23 June 2009 ~ 0 Comments

(Book) Shanghai Girls by Lisa See


The ending to a book can really ruin the story for me. I need things wrapped in a pretty little bow. This book had no bow. I realize the author left it open because there will obviously be a sequel to this book, but it feels like she met some pre-determined word count and just ended it. Too much of a cliffhanger and not enough closure. I think it was a bad choice (having said that, I will be reading the sequel for sure so I guess the author had her reasons, eh?)

The book is beautifully written. What I like about it the most is that it’s a story with some history sprinkled in, it’s not history with a story mixed in. I learned a few things about this era, but the biggest part of the book was dedicated to telling Pearl and May’s story. I have to say that I didn’t really like the characters at times, they seemed a little shallow and unbelievable. My favorite character, Sam (one of their husbands), was a secondary character and I felt more for him than the girls.

While the book was long, I felt there could have been deeper descriptions of the area, the dress, the people. It felt sometimes a little surface-writing like. It is evident that the author has a beautiful writing style, I like the way the words flow, I just wanted some more description in there.

I liked 99.9% of this book. I would venture to say I loved it, actually. But the ending ruined it for me. I seem to run into this more often, an abrupt and rude ending in books. It’s really starting to be this odd trend. Readers have spent hours reading and absorbing the text, we need that big payoff at the end.

Definitely read this one, but just be prepared to wait to hear the end of story until the next book comes out.


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 the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but eachknows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.

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