May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl's parents arrange for their daughters to marry "Gold Mountain men" who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.
But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel's Island (the Ellis Island of the West, where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months) they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she's pregnant, the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.
A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and best-selling author Lisa See.
©2009 Random House; (P)2009 Random House
"A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood." (Booklist)
As excellent as this book was, I felt bogged down in the sadness of it all. I felt like it was a modern "Good Earth". Maybe it was the narrator...seemed always melodramatic. I really appreciated all the cultural parts, but my heart ached the whole time without being able to come up for a breath. This is definitely not a reason to not listen to this book, but I found myself reading other things in between! Lynn
I enjoyed this book - I thought it was better than Hotel on Corner of Bitter and Sweet - more believable. The narration is excellent and the story followed a very consistent thread. It kept me listening throughout, with interest. Some may feel too lightweight, but I found it to be enlightening and a reminder of the way things were and the struggles of the Chinese immigrants to the USA. Perhaps a similar stage is being set for other cultures immigrating -- this story generates empathy.
I am hoping this is a historic fiction because the history of China has been very interesting and I'm hopeful that it is accurate. The story is also interesting to me and I find myself looking for opportunities to listen as much as possible.
This was my first encounter with Lisa See's work. I found the subject matter interesting (2 sisters forced by war and family tragedy to leave their native Shanghai and emigrate to the U.S. in the 1940s). The story and See's style were engaging, but I felt manipulated by the story's ending -- a rather crass setup for a sequel.
I absolutely loved SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN so when I saw this one by the same author I was very anxious to read it. It was good, but not great. The ending was very disappointing. It's a good listen, but I can't rave about it.
Pretty good story, and well narrated but not totally believable for me regarding May and her husband thing... you'll get it when you listen to the story otherwise it should receive 5 stars. It did hold my interest and I do recommend it. I felt I learned more about what happened to the Chinese in the internment camps and the threat of communism during that time period. No bad language or overly done descriptive curtly. I do hope there is a sequel to see what happens to the daughter. I would differently buy it.
Lisa See is an excellent writer. She paints every scene. Honest description of life at that time but so sad. Strong stomach needed. There were so few comfortable moments for her characters. Narrator was perfect. Ending was most unsatisfactory.
While the book has an interesting story - two sisters are forced from their native china and end up living in America, I was disappointed with the book overall.
It was a little aggravating listening to how naive these two girls were. A little common sense would have saved them much hardship. Overall I did like the story and felt it was worth listening to.
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