Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shanghai Girls (and giveaway)

Shanghai Girls
by Lisa See
336 pages

*** About the Book ***

Shanghai in the 1930s was known as the "Paris of Asia"; sisters Pearl and May are living in the heart of it and enjoying every minute. They consider themselves thoroughly modern girls - with their French fashions, short hair, and modeling jobs - despite the fact that their father is new to his wealth and their mother has bound feet. Modernity is wretched from their grasps however, when their father arranges marriages for the sisters in order to get himself out of debt to the local crime lord. Pearl and May are forced to marry two brothers who are emigrating to San Fransisco, and as wives they are, of course, expected to emigrate as well. But before they can board a ship to join their husbands in America the Japanese attack China and the world is plunged into chaos. Will Pearl and May escape the Japanese invasion? How will they get to San Fransisco? And when they get there will they find the life of privilege they were promised?

*** Why I Read It ***

I've been hearing for quite a while what a wonderful writer Lisa See is but I'd never read any of her books. When SHANGHAI GIRLS went on a blog tour with TLC Books I figured I'd give it a shot and see what all the fuss was about.

*** My Thoughts ***

This is a really good book! I'll have to agree with the crowd - Lisa See can write a heck of a good story. I read this over 2 days while I was down with strep throat (yuck); I was so invested in the story that I didn't want to put it down.

There are a lot of things I enjoyed about this book so I think a list will work best here.
  • Sisters - The relationship between Pearl and May is one that anyone with a sister can relate to. It is THE biggest strength of the book. Their tremendous love and concern for each other, wrapped around jealousy and misunderstanding, all tied with more strings of attachment than you can count ... all I can say is WOW ... how true it is. (In case my sister is reading this, love you 'Cole!)
  • Characters - The main characters in this story are fully developed and dynamic. The secondary characters are not as developed but they are not flat either. I loved watching how the characters' relationships changed over time as their perspectives on each other - and on life in general - changed.
  • History in China - I know very little about Chinese history in any era so I really enjoyed the history lessons I got from this book. The descriptions of life in Shanghai during this time period were complete revelations to me - I had no idea about any of this stuff.
  • History in the US - Because I'm an East Coast gal I'm naturally more familiar with the history that happened on my side of the US. I know a bit about San Fransisco, Angel Island, and Chinatown, but only just a little (ask me about Ellis Island and I can give you quite a history!). This book was truly an education for me, and I loved learning as I read.
This was the book I chose for my contribution to my book club's Christmas book swap. My sister ended up with it (how perfect is that?!) and I know she is going to love it when she gets a chance to read it.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Are you already a Lisa See fan? If so, which of her books is your favorite? If not, is she one of those authors you've been meaning to try out? Does SHANGHAI GIRLS appeal to you?

Here are a few others reviews you might want to check out:

*** Giveaway ***

Thanks to the publisher I have a copy of this book for one lucky blog reader in the US or Canada. Here's how to enter:
  • Leave a comment telling me why this book appeals to you.
  • Be sure to leave your email address or have it easily accessible through your profile.
  • You must have a US or Canadian mailing address to win (sorry, this is the publisher's requirement).
  • If you win you must reply to my email notification within 24 hours or I will choose another winner.
  • The winner will be drawn on Friday morning (01/29/10) so enter now!


A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I recently read Snow Flower and fell in love with See's writing. I can't wait to read another one! Thanks for the giveaway.


Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I have this book on my wish list, and would just love to it.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Linda said...

Several reasons why this book appeals to me: 1.its beautiful cover, 2.loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, nephew lives in Shanghai. Thanks for the giveaway.

Nancye said...

This book appeals to me because I am interested in China (also because my daughter was born there--adopted)

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Suey said...

If Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is any indication, I know I would love this one too! (No email here since you already have it.)

Unknown said...

I also read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan recently, and it was really good. I like Ms. See's writing style.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Erika Robuck said...

Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan still haunts me. It was a beautiful, brave book. Like great historical fiction, through story, it taught me so much about a time and culture I didn't know.

Great review!

Serena said...

No need to enter me in the giveaway. Loved this book!

bermudaonion said...

For this to keep your interest while you were battling strep throat really says something. I'm glad you're better and glad you enjoyed the book! No need to enter me.

Anonymous said...

This book appeals to me because I've been intrigued with Shanghai ever since I was a young girl. I got very excited when I heard about this book. Please enter my name in your draw. wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Cyndel said...

Hi! I would lover to win this book! It appeals to me because I set a New Year's Resolution to read 50 books this year, and I want the list to be diverse. Please enter me in your contest:
crtaylor at spartans dot manchester dot edu

Kaizen Fashion Project said...

The story sounds great! I would love to win + read it!

Kailana said...

I really need to read this book. I have owned it since it came out, but haven't got around to reading it yet.

christa @ mental foodie said...

want to read this one because I have 2 sisters :)

email is cytljjb @ gmail . com

btw - love your review format!

Anonymous said...

Like everybody else, I just loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and I am curious about Lisa's latest work.

Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

misfitsalon [at] gmail [dot] com

Lisa said...

I thought I was the only person left that hadn't read any Lisa See. Seems like this is the one to get started with! I love books about sisters--always trying to figure out my relationship with my sister!


alexa said...

Alexa Nernberg

Hi, I have not read anything by Lisa See before, but you have piqued my interest with your write-up. I would love to read this book. Please enter my name in your giveaway. Thanks very much.

Aimee said...

First, the cover is incredible. That alone would force me to stop in the book store & pick it up. And the story sounds great. Love books about other cultures. Thanks for the fabulous giveaway


Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this book not to mention the cover is beautiful. I'd love to read it myself.


Bcteagirl said...

I have always been interested in how a childs sign and/or cast (China, India, etc) can have such a large impact on the rest of their lives. I would love to read more about it :) Thank you for running this great contest!

teagirl1 at telus dot net

Aik said...

I've always loved to read books about life in China, especially a woman's. I've read both Snow Flower and Peony, and I love them!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Alyce said...

This is the only Lisa See book that I've read so far, and I really enjoyed it. The relationship between the sisters does make the book. I also loved how the author shows how the sisters experience the same events and interpret them so differently.

No need to enter me. :)

Dreamybee said...

This sounds like a great read. I wonder if Japan looked at a map before they decided to invade China- that is a bold move!

No need to enter me-I'll pay for it at my library one of these days! LOL.

Sue said...

I love Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and I'd love to read this one as well. I've heard great things! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

skkorman said...

I haven't read any of See's books yet but the reviews of Shanghai Girls have been great!

Athira said...

Glad that you enjoyed this! I am definitely looking forward to reading this some time. I'd like to take part in the giveaway.

readingonarainyday AT gmail DOT com

LisaMM said...

Hi Heather! Great review. I've loved all the Lisa See books I've read but my favorite remains the first one I read, Snow Flower.

I'm sorry to hear you had strep throat! That recently whipped through our house but thankfully I didn't catch it.

Thank you so much for all the time spent reading and reviewing Shanghai Girls. It is very much appreciated!

mindy said...

because it looks like a fascinating read thanks minsthins at otonline dot net

jemscout425 said...

i love books based in chinese culture.

kakihara said...

Yes please, I've actually been ignoring it--I didn't think it would be something I would be interested in--but I loved your review--it made me want to read it!! Thanks for the opportunity to discover a fabulous writer.

Mia J. said...

I really enjoyed snow Flower and the Secret Fan and would like to read this one as well. thanks for the chance.

2twins said...

Actually, your review interested me in reading this book. The story really interests me, and the history is a bonus.

Nelsby said...

Thanks so much for hosting this fabulous giveaway - I would be SO thrilled to win! This book really appeals to me because I just loved Memoirs of a Geisha.
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

Susan said...

this book is on my wishlist, it would be great to win!

Kelly said...

I'm interested because I love stories that take place in the 30s & 40s. I'm also pretty unfamiliar with a lot of Chinese culture, and I'd love a glimpse into it.

krtrumpet [at] aol [dot] com

Chip said...

Love reading about other cultures and sisterhood around the world.


Bani said...

Thanks for the generous giveaway. This book sounds great and Lisa See's others (Snow Flower for example) also sound like wonderful reads. One of the reasons why I want to read this one is because my mother is Chinese, emigrated to the US a few decades after the characters in Shanghai Girls. Comparing the experiences will be very interesting.

Marianna said...

I'd love to read this - I'm very interested in China and Asian history and cultures and I've never had a sister of my own!

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