The characters come full circle in this book. The story also gives a vivid look at the beginnings of communist China. Beautiful story of the relationships between mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, great loves, lost loves, and new loves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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