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Posted September 9, 2013
East meets West, as difficult times continue through the main characters lives. It makes it harder and harder and to believe Peilin will have have happiness or success in love. She just seems destined for failure.
The Good Luck Lady is my favorite character of the whole book. She reminds you of a wonderful, enlightened sage. She comes through with the wisdom that old and new times would call for. Times that could help Peilin to ask the important questions to make life more meaningful, real, and clear.
This story shows many different cultural aspects of the Chinese people of the 1930s and Jewish refugees during World War II. The traditional, moralistic old fashioned ways of Peilin's community really makes you smile and also startles you in the next moment. Shanghai Love’s an amazing novel that deserves much recognition for the ability to bring two people of different cultures, different parts of the world, and different religious backgrounds together.
Henri brings so much life to the story. His character, demeanor, and education is everything Peilin's is not. His flee to Shanghai was an inspiration in this book. He knows the knowledge around why things happen and their function. They are a perfect blend. Peilin has a healing quality and Henri learns how to go deeper than what he can learn from intellect. He learns to come from the heart.
Posted July 31, 2013
Shanghai Love by Layne Wong is a masterfully crafted love story. It begins with a young, Chinese girl being prepared for her wedding day, a day that has been arranged since she was a mere child. The scene is beautiful, yet sad, and the reader soon discovers that Peilin’s husband-to-be is dead—he died fighting in the war. Peilin, just seventeen, is to be married to a ghost, forced to leave her family, and become a dutiful daughter-in-law to a tyrannical, self-important woman.
The story soon switches to Henri. The year is 1938, and he is a Jew living in Nazi Germany. Henri is a doctor, like his uncle, running an illegal practice for fellow Jews out of his basement. Foolishly, he tells his lover his secret and is chased out of the country to Shanghai.
Their two stories intertwine when Peilin, who has been taught Chinese medicine, is asked to run the herbal shop owned by her new family in Shanghai. It is here that the Western doctor and the Eastern herbalist meet by chance, and their lives change forever. The road is not an easy one, as Peilin is bound to her familial duty and Henri battles prejudice and guilt.
Wong weaves an intricate tale of two people—so different in many ways and yet so similar in others—overcoming numerous obstacles, both internal and external, to find peace with themselves and each other. The characters are extremely well developed; the culture explored in-depth. The amount of detail to both people and beliefs is staggering. The work discusses important themes such as love (both familial and romantic), culture, prejudice, and self-awareness.
Shanghai Love is both entertaining and informative. The reader will come away with a sense of satisfaction with the resolution of the story as well as an appreciation for the culture and time period of the piece.
Posted July 11, 2013
Layne Wong writes in her author’s note that a novel dealing with a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany in Shanghai deals with an obscure topic. It’s not as obscure as it was once. Prominent mystery writer S.J. Rozan’s Shanghai Moon , published in 2009, brings her Chinese-American detective Lydia Chin to Shanghai to investigate a case involving Jews in Shanghai during World War II. Many readers became aware of World War II Jewish refugees in Shanghai as a result of reading Shanghai Moon.
What I valued most about Shanghai Love was the female central character, Peilin. She might seem weak to many American readers, but she comes from the Chinese cultural matrix where duty to your family comes first. She would not be an authentic character if she simply threw her traditions aside. I also loved the role played by Chinese herbalism and Taoist ritual in this novel.
Henri, the Jewish male protagonist is in some ways fairly typical of his culture of origin. Many German Jews were assimilated, and only loosely affiliated with the Jewish community during this period. Yet I didn’t find him as interesting as Peilin. I respected his dedication as a physician. His openness to Chinese culture was unusual as is shown by the insularity of other Jewish refugees in Shanghai Love. On the other hand, he exhibited a pattern of terrible insensitivity in his personal relationships, beginning with his first love in Germany, that bothered me. I think that the events of the novel forced him to mature eventually, but I would have found Henri more likeable if he had become more empathic earlier.
The resolution was satisfying. It allowed Peilin to feel that she was still behaving correctly by Chinese standards even though she was following her personal inclinations in the Western manner. I was glad that the author gave her a happy ending.
Posted July 11, 2013
Peilin was born into a low class, farming family in China. Her Grandfather Du trained her in the art of healing herbs and arranged a marriage for her with a wealthy pearl farming family. Peilin's betrothed is killed before she is able to marry him. However, the wedding still takes place and she is married to his ghost - becoming part of her husband's family. She receives a letter from her brother, Ping, informing her that the Japanese had invaded and there was a fire at their farm, killing their parents and grandfather. He was going to move to Shanghai for work. Peilin was heartbroken and didn't know how much more she could endure from her mother-in-law when a lucky change comes into her life. An uncle that owned an herbal shop in Shanghai dies. Her father-in-law picks her to go move there to tend to the shop.
Meanwhile, Henri, a jew living in Nazi Germany is forced to flee, finding refuge in Shanghai. He is able to find a job at a hospital and meets a rickshaw cab driver, Ping who he becomes friends with. They teach each other their languages, and when Henri is need of a cure for one of his patients, Ping takes Henri to meet his sister whom he had been reunited with.
A friendship evolves between and Henri starts to learn the Chinese way of herbal remedies. But secrets, war, hone and duty could threaten to tear them all apart forever.
The story is really well written and was a very enjoyable read. The imagery and the feel of the time period really made it come alive and you could really relate to the characters. The pacing of the story didn't rush anything but it also didn't drag or make me get bored. It was a very enjoyable romance that gave a good look into different cultures with memorable characters.
Overall, if you're looking for a beautifully written romance I think you'd want to give this book a try.
Posted July 4, 2013
Shanghai Love is a love story that takes place during World War II in China. There is a Jewish doctor refugee, Henri and a Chinese herbalist, Peilin. They come together through a series of tragic events.
The book opens on Peilin preparing for her wedding day in 1937, going through the ancient Chinese rituals that are expected for every bride to perform. She is marrying a man, who is no longer alive on this earth. He has died while fighting in the war. She is marrying him to show her devotion to his family and her keep their love alive.
While Peilin is being wed, Henri's life is changing drastically as Hitler rises higher into power. He is treated the worst during the war since he is Jewish, but he attempts to stay alive as a doctor and help his neighbors and those he can, along the way. He has found himself in love with an Aryan girl, and it isn't until her father learns of who Henri is, that he needs to find a quick escape out of the country. It's amazing how he flee's because of the fear he feels due to her father in comparison to the fear he feels for the war and the Nazi's.
Henri manages to escape to his friend's jazz club where he meets Sophie, but he is betrayed by her when she turns him in to the Nazi's. Somehow he manages again to escape to Shanghai where they do not have a restriction on Jewish immigrants. He meets a man named Ping, who just so happens to be Peilin's brother.
Now that they have met, they can fall in love and live happily ever after. It's your typical love story. The angle on Jewish refugee's escaping to Shanghai is a fairly new angle on World War II. I haven't read many books discussing this topic, and it was refreshing to see a new perspective on an a part of history that has been repetitive in the past. Not many people read about China's involvement in the war, and I really enjoyed learning a little while I read.
There is a great mix of Chines culture, mixed with the historical tragedies of Jewish refugee's and the pain they went through. I give this book a rating 5/5.
Posted May 14, 2013
In Shanghai Love, Wong constructs a tale of true love in the most unlikely circumstance –World War II China, where a Jewish doctor refugee, Henri, and a traditional Chinese herbalist, Peilin, come together through a tragic series of events. Using this conflict-rich historical setting, Wong weaves a story that reads seamlessly, integrating the personal struggles of Henri and Peilin into a world that insists on tearing them apart. Wong successfully combines the historical tragedies with this story of unfailing love, despite the tragic circumstances, while enlightening the reader on traditions of Chinese culture and providing an alternative perspective on one of the most monumental wars in modern history. Wong has the ability to engage the reader directly, as you absorb the struggles of each character as your own, which she accomplishes through her eloquent language, delicate details and careful consideration of the range of emotions tied with such tragedy. It is a story that transcends cultural bias and war in the most prejudiced, violent period of 20th century history. Shanghai Love is Wong’s first novel, and with it proves her skill as a storyteller and historian as the voice of two cultures that have suffered greatly at the hands of others. Wong links two radically diverse societies through this love story: proving that united in love, it is possible to overcome even the most harsh bigotries and triumph in happiness and peace. Shanghai Love serves as an enduring statement on the undeniable power of love.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2013
I absolutely loved this book. Usually I am the type to not finish a book due to a dragged on story, but Shanghai Love wasn’t like this at all! I couldn't put it down! The storyline plus the twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat. Layne's writing really puts you in the characters shoes and makes you feel their emotions whether they are happy, sad, or scared. You will see the characters experience love, betrayal, tragedy and the honor of family. This story is outstanding and I would recommend it to anyone!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.