NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A gifted writer . . . explores the bonds of sisterhood while powerfully evoking the often nightmarish American immigrant experience.”—USA Today
BONUS: This edition contains a Shanghai Girls discussion guide and an excerpt from Lisa See's Dreams of Joy.
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 each knows 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.
Praise for Shanghai Girls
“A buoyant and lustrous paean to the bonds of sisterhood.”–Booklist
“A rich work . . . as compulsively readable as it is an enlightening journey.”—Denver Post
See (Peony in Love) explores tradition, the ravages of war and the importance of family in her excellent latest. Pearl and her younger sister, May, enjoy an upper-crust life in 1930s Shanghai, until their father reveals that his gambling habit has decimated the family's finances and to make good on his debts, he has sold both girls to a wealthy Chinese-American as wives for his sons. Pearl and May have no intention of leaving home, but after Japanese bombs and soldiers ravage their city and both their parents disappear, the sisters head for California, where their husbands-to-be live and where it soon becomes apparent that one of them is hiding a secret that will alter each of their fates. As they adjust to marriage with strangers and the challenges of living in a foreign land, Pearl and May learn that long-established customs can provide comfort in unbearable times. See's skillful plotting and richly drawn characters immediately draw in the reader, covering 20 years of love, loss, heartbreak and joy while delivering a sobering history lesson. While the ending is ambiguous, this is an accomplished and absorbing novel.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I appreciated the historical insight on being in Shanghai in the 1930's. The cultural insights are also very valuable to me (currently living in SHA) and will enjoy discussing with my colleagues. The immigration process is an eye-opener as well as the role Chinese men had in the US military . Interesting and entertaining - highly recommend this book!
The book started out great, the ending left me flat! A cheep trick, to read the next book! I hate that! And I will not be reading the next book!
This is a very sweeping novel...engrossing from the very first page ! This story takes you across continents and through history while all the time creating a most satisfying read. I didn't expect the story to be such an intense and riveting read but I was happily surprised. I could not put it down I was so wrapped up in Pearl and May's life and what would happen next. Warning there are some very intense and difficult moments but the strength and resiliency of us humans and particularly women is inspiring. I carried these ladies and their life's with me for weeks after the last page was read. Great read !