China Dolls

China Dolls

A Novel

Book - 2014
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

The author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls has garnered international acclaim for her great skill at rendering the intricate relationships of women and the complex meeting of history and fate. Now comes Lisa See's highly anticipated new novel, China Dolls .
 
It's 1938 in San Francisco: a world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.
 
The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

Praise for China Dolls
 
"Superb . . . This emotional, informative and brilliant page-turner resonates with resilience and humanity." -- The Washington Post
 
"This is one of those stories I've always wanted to tell, but Lisa See beat me to it, and she did it better than I ever could. Bravo! Here's a roaring standing ovation for this heartwarming journey into the glittering golden age of Chinese nightclubs." --Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
 
"A fascinating portrait of life as a Chinese-American woman in the 1930s and '40s." --The New York Times Book Review
 
"A sweeping, turbulent tale of passion, friendship, good fortune, bad fortune, perfidy and the hope of reconciliation." --Los Angeles Times
 
"Lisa See masterfully creates unforgettable characters that linger in your memory long after you close the pages." --Bookreporter
 
"Stellar . . . The depth of See's characters and her winning prose makes this book a wonderful journey through love and loss." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
" China Dolls plunges us into a fascinating history and offers an accessible meditation on themes that are still urgent in our contemporary world." -- San Francisco Chronicle
 
" China Dolls is [Lisa See's] most penetrating since Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ." -- The Seattle Times
 
"A spellbinding portrait of a time burning with opportunity and mystery." -- O: The Oprah Magazine
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2014
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780812992892
081299289X
Characteristics: 383 p

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knitsewrainbow Jul 25, 2019

A frank look at what it meant to be Chinese or Japanese in America in 1930-1940 something. Although America has been billed as the "land of opportunity" -- it is clear that is not equally true for all as we follow these characters on their journey to find work, date inter-racially, rent apartments, and forge friendships where even the closest of friends can turn against one another when racial tensions explode after Pearl Harbor. Another great story from a wonderful writer -- pick up any of her books, you won't be disappointed.

l
Leah_R
Jun 07, 2019

Lisa See makes her characters and the history come alive. Definitely worth reading.

v
veronicai
Oct 17, 2018

Interesting reading.

m
Mouziey
Dec 19, 2017

Interesting enough everyone of the characters were "passing" as someone else and never wanted to be true self: all three girls, Eddie, Joe, Charlie, Ivy, Japanese interment camps, even Helen half bred son. That is the take away and the back drop is all the beautiful scenery of Treasure Island, Chinatown, Forbidden City nightclub, Choy Suey circuit, Locked up as a victory girl and getting examined for STDs. True even as little kids Chinese White Black Native Indian; we all wanted to pass for something not as the true self we are now as old people I appreciate the non passing part. I am just me. Thank you

ArapahoeMaryA Jul 30, 2017

This historical fiction novel follows the lives of three young Asian women who become performers in San Francisco’s “Chop Suey Circuit” during the WWII era. While I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this slice of history, I had a tough time investing in the characters because their relationship becomes so entangled in secrets, betrayal and cutthroat competition. Frankly, I was a little relieved when their story drew to a close.

c
cemetery613
Jan 02, 2016

I enjoyed this book. Well written. History that I was totally unaware of. Well worth the read.

not well written and not a good in-depth portrait of immigrant Asian women trying to make it in America's frenetic pre WWII culture. Interesting plot, too bad it was so poorly written.

booklady413 Oct 01, 2014

Lisa See writes about friendship and being Asian in an unfriendly pre-war 1938 era in America. Ruby, Grace and Helen are dancers at the Forbidden Garden, a club primarily for Asians. As WWII approaches and begins with Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, secrets will be revealed, lives changed and friendships tested. An enjoyable and enlightening experience.

s
singasong70
Sep 25, 2014

Did not care for this book - did not finish it. I found the dialogue stilted and formulaic - hard to believe they talked the way author portrays them as talking in the thirties - "I so wanted to hit her." Really?

o
occy
Aug 14, 2014

I really enjoyed this novel. Definitely one of those "hard to put down" reads.

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SpringAltman Jun 21, 2014

Three young women of Oriental descent become friends thru the turmoil of late 1930 thru post war 1940. The story follows the twists and turns of their relationships with each other, their reunions, their falling outs, their betrayals and their re-evaluations of each other.
It also gives a historical account of what life was like for Americans of Chinese and Japanese descent during this time period

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