The Painter From Shanghai is a brilliantly written fictional biographical account of the life of Chinese artist Pan Yuliang.
Before picking this book u...moreThe Painter From Shanghai is a brilliantly written fictional biographical account of the life of Chinese artist Pan Yuliang.
Before picking this book up, I had no clue whatsoever who Pan Yuliang was. By the end of the book, I not only felt as though I had gotten to know her somewhat intimately, but I also immediately went online to find and admire some of her work.
Woven throughout the book is an entirely believable 'personal' first person fictional account of Yuliang's life - the tragedy of her childhood, identifying herself as an artist, and struggling to learn the craft, despite maybe obstacles that come her way. I truly felt as though I was right there with her during her journey.(less)
It is a story that is tragic, beautiful & haunting. I became so absorbed in it, that I felt as though I were a ghost watching it unfold before my...moreIt is a story that is tragic, beautiful & haunting. I became so absorbed in it, that I felt as though I were a ghost watching it unfold before my eyes. The friendship between Lily & Snow Flower, which is the main focus of the book, is completely wrapped up in the traditional world of the women in China during the 1800's, which allows the author to really weave a story that is interesting, as well as culturally educational.
Lisa See's ability to use words to create a believable atmosphere is phenomenal. It is not just descriptive of the relationships & the setting, but poetic & captivating. In this book, See is able to tell a story that is both modern & historic, describing a friendship that is formed by historic traditions centuries ago, but that any modern woman could relate to & understand.
It is an emotional journey, filled with sadness, heartbreak, love, friendship, and hope. It has definitely taken it's place in my heart as one of my favourite books ever.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is the second novel by Lisa See that I have had the pleasure of reading, and though I did not enjoy it quite as much as the fir...more**spoiler alert** This is the second novel by Lisa See that I have had the pleasure of reading, and though I did not enjoy it quite as much as the first (Snow Flower & the Secret Fan), I was not disappointed.
Weirdly enough, it was a recommendation by Amazon for "Shanghai Girls", which I have yet to read, that brought to my attention Lisa See's work. I thought it sounded interesting, so added it to my wishlist, and then started browsing through her other work. That is when I came upon both "Snow Flower & the Secret Fan", as well as "Peony in Love". Both of these books caught my interest immediately. Though they both share some common attributes, such as their cultural relevance & discriptiveness, they are quite different.
I found "Peony in Love" harder to get into. The story starts off at a slower pace, but as you get further into the story you realize why, as the simple start to the story is the anchor that ties it all together. The pay-off with this novel is to stick with it. As you get past the beginning, a different world of Chinese belief & tradition is explored than that in "Snow Flower & the Secret Fan"; the afterlife.
Though the plot of the novel is about how Peony dies, and how she continues to watch & influence the lives of those left behind, that is not what I personally felt was the basis of the novel, rather that it is the catalyst for the exploration of the beliefs the people of China have about life, death & the afterlife. The way the world of the dead & the living is intertwined in this novel is a remarkable glimpse into the traditions and beliefs of the Chinese people concerning death. See was able to achieve this while also telling an amazing & historically significant story based on something that really occured.(less)
I had a hard time both reading and rating this. I feel like I should at least add some sort of comment since I am the first person to add or read this...moreI had a hard time both reading and rating this. I feel like I should at least add some sort of comment since I am the first person to add or read this on goodreads, despite the fact that the book was published 20 years ago.
Some of the profiles were more interesting than others. A lot of them just dragged on - it took more than three weeks to get through this book, because I just could not sit down and read much of it for very long. It was too tedious, and the profile of one person to the next just started to bleed into each other. It probably didn't help that people with similar jobs were grouped together - you read about three scientists back to back, and it's hard to remember who worked where and on what. Sadly, if one random persons name was picked out of the book, I doubt I could remember exactly who they were.
I found the profiles of the older people to be much more interesting. The profiles seemed less focused on the person's job and career accomplishments, and more on their actual experiences in China and coming to Canada, and what that was like for them. I expected the book to be more focused on that, instead it felt more like reading career profiles for most of the people. I think the idea was interesting, but in the end the book just fell flat.
While I did enjoy the photos and the general presentation of the book, I also felt like the book itself made it hard to read for long periods of time - it was hard covered, and while not thick, the dimensions were larger and the book was really heavy, so it made it awkward to hold and read comfortably.(less)