Customer Reviews for

Shanghai Girls

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

Another Wonderful Book by Lisa See

Once again Lisa See puts us a land we are unfamiliar with and introduces us to wonderful characters who are experiencing life in an unfamiliar land as well. Our schools don't teach much of Chinese history and Lisa's book educates us in the Chinese experience during the...
Once again Lisa See puts us a land we are unfamiliar with and introduces us to wonderful characters who are experiencing life in an unfamiliar land as well. Our schools don't teach much of Chinese history and Lisa's book educates us in the Chinese experience during the 20th century in Shanghai and also Los Angeles. My mother grew up in LA and I remember her stories of the LA she remembered and Lisa captures the multi-national flavor of the era very well. Her story is a compelling tale following two sisters and their love and friendship that only sisters can have. In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa explores the relationships of the "sworn sisters". In Shanghai Girls, the sisters are modern and breaking away from the customs of old China, experiencing the bonds and rivalries of sisters, and coming to live and learn a new country and it's ideas. Sadly the story ends all too soon and we are left wanting more. I had the opportunity to ask Lisa about that and she also would like to see the story continue. We are reading Shanghai Girls for our June book club and I am sure that everyone will love this book as much as we have Lisa See's other books. (Her first three mysteries are wonderful, too. Modern day China and it's changes and challenges are the themes.)

posted by 1312409 on May 4, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

Don't Waste Your Time/Money

A protracted story of 20+ years of un-adulterated misery, where-in the chief intention/payoff is obviously to set up a sequel. You would have to be a real sick puppy to enjoy this book on any level.

posted by 1933373 on October 4, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2009

    Another Wonderful Book by Lisa See

    Once again Lisa See puts us a land we are unfamiliar with and introduces us to wonderful characters who are experiencing life in an unfamiliar land as well. Our schools don't teach much of Chinese history and Lisa's book educates us in the Chinese experience during the 20th century in Shanghai and also Los Angeles. My mother grew up in LA and I remember her stories of the LA she remembered and Lisa captures the multi-national flavor of the era very well. Her story is a compelling tale following two sisters and their love and friendship that only sisters can have. In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa explores the relationships of the "sworn sisters". In Shanghai Girls, the sisters are modern and breaking away from the customs of old China, experiencing the bonds and rivalries of sisters, and coming to live and learn a new country and it's ideas. Sadly the story ends all too soon and we are left wanting more. I had the opportunity to ask Lisa about that and she also would like to see the story continue. We are reading Shanghai Girls for our June book club and I am sure that everyone will love this book as much as we have Lisa See's other books. (Her first three mysteries are wonderful, too. Modern day China and it's changes and challenges are the themes.)

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Shanghai Girls

    Shanghai Girls is a very good read. Sisters Pearl and May are modern and somewhat spoiled girls living in Shanghai in 1937. Working as "beautiful girls", they are hired by artists who paint their pictures for calendars and other advertisements. Although their parents don't approve of this work, Pearl and May are modern young women who enjoy the status and relative wealth these modeling jobs provide.
    All this changes when the girls discover that their father has not only gambled away the family home and fortune, but their earned money as well. To get himself out of debt, their father has sold the girls as brides for two unknown men in America. In the background of all this, Japan has invaded China and is advancing on the city of Shanghai.
    What results is a fascinating story of families torn apart, not just by circumstances but by lies as well. I thought Lisa See did a very good job making the past come to life with this book, just as she did in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (I haven't read Peony in Love...yet). The conflict between the three generations is something everyone can relate too, as is the ignorance of youth. The culture shock the Chinese immigrants experienced in the novel really makes it clear how difficult it is to fit into a new (and sometimes hostile) society.
    The one and only complaint I have about the book is that the story seems to go off the rails a bit at the very end. I almost felt like Ms.See wanted to end the book as abruptly and easily as possible, so she threw that in there. Fortunately, I found the rest of the book so charming and wonderful that the ending did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Good

    This is my second book I read by Lisa See and like the first it was hard to put down. i would recommend it to everyone.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Delightful

    This is my first discovery of Lisa See and I'm eager to read more by this author. Shanghai Girls had all the wonderful elements of fiction - conflict, plot, secrets, dynamic characters - and her readers immediately connect with the two sisters. This piece of wonderfully written historical fiction gives an insightful look into China and Anti-Chinese politics in the United States. I thoroughly enjoyed it and from page one, I could not put down the novel until the very end.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    Don't Waste Your Time/Money

    A protracted story of 20+ years of un-adulterated misery, where-in the chief intention/payoff is obviously to set up a sequel.

    You would have to be a real sick puppy to enjoy this book on any level.

    7 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read!

    Initially, I wasn't sure that I liked this book because I found the main characters, 2 sisters from Shanghai, unsympathetic. They were spoiled and ungrateful. However, Lisa See, redeemed herself by painting a picture of the Japanese invasion of China and the ensuing tragedies sparked by the sisters flight from their home. The author does a good job illustrating their new lives in the United States and ultimately the epiphanies that result from truth! I recommend this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Insight into Sisterly Love

    This book is an excellent study of the emotional bonds that tie sisters together. While the two main characters love each other deeply the reader will gain insight into what types of wedges can also be present in such a relationship. And along the way the reader will learn some things about Chinese culture. You cannot help but be intrigued by all these two women go through. I will admit that the ending of this book felt a bit abrupt. But after reading this book I was inspired to read another of Lisa See's works.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lots of potential...but...disappointing in the end

    Lisa See is a good writer who always provides rich descriptions that take readers right to the moment she's describing. Overall, the book is pretty depressing, but demonstrates personal triumph over adversity. The ending is VERY DISAPPOINTING. The book should have been Shanghai Girls: Part One. I couldn't believe it when I clicked to the last page; I thought perhaps the entire book hadn't downloaded. A sequel is a must because the story is incomplete. Note to author: Please don't do this to us again.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Bother

    This book was an overwhelming disappointment to me. I have forever been in love with Ms. See's novels...Snow Flower and the Secret Fan mesmerized me. Peony In Love enraptured me, but Shanghai Girls frustrated me beyond belief with tragedy after tragedy...selfishness, and just plain ignorance from each and every character. It was tedious. Then, to dedicate myself to reading the entire novel and to arrive at an ending so DEAD, just managed to seal my convictions of the book. Poorly done Ms. See. It's not a book I would recommend to my Book club, nor to anyone else for that matter. Sad, because I couldn't say enough positive things about your first two novels...Hopefully you'll be able to redeem yourself in your next novel.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Terrible writing for a plot with potential

    I live in California and have spent time in Shanghai, so I was very excited about this book. I had not read Lisa See before, but heard from others about her previous books, which were highly recommended. Admittedly, I am a book snob - I like my literature complex, unpredictable, thoughtful, and challenging. This book is none of the above: the writing is simplistic and childish, the author expects insultingly little of her readers, and she tells, tells, tells (!) the reader everything. There is no craft in this authorship. If the author cannot put the effort into her work, I cannot put the effort into reading it. I have no idea how this got past the editor's desk and onto bookshelves. The plot had potential, but the writing crashes and burns.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    Loved It!!!

    Lisa See writes in a way that I can picture what and where the story is. I thoroughly enjoy her style and the historical significance.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2009

    LISA SEE'S BEST BOOK YET!!!

    Lisa See's books seem to be more interesting and intriguing with each story that she writes! In SHANGHAI GIRLS, the China experience moves to America in 1935, with the immigration of two sisters, and the family that they marry into in Las Angeles. With these two sisters we experience finding ways out of war torn China amongst other frightened people. We are cascaded from one situation to another as the sisters spend four months tied in the morass of the immigration process. As the sisters marry brothers, we see how the family's expectations differ for each woman. We see the dreams and aspirations of each woman grow and change in their new surroundings. The blending of Chinese life with the new American ways of the Chinese-Americans and the non Chinese-Americans is an experience worth reading in itself. BUT, mostly this book is about families, and especially the special relationship that exists between sisters. Whether you are interested in learning more about Chinese-American history, or are just interested in a great story of sisters supporting each other in their trials, sorrows, and joys of life, you will find this a thoroughly enjoyable read. What is really amazing is how different these sisters' lives may be from yours, but how similarly they live and love as you do, regardless of your particular cultural heritage. A must read for book groups!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Shanghai Girls

    This book was really good. A little hard to get into at first, but after the first couple chapters, I was hooked. The characters were very well portrayed and the story line was excellent and full of surprises. We need a sequel. Pearl needs to find Joy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2009

    great book

    I love reading her books, it takes me back in time and puts you right in the book with the other characters. I visited China a couple of years ago. The country and language fascinate me and reading these books gives me a little piece of China every time I read them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    A lesson in culture and history

    This is a great book. Yet, I have to give it only 4 stars. I was captivated by the beginning especially the 1930s Chinese culture (all descriptions create quite vivid images). Unfortunately, once the story moved to the United States the plot seemed rushed. The ending caught me by surprise as well - I felt the book needed a couple more chapters to finish its tale.
    Regardless, this is truly a great book. I would recommended it to anyone who has interest in Chinese culture or just would like to explore relationships/social interactions between people from the middle of the twentieth century.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2013

    Shanghai Girls tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, wh

    Shanghai Girls tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May, who lived the exquisite life in Shanghai, China. The year is 1937 and things are going well in China in this period.  Pearl is considered the smart sister, she's the one who's responsible for her sister.  She's fluent in four languages, including the secret language she and her parents use, the Sze Yup dialect.  Her Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon, which is known to be the most powerful of signs.  May is known as the beautiful one and she loves to live the carefree life.  She's the girl who likes to have fun here and there.  May's Chinese Zodiac sign is the Sheep, according to their mother, the Sheep thinks only of itself and its own comforts.  May can get pretty much what she wants by persuading her father in a way her sister can't.  The main conflict is how the two sisters try to fit in America.  They go through many hardships and face bad times through the years of World War II and the Communist War.  One specific plot event is how Pearl has to be the mother of May's child.  Back then, it would've been considered very bad if a girl was to known to be with child with another man.  Even if she was married and the child was not the husband's.  This important key event implies how Pearl has to be the mother and daughter-in-law while May gets to go out.  This act lasts for many years to come.  Although, Pearl has mixed feelings of this act, May wishes she could be Pearl.  Their relationship as sisters is complicated but one can understand about these two.  Another plot event is that they learn to keep quiet about who their family really is.  If the secret were to get out, the family could get deported back to China.  Anything could happen to these two sisters, at any time that is.  They don't want to be sent back to China, times are changing over there.  China even has a major impact on America's thinking of them over the years.  The thought of China is affected by discrimination and the family is aware of this situation.
    What I liked about the book was of Pearl's character throughout her stay in America.  She's been very obedient to her in-laws and she's also been observant of her surroundings.  Pearl describes the events that are happening with such detail and displays imagery.   Her character might be more likable to readers as she has these heartfelt and sad moments.  People might be able to relate to her role as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, or a daughter-in-law.  She is a very strong character and has went through so much she didn't deserve to go through.  Pearl loves her sister more than anything and would strive for anything.  Even though she's jealous of her sister, May, they will always remain best friends even if their hair turns white.  An important aspect of her is how she was in love with an artist, Z.G.  He was more sought after her sister and she didn't realize this until later.  The main thing I disliked about this book was of what happened to Pearl and her mother in the shack.  That night changed Pearl's life psychologically, emotionally and physically.  Pearl still thinks of what happened to her but there is something revealing about her.  She went to go check in on her mother and suffered the same.  It was a sign of respect as said by her, the supreme act of filial piety.  If there was a way to reverse time, Pearl definitely would. This life-changing event stays on her mind and comes up during certain times in the book.  I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who's ready to read a book filled with hope, despair, grieve, love, and happiness.  There are some moments where you could relate to or understand about.  So much is revealed of each character in the story.  Some graphic content is included , anything unexpected or disturbing could happen.  A person who is matured enough can read this book, as stated above, because there are some adult content as well.  Even if is 300 or so pages, you feel as if you embarked on this journey with two sisters.  You have went through what they went through and learned so much about them.  Pearl and May are both strong, they faced aplenty. Twenty-one years is a large expansion of time of their lives.  It is but one long journey, that the two inseparable sisters had traveled.  They would always remember a time when things were much simpler.  However, their stay in America has shaped and molded them into something stronger.  Even though the two sisters are from Shanghai, they have learned to become Americans in the long run.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2012

    LISA SEE, WHAT A WONDERFUL SET OF BOOKS. I HAVE ENJOYED SHANGHA

    LISA SEE, WHAT A WONDERFUL SET OF BOOKS. I HAVE ENJOYED SHANGHAI GIRLS SO VERY MUCH. IT WAS A TWO DAY READ. I COULD PICTURE THE COUNTRY AND THE HARDSHIPS OF THAT TIME PERIOD IN MY MIND JUST LIKE I WAS THERE.
    I HAVE ALSO READ THE DREAMS OF JOY, AND SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. PEONY IN LOVE IS MY NEXT BOOK.
    SNOW FLOWER WAS A BEAUTIFUL BOOK ABOUT THE LOVE OF TWO WOMEN AS BEST FRIENDS AND HOW DIFFERENT THEIR
    LIVES BECAME. READ THEM ALL, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. I PLAN TO READ THEM ALL IN TIME.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The essence of sisters through thick and thin!

    This was a beautifully portrayed story of sisters--very different from one another in so many ways. Through their good and bad days in China and America, they held onto each other and made sacrifices only sisters can understand. Lisa See most assuredly did her job researching the history of both China and Los Angeles during the time period she created. You could feel the sadness, anxiety, and fear as she spun this tale. The bright spots and loyalty were poignantly woven as well. I can't help wondering if there will be (or is--and I shall look) a continuation of this story in another book as Pearl searches for her daughter, Joy. Bravo! I learned quite a bit of history in this emotional story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Nations Acting Badly

    To follow Pearl and May from Shanghai to Los Angeles in 1937 is to track the millions of female victims of wars. As if terror, hunger and danger aren't enough, the women suffer rape and humiliation. They run from Chinese gangs only to encounter the warring Japanese.

    Landing in the U.S. offers a new set of challenges: strange food, incarceration, discrimination and the daily frustration of analyzing the political and social winds in a country sure to go to war.

    Pearl and May, each in their own way, succeed; they love and laugh and get a stake in their new country.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lisa See Does it again!

    This was another absolutely beautifully written work by Lisa See. I was captured by the 1st page & had a very hard time putting the book down. It is a glimpse into Chinese & American History during the 1930's & 1940's: pre & during WWII. The Shanghai sisters escape from Shanghai, the city they loved & the journey through all the hardships they lived through to grasp part of the "American Dream" is a poignant story of the strength of women & the ties that bind sisters!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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