Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book 62: Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

I absolutely loved Snowflower and the Secret Fan by See but her follow-ups have not been able to recapture the magic for me and live up to its standards. Peony in Love was alright as was Shanghai Girls but it wasn't anything special.

The novel revolves around two sisters from Shanghai prior to World War II. After their father loses all their money, and sells them into marriage, they try to pretend that their lives will not change, and that they will not have to move to the States. However, once the Japanese invade, getting on a boat to America suddenly seems like a very good idea.

The first part of the novel deals with their escape from the invading forces, and their time on Angel Island waiting to pass the questioning sessions. Once they join their husbands and in-laws in China City along with the newly-born Joy, Pearl and May have to deal with being treated as unpaid labor for all their father-in-law's business ventures.

Much of the novel's focus is on the two sisters. While their father-in-law is quite the tyrant at the beginning of the novel, living together in close proximity causes a shift in the relations and power dynamics of the family, as they become more like a family rather than simply business relationships.

It's been awhile since I read this, and it wasn't a bad novel. It was just disappointing given how much I liked some of her other novels.

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