Paper Wife

A Novel
Narrated by: Nancy Wu
Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,319 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife - a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family - even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

©2018 Laila Ibrahim. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just okay..disappointed

I read & listened to ‘Paper Wife’ because I adore every book from Laila Ibrahim! Yet I couldn’t help but feel I was reading “Shanghai Girls” another author, yet about 10 hours less and less details. It was so close to having a matchmaker involved in your life & the Chinese girl being sent to Angel Island in San Francisco to the same husband type..always say they have money but have none..even a pregnancy. I don’t want to be petty, really. I liked this book and of course the other book was during WWII and ‘Paper Wife’ was in the early 1920’s.

Laila Lbrahim is an excellent author, but there just didn’t seem to have enough originality. Every Chinese or Japanese book just seems to always take the same path. As far as Nancy Wu..loved her narration! When Mai Li, the Chinese girl who left home to what she thought was a rich husband didn’t understand English...Nancy Wu used words that sounded like “babbling” to let us understand that English sounded like that to someone not knowing English. Plus she had a great way of making characters sound unique.

I also didn’t like the very quick ending! All of a sudden someone (no spoilers) who was “using” a child for something...was “gone” it didn’t even last a chapter? As I’m writing this I’m listening to the last 15 minutes & now Epilogue...wishing & hoping something will make me love it, but unfortunately, I’m sorry, I just didn’t love it.

But you readers & listeners are the reviewers so I’m sure everyone will give a different review & I’m anxious to hear other readers as well. I definitely recommend it but not enthusiastic as I was with her other books.
3 stars for story& 5 stars for narration.

88 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Paper wife

Well, was a good look into another culture's struggle. Very well written for 1st persons life. Just not enough to keep me intrested..

12 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not my cuppa...

Picked this up because Nancy Wu is one of my favorite narrators…BUT

DNF- I can’t deal with how this author makes her historical characters have contemporary ideas, values, morals, and other traits. The concept is great & the story interesting but sadly, this is my last attempt to read this author works.

She may work for kids/teens as a gateway to upper-level reading.

74 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A nice story

I have read books with very similar plot lines many times before. A paper wife goes to America, faces uncertainty and strife during immigration. I've had other books give better descriptions of Angel Island though, but I felt having that background info helped me like this book more.
She doesn't trust her new husband, she finds out he is not the man of status she thought he was. They learn to love each other. A threat of danger makes their fates uncertain. I don't want to give too much away. So while the story is just a repeat of most of the Asian immigrants genre, I would still recommend it to read. The writing and narration are engaging.

21 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

Having read both The Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, which I both enjoyed, I was looking forward to this book but truly had to force myself to finish it. I think the story idea was good and well intentioned but the writing was absolutely awful. I can’t believe this is one and the same author. There were so many repetitions. The strangest thing was the filled in lines for all English spoken sentences. Why not write out what was said?
Sad to say it was a disappointment.

19 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • FL
  • 03-14-19

Misleading

Stupid, I don’t really think the author understand the Chinese culture, how Chinese handle emotions and express emotions. The storyline is weird overall. It makes one thing happen just for it to happen.

26 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What a heartwarming story

I wasn’t ready for this story to end. It’s the first one I have read of the Chinese indentured servants and left me with many facts I hadn’t known about Chinese culture and their way of life and religion. I listened on Audible and loved the way the story was told, with anyone speaking in English to the main character, sounding like gibberish, the way she probably heard it sound.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Paper Wife t

Paper wife is a novel worth listening to. It is as entertaining as that was written by Lisa See. The novelist invites the reader into the world of the Chinese immigrant. We learn the hardships they endured to make a better life for themselves. The characters are likable and the gentle flow of the plot is a nice change from stories with more intense action.

For the most part, I enjoyed the language. The only weakness I saw was overuse of The dragon image by the author. It reminded me of EL James constant reference to her protagonist’s “inner goddess.“ Once or twice, the reference is fine, but after a dozen times it becomes tiring to hear.

The reader did a fine job telling the story. She was easy to understand and neither over nor underperformed the telling if it.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as her other book

While the historical elements of the story were very interesting, the story wasn’t great. I loved Yellow Crocus, but found this disappointing.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It sucked me right in...

OMG.....had me crying the very first chapter. I could not stop listening. What a beautiful and touching story. I felt like I was walking beside each character as the story unfolded. I rarely write reviews but I had to on this one. I felt so attached to the characters. I was sad when it ended. This is the type of book I will carry with me long after having finished it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • TussahSilk
  • 01-05-20

Enjoyable & informative, but in the end, flat

This was a slow-paced, but ultimately entertaining story. I enjoyed learning about Chinese-American history and the immigration process of the day. Without giving anything away, I felt there could have been more tension in the story: it was wrapped up a little too neatly for me. It felt like the author had a deadline to meet and just - stopped.

I read part of this book and listened to the rest on Audible. I found the narrator’s intonation a little off-putting as she tended to use uptalk which made every sentence sound like a question (?). Once I noticed it, I found it hard to ignore.

Whilst I wished for more - a more complex storyline, more tension, and not such an abrupt ending - I would still recommend this book. I can see this being made into a film.

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  • Littleriver
  • 02-25-19

Transports to an intriguing time in history

Thoroughly enjoyed this book despite travelling with the protagonist through some heavy life challenges and much change.
Interesting to watch the main character develop through the obstacles & dilemmas life threw at her and see her mature & blossom from innocent girlhood to competent strong womanhood.