Louise's Reviews > Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
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Mar 13, 13

bookshelves: china-fic-lit, fiction, historical-fiction
Read in September, 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed Lisa See's "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" "Peony in Love". I respect the talent and effort that goes into this kind of work. See now demonstrates a grasp of the people, times, and especially, the role of women in not just two complex periods of Chinese history, but three.

With this, her latest book, I was blown away. This is a page turner with a lot of substance within the high interest action.

While I don't know how realistic the Shanghai story could be, it seemed very real and fit within what I know of the time. The writing in the Angel Island story made the incredible events believable. The next part, for which I have more knowledge, seemed utterly real.

While a few reviews here have panned the ending, I think it was as good as it was seamless. Finally, you have the voice of May. What she says is fully forshadowed in the narrative. Joy digests the hopes and dreams of her family in a way they never would expect. In the ending See digests the 20th century Chinese diaspora in all its complexity. I could be more specific here, but it would reveal the story.

There is so much food for thought here. The Shanghai sisters face trauma unknown to most readers of this book. They cope in ways that complement and use one another. Their shared secrets, trauma and heroism is unknown to passers on the street, their husbands, "their" daughter and the world around them.
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