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Publisher's Summary

For readers of the phenomenal best sellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love, a stunning new novel from Lisa See about two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles.

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

Critic Reviews

"A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Fort Worth, TX, United States
  • 08-02-10

Enjoyed very much!

I loved this book. I not only learned about the culture of the characters but a lot about what went on in California's Asian community during this time frame. I liked it enough to want to read more by this author. I didn't want it to end.

  • Overall

I really enjoyed this book

It gave me a very descriptive glimpse into what it was to live in china and the challenges of immigrants. Plus the human love story was wonderful.

  • Overall
  • Melinda
  • Cape Coral, FL, USA
  • 07-03-10

Recommend This Book

Great book, it was full of emotion, sadness and love!!! The narrator was very good and I enjoyed it very much, could not stop listening to it once I started. Really got involved in the story line and felt as part of the characters.

  • Overall

So much of interest.

There is much to recommend this book. I found the story surrounding China and the situation Chinese immigrants found themselves in most compelling. Being from the Los Angeles area, I liked all the details about life in downtown. I loved the exploration of the relationship of the sisters.
All that being said, the ending was not satisfying. In fact, the last part of the book seemed to loose energy. Worth a listen, certainly. I give it a 4 because it made me think of many things.

  • Overall
  • Beatriz
  • Monterrey, Mexico
  • 05-30-10

Wonderful story..,

Well written book.., I loved the story.., the relationship between the 2 sisters, the cultural shocks between USA and China.., the story really moves you.., although at the end of the book seems the writer just let the reader an unfinished feeling

  • Overall
  • Anne
  • Morgantown, WV, USA
  • 05-04-10

Shanghai Girls

Excellent book. Couldn't stop listening.

  • Overall

Excellent novel, dont miss out!

This is a very special book. I learned so much about China in the 1900's and the plight of women, and how simple yet difficult life was then. Its also very Poignant in how it portrays the relationship between the two sisters who lose all the comforts as well as their parents and family home and run to California to suffer more hardship and disgrace. While battling their own insecurities, fears and jealousies, they lose everything but the love for each other. SIGH! This is a beautiful gift for your sister or best friend. Like most of Lisa See's novels, this is a classic.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story


I thought this book was mostly well-written, and the narrator was quite good. It's a grim story, with little lightness. I felt that the author ran out of story at the end, and just left things hanging. Sometimes this is done to set up for a sequel, but I'm not interested enough to want to read a sequel.

  • Overall
  • Michelle
  • san diego, CA, United States
  • 02-25-10

Incredibly captivating story

Lately it seems that more often than not, I purchase books and can't finish them. Either poor narration or the story just isn't compelling. That certainly was not the case with this treasure. Right from the start, the story is fascinating and I was shocked to learn that a non-Chinese woman wrote the story as it sounds so very authentic. The narration is spot on, and she does a great job with a variety of different characters. I'll purchase her other books based on my experience with this one

  • Overall
  • Alejandra
  • Spring Hill, KS, United States
  • 10-16-09

I would recommend it to a friend

Like others have said before, the end of this book was not a real end, I agree and would've like a bit more closure. BUT, don't let this stop you from buying it! You will enjoy it. It's been a while since I enjoy an audiobook so much (and I get bored easily), it is easy to follow and full of layers. Good book!