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Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  92,452 ratings  ·  7,653 reviews
In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having th ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 506 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Random House Large Print (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eileen Souza
I'm re-rating this book up to 4 stars, but with the contingency that it must be read with Dreams of Joy. When read in conjunction with the second book, this book is excellent - really emotionally powerful. Without the second book, you'll be horribly disappointed with the the last 20 pages - and wishing for 350 more. my original review is still below.

Re-reading 5/2011 in prep for the second book Dreams of Joy. In retrospect, my review is fairly prophetic. I'm so glad there's more to the s
Feb 23, 2009 Larry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: lisa-see
Lisa’s See’s new novel, Shanghai Girls, provides a rich experience for its readers – taking them from the splendor, highlife, glamour and poverty of 1937 Shanghai to the struggles of Chinese immigrants to survive a virtual internment on Angel Island, off the coast of San Francisco, to the almost impossible challenges of trying to build a life in Los Angeles Chinatown in the context of an America that does not want them and treats them cruelly.

But despite its rich background, Shanghai Girls is ul
This was the third book I've read by this author and I'm still confused as to my feelings for her writing. The first book I read, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I loved. I think it was all the descriptions and information about the cultural nuances, including foot binding. Then, I was excited to read, Peony in Love, until I actually started it. Then, I thought maybe this book would turn the tide either way. Unfortunately, I'm still ambivalent. It was an interesting enough story: two "modern" si ...more
Linda Smith
This book was very disappointing. I went into it eager to learn about this point in history and this should have been a good book considering the premise of the story. I think it started out well and the family and events in China held my interest and seemed well-defined. Still, the tragedies never felt that compelling, and even what should have outraged me when they arrived in the US, never had the impact they would have if better written. I should have gotten angry, I should have cried, I shou ...more
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Sep 09, 2010 Lyn (Readinghearts) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne, Donna, Cam, Leslye, Mary
I fell in love with Lisa See's writing a few years ago when I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. As such, I was really looking forward to reading Shanghai Girls when it came out. Initially though, people began saying that it did not compare. So it was with trepidation that I began reading this book, afraid that I would be disappointed. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. All I can say is that Lisa See has another hit on her hands with this wonderful story of two sisters who emigrate from Shanghai to America ...more
Helen Dunn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm going to have to admit that I stayed up 'til all hours of the night to read this book. But, that being said, I also have to say that in my opinion it's not a very good book at all. The plot is rollicking (the main characters, formerly wealthy girls in Shanghai, must escape both gangsters and the Japanese; then they go to California to join the men they've wed, first coping with a grueling and prolonged interrogation process on Angel Island; get involved in the movie business and the tourist ...more
Lisa See brings out my finest emotions. The array of words is sown deep in my mind without the fear of being uprooted. I have a younger sister; never liked when she was born. I was extremely envious of her robbing all the parental attention. Over the years through our subtle rivalries and treacherous fights we grew closer and protective of each other. Although she is four years younger than me, I feel maternal towards her, trying every possible way to shelter her happiness and smile. I do not be ...more
This is the second Lisa See novel that I've read, and both times when I've finished her books I've felt vaguely duped. There's so much historical detail in here, much of it grim, that I feel like I must be reading something sweeping and important. But the character-driven parts of the plot (often about tensions and jealousies in close female relationships) remind me more of...Danielle Steel, maybe? Dare I say it? Something kind of primal and potboiler-y and not too nuanced. So and so is the pret ...more
I'm sorry to say that I thought this book was horrible. As a huge fan of Snowflower and the Secret Fan and of the beautiful characters, beautifully described scenery, tragedies, hardships, and the deep bonds between the characters within it, I went into this book hoping for something of the same. I felt the character development in this book was forced, I thought the story was all over the place, and there was never and deep understanding of the people within it. Maybe it's because I never ident ...more
Good, solid read. Strong storytelling. She's clever to have kept mentioning that the girls' English was 'perfect' because this helped with voice authenticity. Otherwise, the narrative would have seemed too Americanized. On the other hand, I felt let down by the last quarter of the book, and completely nonplussed by the ending. It all felt rushed, as if she was running to the end, and not entirely believable. In fact, I DIDNT's believe it! It just doesn't seem real that in the 1950s a young Chine ...more
Kelly Ohl
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Kim Wright
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Sarah ( Paris )

من الصعب التعبير عن هذه الرواية بالكلمات ..
فهي طويلة جدا ..
الرواية من ثلاثة أقسام .
1- القدر
2- الحظ
3- المصير

وعبارة عن سرد لحياة كاملة .. عبر ثلاثة أجيال ..
للأختين بيرل وماي.
ولاحقا ( ابنتهما ) جوي
تبدأُ أحداثٌ الرواية في العامْ 1937 م وحتى الستينيات ..
لن أستطيع ان اكتب أكثر من هذا فالرواية لن يكفيها مراجعة واحدة ..
فهي طويلة جدا..
تقترب من 500 صفحة

ومليئة بالتفاصيل والتواريخ حيث نرى حياة الشقيقتين وعائلة السيد لوي اليومية..
جنبا إلى جنب مع أخبار الحرب العالمية والصراعات بين الصين واليابان والصين
I have really mixed feelings about this book, it's almost like the book is horrible and beautiful at the same time. The book is told from the perspective of the oldest of two beautiful Chinese sisters growing up in Shanghai during the 1930's. They live a pampered life until suddenly their father loses everything and sells them as brides to two young men from America to repay a debt. The book follows the sisters as they are forced to flee from their native country and find refuge in the home of t ...more
I picked this one up per a friend's suggestion. I love works of well-crafted historical fiction and a woman in Barnes & Noble said that I might enjoy the novel if I liked Memoirs of a Geisha (one of my absolute favorites).

I had never read any of Lisa See's other works. With Shanghai Girls, she clearly did her homework. There are plenty of authenticating details and the novel touches upon interesting aspects of Chinese/American history that I feel not many would know much about otherwise.

Eva Shang
This is quite possibly the most depressing book I have ever read.

I understand that this happened to a lot of people during World War II, the whole rape-sad-escape-sad-angelisland-sad-babydies-sad-ostracized-sad-husbanddies-sad...but dude the entire book is sad and depressing.

The thing is, it's not even sad in a beautiful, emotional way. It's not sad that it will make me cry. It's sad because I'm horrified and angered and all shivery from the horrific scenes painted in such great detail. It's s
There's a phrase in Chinese, chi ku (eat bitterness), which Lisa See's Shanghai Girls exemplifies perfectly. From one end of the book to the other, there's nothing but hardships and heartaches.

The first hardship I found is not actually in the story in the novel, but comes from the novel itself. See writes in the first person through the voice of Pearl, a girl growing up in Shanghai during the volatile Sino-Japanese war. Unfortunately, Pearl seems too self-aware of other people's thoughts, motive
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
This book is good, but why is it that folks don't TELL each other stuff? Is it because it makes for a better story? You get a climax when folks find out EVERYTHING in a gush of anger and such.
It' can't be healthy.

I still like this book, but I need to add the fact that does old school China HAVE to be so sad?
Even in the US these poor women get such a raw deal, especially Pearl. Her life sucked the most! All that stuff happens to her in Shanghai, they are practically enslaved by that old man. They
Z Russo
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Elizabeth Craig
Dec 21, 2012 Elizabeth Craig rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like asian literature, culture, and dynamic stories.
I really loved this book, it's one of my favorites and a must-read if you like asian literature. Lisa See builds a great story that spans over the 18 or so years that this novel takes place. At the beginning Pearl and May seem like rebellious teenage girls but soon have to grow up into young independent women because of their father's mistakes. Through all their hardships Pearl and May maintain that strong sisterly bond but, as any pair of sisters, they know how to get on each other's nerves and ...more
I have to say that writing this review actually pains me. I love Lisa See and I respect her artistry and her unique narrative voice. I’ve enjoyed all of her books and I truly wanted to love "Shanghai Girls." Unfortunately, though, I found this to be a rather lackluster novel.

Lisa’s writing, as always, flows beautifully. Her characters are complex and her grasp of Asian cultural mores is astounding. I wish I could pinpoint exactly what didn’t "work" for me, but the novel, as a whole, seemed long
العمل الروائيّ الطويل \ المتماسك \ المشوّق حتى آخر حرف لا يتأتّى لأي روائي ؛ وإن حصل فإنه لا يتكرر مرتين متتاليني!!
فتاتان من شنغهاي ثاني عمل روائي أقرأه للكاتبة الجميلة ليزا سي وثاني عمل أنبهر به لاختلافه وروعة سرده ..
في عملها الأول ركزت على الصين كوطن لكن في العمل الثاني ركزت على الصين كبلد مهجّر لأبنائه لأسباب اقتصادية \ سياسية في الفترة التي سبقت استيلاء الشيوعيين وحكومة ماو تسي على أجزاء كبيرة منها ..
وبما أن الكاتبة أمريـ\صينيّة فقد برعت في كشف الكثير عن الصينيين في بلاد المهجر..

خمسة أن
Aik Chien 인첸
Pearl and May are two young, beautiful girls living in the modernized Shanghai. Everything seems to be perfect until their father tells them that he is broke and has to sell both her daughters to Gold Mountain Men (Chinese men living overseas who comes back in search for Chinese brides). They are arranged to embark for San Francisco, but Pearl throws away their tickets, insisting that she does not want to live her life with a man she does not love.

The bond between Pearl and May is special and st
Shanaghai Girls a novel by Lisa See tells the story of twenty one year old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May . Both girls are modern and carefree living in 1937 shanaghai the Paris of Asia until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have travelled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city Pearl and may set out on a journey of a lifetime.

This b
(3.5 stars)

Shanghai Girls is a historical novel that covers twenty years in the life of Pearl and her sister, May, as they move from a life of privelege to poverty to escaping Japanese attacks on Shanghai. They are sold in marriage to a couple of Chinese-American brothers and travel to Los Angeles by way of Angel Island in San Francisco. Once in LA, they experience prejudice, poverty and segregation.

The book was a quick and easy read, but I don't think it benefited from that. It really needed t
This book had so many twists and turns, I read it practically in one sitting. All in all, I was entertained!

However, the writing style didn't seem authentic to me. Even though the book is mostly set in the early-mid 20th century, the narrator seems to speak to the reader in modern discourse, and every once in a while, a dialog is peppered with typical phrases of the times. Worse than that, is how forced all of the historical details are sewn into the story. It was sort of like having a conversa
First of all, I have to get something off my chest. The previous Lisa See books I've read have not had a picture of the author on the jacket. This is her third book with a Chinese setting and Chinese characters. Her last name sounds like it could be Chinese, right? So I've been picturing a Chinese author all these years. This book jacket has a picture, and guess what? Not Asian. Not a huge deal, but interesting nonetheless.

Shanghai Girls is the story of May and Pearl, two spoiled and educated gi
I swear I didn't just pick up this book becaue the main character's name was Pearl Chin. All right, that was part of it, but I also just found the premise -- about two Shanghai sisters leaving their glitzy city lifestyle behind to immigrate to Los Angeles's Chinatown in the 1930s -- impossible to refuse. Growing up in a heavily Asian American town and now living in a profoundly diverse one, I'm fascinated by any story that sheds light on what the minority experience was really like for early Chi ...more
Linda Hart
The novel begins in 1937 Shanghai with 2 sisters in a prosperous Chinese family who are quickly plunged into lives of great adversity, desperation, and heartache. They emigrate to the U.S. where they are detained at Angel Island, San Francisco, and the story is concluded in China Town, L.A. 1957. This is a compelling story, beautifully told with so many threads woven together into a marvelous historical novel. Apparently Lisa See, the author, is writing a sequel which I look forward to reading. ...more
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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

More about Lisa See...

Other Books in the Series

Shanghai Girls (2 books)
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2) Peony in Love China Dolls On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family

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“May and I are sisters. We'll always fight, but we'll always make up as well. That's what sisters do: we argue, we point out each other's frailties, mistakes, and bad judgment, we flash the insecurities we've had since childhood, and then we come back together. Until the next time. ” 149 likes
“We hug, but there are no tears. For every awful thing that's been said and done, she is my sister. Parents die, daughters grow up and marry out, but sisters are for life. She is the only person left in the world who shares my memories of our childhood, our parents, our Shanghai, our struggles, our sorrows, and, yes, even our moments of happiness and triumph. My sister is the one person who truly knows me, as I know her. The last thing May says to me is 'When our hair is white, we'll still have our sister love.” 129 likes
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