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Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai
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Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  42 reviews
The sweeping, multigenerational story of two iron-willed women, a grandmother and granddaughter, Unbound is also a richly textured, turbulent portrait of the city of Shanghai in the twentieth century—a place where everyone must fight to carve out a place for themselves amid political upheaval and the turmoil of war.

​Mini Pao lives with her sister and parents in a pre-war
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
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Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shanghai, 1975. Ting’s grandma, Mini, comes from US to Shanghai on a visit. Curious Ting wants to know what events lead to her grandma’s leaving Shanghai.

1935, Mini’s father works as a clerk at the British consulate and he encourages his both daughter’s to study English as he’d say – you never know what skill you may find useful in the future. Mini reveals her story to Ting.

Mini’s story takes larger portion of the book. Not much is happening in Ting’s story. If the book concentrated on Mini’s st
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unbound is an interesting historical family saga covering a span of time from 1935 to 1980. The book is told through alternating narratives, following Ting, a young women growing up in communist Shanghai and her grandmother, Mimi growing up in pre-communist Shanghai. These women fight the accepted principles of their country/family which enables them to choose the life they want to live.

I don't know much about Chinese history and really enjoyed the author's vivid descriptions of everyday life in
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Smith Publicity, Greenleaf
Book Group and Dina Gu Brumfield for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Unbound: A Tale Of Love And Betrayal
In Shanghai
By: Dina Gu Brumfield


According to Urban Dictionary, unbound means to, "Make your own rules...Live life outside the lines." I think this definition suits Unbound by Dina Gu Brumfield.

Ask me about the history of Shanghai, and I will tell you...nothing. It's a disgrace really
Jee Hooked On Bookz
I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book. The straightforward, clean writing style allowed me to focus on the story and almost immediately I was drawn to Ting and her family’s life in Shanghai, and how they were living during and after Mao’s Cultural Revolution, while Mini and her family on the other hand, were trying to survive the pre-war days of Shanghai in the 1930’s.

The characters were engaging and well developed, and their stories just kept me turning the pages.

Ting and her
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: summer-2020
Do you ever read a book and realize how woefully uneducated you are in a particular subject? Dina Brumfield’s debut novel was that book for me and I fell right into the story and this very new world to me. I found myself asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of Googling to understand this fascinating point in history.

Set in Shanghai, China both before WW2 and after the Communist revolution, Unbound alternates in viewpoints between Mini Pao and her life in the glamorous city in the 1930s and
Annika (whatannikareads)
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this if you like: (WWII-era) historical fiction, multigenerational plot, strong female characters and female-driven plot, getting out of your comfort zone.

Thank you to Greenleaf and NetGalley for the ARC!

This was such a pleasant surprise. I would highly recommend this for anyone who liked "Pachinko."

This story revolves around Ting and her grandmother, Mini. Ting's era is in the 70s/80s, and she lives in Shanghai while Mini lives in Hawaii. When Mini comes to visit Ting and her mother, she r
Veronica Marshall
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unbound is a generational story of growth and love through chinese culture and time jumps between grandmother and granddaughter. Also has pre Mao-zedong to afterwards also brings up how much he effected chinese culture Also how much World War two and japense almost fully taking over china effected life running in general.

Brings up western ideals versus Traditionalism and judgment of those ideas. Journey between Mother and daughter To grandmother and daughter goes on and belief in a strong will a
Jill Dobbe
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An engaging story about a Chinese multi-generational family. I typically do not read historical fiction, but enjoy reading about other cultures. This book centering around the hardships of the women and their individual stories, kept my interest to the very end.

The writing is historical, taking place during the Japanese invasion of China, and flows in a manner that takes readers into the lives of the strong women who are the main focus. I stayed up late many nights reading as I wanted to learn w
C.E. Stokes
*Honest review given for a free copy from Netgalley.*


“Unbound” by Dina Gu Brumfield.
Historical Fiction (Asia)
Publication date of August 4, 2020

When I saw this book on Netgalley, I needed to read it as soon as possible. This book ticked every item on my want list.

History?     Check.
China?       Check. 

Granted, I’m pretty easy to please when those two boxes are checked. But add strong character voice and vivid descriptions that transport me to a foreign world?

I’m in heaven.

The story
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story are told from Ting and her grandmother, Mini point of view. Ting had no idea that she had a grandmother who lives in Hawai until they got a news that she going to come and visit them. I think Mini's era before and during the the war is more interesting than Ting's era. You can see what Mini and her family been through during those hard times. Mini told her life story whenever she return to China to visit Ting so I keep waiting for her to continue her story.

It was an interesting story
Recommended: yes
For a generational story of understanding, for a look at recent historical Chinese eras, for a story that pierces your heart and makes you want only the best for the characters, for a blend of romance and survival and coming-of-age.

This was an elaborate and impressive saga of romance, and survival, and coming-of-age. Ting ages from a child to an adult women in the course of the story, and we see Mini from late teens to her elder years. That span alone is a lot to cover,
Mary Eve
UNBOUND is author Dina Gu Brumfield's riveting debut novel that transports readers to pre-war Shanghai and Mao Rule. This family saga concludes in 1989, as one woman's journey begins. It is a devastating glimpse into lives faced with the uncertainty of war and revolution. In a country that has little regard for the birth of a daughter, women are forced to make difficult sacrifices. Gu Brumfield creates a heartbreaking story of cultural tradition and family loyalty. The characters are stoic, real ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is released on the 4th August 2020.

Lately I have been reading a lot of Japanese and Korean fiction, but not a lot of Chinese fiction, or fiction set in China, and reading this novel highlighted how much of a mistake on my part that is!

Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai tells two stories, one of Ting starting in 1970s Shanghai and the other of Mini, Ting’s grandmother, starting in 1930
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this story! Unbound is a dual time line, multi-generational story of three women caught up in the upheaval in China between the 1930’s-1980’s. The story is told by Ting, and her grandmother Mini.

Mini was raised in a middle-class family in Shanghai, China and came of age in the early 1930’s. Her father was very forward thinking for the time, worked for the British consulate, taught his daughters English, sent them to missionary schools and let them think and make decisions for themselves.
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This historical fiction is set in Shanghai...a multigenerational story, one that starts in 1935 wherein we first come upon Mini Pao, the grandmother who grew up before the Communist revolution. In 1975 we find Ting, the granddaughter growing up in Communist Shanghai as well as Jing Ling, Ting's mother. Up until a visit from her grandmother, who now lives in Hawaii, Ting had no idea she had a grandmother... of course she wants to know everything about her. This story, while it is told through the ...more
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unbound is a enchanting story of three generations of women in China , in and around the city of Shanghai . It follows two narrations, the story of Mini ( the grandmother) during the times of WWII and Ting ( the granddaughter) during the times of Various revolutions in China . The language is very simple , a little too simple for my taste so I was skeptical if I will enjoy it but as I progressed , I found myself completely invested in the storyline and the characters. There are various things wh ...more
This wasn’t a book that immediately grabbed me, & it took two attempts for me to get into the stories being told, but now that it’s over I’m very glad I persevered with it. Unbound follows two generations of a family through two very different women, with two very different lives. It demonstrates the instability of Chinese culture & structure during the last century, & exhibits the strength & resilience of Chinese women. Some parts of this book broke my heart, with a few tears making an appearan ...more
Nancy L.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it

This is an amazing, wonderful and illuminating book, set mostly in Shanghai between the 1930’s and late 1980’s. It tells the alternating stories of young daughter Ting, her mother Jing Ling, and stalwart, brave grandmother Mini, as well as other characters. The book narrative moved well and the story well-written but not floridly so, the first-time author Dina Gu Brumfield having been raised in Shanghai and not a native English speaker. The story is so compelling, though, that this doesn’t count
Sulagna Mondal
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unbound is an multigenerational story of two women growing up amidst political disharmony in Shanghai. This story is about Ting Lee and her grandmother Mini.

In the 1970s, Ting Lee is a young child, and she does not know that she has a grandmother. When one day, she discovers that her grandmother is alive and coming from America to meet her, she becomes the talk of the town. An ever eager child Ting, sees and hears her mother and grandmother fight over betrayal. On approaching the topic to her gr
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was received as an ARC from Greenleaf Book Group Press in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

At first, I did not know what to expect about this book and thought it would be a boring anthology about a grandma and granddaughter surviving Shanghai in the 20th Century all with the war up ahead. This book was actually filled with a lot of drama and conflict that I was able to glue my eyes to the pages and keep reading. Rejecti
Danielle Urban
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unbound by Dina Gu Brumfield is a heartfelt women's fiction story. The story holds three women at the center. The grandmother, the mother, and the daughter are all key. Each one had to learn how to be strong and to survive. The grandmother struggled but didn't give up. The mother did better but her daughter survived the best. The granddaughter is stronger of the three women because she learned from the other two. She is independent and smart.

I loved how family was the central theme in this nove
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Unbound is the story of two women in two very different times, both in Shanghai. One is the story of Ting and the story of how she came of age in the 1970s and beyond. At the tail end of the Communist Revolution, her family has to acclimate to a new government in China and a new way of life. When her grandmother, Mini, comes back from America to visit, Ting learns the story of when Mini was a young woman beginning in the 1920s. The multigenerational nature of this story is reminiscent of Pachink ...more
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This family saga is set against the backdrop of Shanghai from before WWII, through the Communist takeover up through the mid 1980s. At the start Shanghai was a cosmopolitan city full of foreigners, However for the majority of the Chinese population it was a traditional Chinese city. Mini Pao, whose father was an employee in the British Consulate, was a new woman of sorts because her father did not subscribe to the old ways pertaining to women. However Mrs. Pao, her mother, had bound feet so we c ...more
Jul 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you to Greenleaf Book Press and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Available August 4th 2020

Set between the Cultural Revolution and the Shanghai War, Dina Gu Brumfield's "Unbound" is a breathtaking work spanning three generations of Chinese women's lives. From strong willed Mini to her daughter, duty bound Mei to her daughter, skeptical Ting, Brumfield explores what it means to survive as a woman in China. "Unbound" is unflinching and unbiased examination of sex and relationships, ho
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This multi generational story of a family of women in China goes through the British, Japanese occupations, WW2, communism and up to almost the present day and the historical detail is impressive. I saw it took the author ten years to write and I can see why.

At times this was unbearably sad and the challenges that women have faced throughout time (different, but still in many ways the same) was something to reflect on.

Minor improvements for me would be that there were some bits that were slower
Janilyn Kocher
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unbound is a lengthy story, but I relished every word. The author packs a lot of history into the narrative. Starting in the 1930s, through WWII, and China's reopening to the west in the late 20th century. The author weaves two separate stories: Mina and granddaughter Ting. There is much sorrow and hardship. The author provides such rich detail about the food, clothing, and culture of Shanghai. There is one part of the story that was left unfinished and I was disappointed it wasn't resolved. I d ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it liked it
An intense look at Chinese life in the 1930s - 1980s. It is a reminder to look at historical context before making character judgement based on 2020 ideals. It was a bit hard to get through, and I often wanted to stop and take a break when I could tell that a decision a character made was going to have terrible repercussion. It was kinda like reading the Titanic. You know it is going to sink but you keep hoping it will make it anyway. Worth reading, but not a lighthearted book to take to the
Jennifer Schell
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I was in a bit of a reading slump where I felt like I had to read but THIS book made me WANT to read. I am fascinated by Chinese history and I enjoyed learning about life in communist China and post Mao era with Ting's story and reading about Ming's pre-communist Japanese invasion story. I loved the characters I was especially fond of Mr. Pao, Ming's father. I went to the author's website and read that it took the author 10 years to write this and English is her second languag ...more
Kristi Duarte
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's an interesting story about a young woman (Ting) growing up in communist Shanghai in the 1970s and, in parallel, a story about her grandmother (Mini) growing up in the pre-war, pre-communist Shanghai. What makes this book so fascinating is the juxtaposition between the two cultures, and (less prevalent) the sad fate of Ting's mother, who lived all her life under brutal communist rule. ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A very engaging tale spanning three generations of Chinese women. This book gives a historical account of China before, during and after WWII, mostly taking place in Shanghai, and is told in alternating narratives of Ting and her grandmother, Mini. Both women refuse to live bound by the dictates of their country, husbands, or duties. They both forge their own paths through hardship to live the life they choose. It's really a beautiful book. ...more
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Dina Brumfield was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She came to the United States to join her family as a young adult in late ‘80s. After earning her MBA, she worked as a consultant in New York and at various Silicon Valley companies, before quitting to act on her long-held aspiration to write, in English, her second language. It took her 10 years to write and polish Unbound, her debut novel.

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